Monday Musings

Still basking in the glory of Saturday night's victory over Iowa? Still honoring the respect of being ranked in both major polls this week? Cyclone Nation's editor-in-chief says you should be, because it's been 229 weeks since the Iowa State football team experienced something like this.

For the first 30 minutes Saturday night, the most courageous act by anyone affiliated with the Iowa State athletic department was the band's decision to march right down the heart of Kinnick Stadium's black-and-gold tailgate row while playing the ISU fight song.

I watched the bemused and befuddled reaction by the Hawkeye Nation from up top in the press box and thought now that's making a statement about where the in-state rivalry currently stands.

However, the only statements being sent throughout most of the first half came from a home team desperate for redemption. Just as many of you feared, Iowa's offensive line consistently mauled Iowa State's defensive front while rolling up 193 yards rushing in the first half en route to a 24-7 lead.

Iowa State Coach Dan McCarney was also desperate. He was working it on the sidelines, exhorting his team to not get its daubers down and remain focused while doing his best Jon Gruden impression with his facial contortions.

It was a futile cause until Iowa offensive coordinator Ken O'Keefe pulled…well, an O'Keefe. The Hawkeyes' normally tepid offensive coordinator was either having an out-of-body experience or had his soul possessed by the ghost of Bill Snyder throughout most of the first half. His game plan was perfect and aggressive. And he had the Cyclones on their heels. Then, with 49 seconds remaining in the first half and two timeouts remaining, he went back to his customary lay-down mentality and chose to run out the clock instead of further putting the black-and-gold boot to the cardinal-and-gold throat.

The Hawkeyes were never the same after that. Meanwhile, McCarney and his staff were formulating a plan to regroup their forces for a counter-attack. Mac was atypically tight-lipped about what exactly was said to the team at halftime. But offensive line coach Marty Fine summed up the emotion of the room when he told me on the field after the game, "We coached them up a bit."

Whatever was said worked. The Cyclones started the half with a touchdown drive that set the tone. Still, the defense had to prove that it was finished with camouflaging the back of its white road jerseys with tire tread.

Iowa quarterback Brad Banks intervened on their behalf with an unforced error, and the Cyclones pounced on it. The result was another Iowa State touchdown, and the murmuring of the word avalanche in the press box could be heard.

On the next Iowa drive Tim TeBrink made the most crucial individual defensive play by a Cyclone since Adam Runk's game-saving pass breakup at Missouri last season. TeBrink stripped Banks of the ball and recovered his own forced fumble to set up another Iowa State touchdown. Suddenly, make that very suddenly; the Cyclones had the lead.

You could almost see visions of the 1986 Rose Bowl dancing in the collective heads of the Hawkeye Nation. The sudden reversal of fortune in the third quarter embodied exactly what has happened to the in-state rivalry after nearly a generation of Cyclone futility.

The rest was a blur. A safety by Jeremy Loyd. Three consecutive third-and-nine conversions by Seneca Wallace, including a dazzling across-the-body throw to Jack Whitver for a 29 yard gain from his own five yard line. Then two made field goals by Adam Benike, the Hawkeye Nation making a run for the border with several minutes remaining, and a fifth straight Iowa State victory in the series.

Sunday morning the party continued with Iowa State ranked 21st in the AP and 24 in the ESPN Coach's Poll ending a streak of 229 consecutive weeks without being rated during the season. Respect has been earned and claimed. Now, the challenge is for players and coaches to remain as hungry as they have been the past few weeks.

Believe me, Troy State will be out for respect this weekend and they have some players. Going back to something Ben Bruns told me prior to the Tennessee Tech game though, night games have a tendency to reduce your chances of a letdown since it forces you to sit in a hotel room and watch everyone else play. Nothing gets the juices flowing more than that.

The real test will come Sept. 28th against Nebraska, which is also after some respect following a thrashing at Penn State. The Huskers have two weeks to stew on that one, and it's not outside the realm of possibility that Iowa State is the higher ranked team going in.

But that's the future, and many of us belong to the church of what's happening now. In that respect, let me leave you with something that venerable Iowa broadcaster Bob Brooks told me in the Iowa State locker room after the game:

"I never imagined Iowa would lose five in a row to Iowa State."

Ain't next September 13th in Ames going to be fun?

Weekly Top 25

If I had a vote in the AP poll this would've been my ballot this week:

1. Miami, Fla. (3-0)

Last week: 1

This week: Boston College

2. Texas (2-0)

Last week: 2

This week: Houston

3. Georgia (2-0)

Last week: 4

This week: Northwestern State

4. Oklahoma (3-0)

Last week: 5

This week: South Florida

5. Tennessee (2-0)

Last week: 6

This week: Florida

6. Southern California (2-0)

Last week: 8

This week: at Kansas State

7. Ohio State (3-0)

Last week: 11

This week: at Cincinnati

8. Florida State (3-0)

Last week: 9

This week: Duke

9. Virginia Tech (3-0)

Last week: 15

This week: at Texas A&M

10. Notre Dame (3-0)

Last week: 18

This week: at Michigan State

11. Texas A&M (2-0)

Last week: 12

This week: Virginia Tech

12. Oregon (3-0)

Last week: 13

This week: Portland State

13. Michigan (2-1)

Last week: 7

This week: Utah

14. Florida (2-1)

Last week: 16

This week: at Tennessee

15. Washington State (2-1)

Last week: 3

This week: Montana State

16. Penn State (2-0)

Last week: NR

This week: Louisiana Tech

17. Colorado State (3-1)

Last week: 19

This week: at Nevada

18. Washington (1-1)

Last week: 21

This week: Wyoming

19. Iowa State (3-1)

Last week: 25

This week: Troy State

20. Kansas State (3-0)

Last week: 23

This week: Southern California

21. Boston College (2-0)

Last week: 22

This week: at Miami, Fla.

22. Nebraska (3-1)

Last week: 14

This week: idle

23. Wisconsin (4-0)

Last week: NR

This week: Arizona

24. N.C. State (4-0)

Last week: NR

This week: at Texas Tech

25. California (3-0)

Last week: NR

This week: Air Force

Dropped out: #10 Michigan State, #17 Marshall, #20 Colorado, #24 Utah

Honorable Mention: #26 UCLA (2-0); #27 Arizona (2-0); #28 Michigan State (2-1); #29 Marshall (1-1); #30 Oregon State (3-0).


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