So the Cyclones took down Iowa last week in an emotionally and physically exhausting triple overtime thriller, and had a short week to prepare for a nationally televised Friday night game against the defending Big East champs. Cyclone fans, meanwhile, have been described as "being absolutely insufferable" by Hawk fans, (and lets face it, they would know,) and are due for a big karmic payback to balance out the universe from last week.
We go now to Admiral Ackbar of the Rebel Alliance Fleet for further analysis of this game. Admiral?
Thank you, Admiral.
Lets face it, just as last week was a perfect confluence of events to force arguably the most exciting win in the Cy-Hawk series, this game had a lot of things that should have conspired to force a Cyclone loss. Yet here we sit, 3-0 and headed into a Bye Week.
Granted, it was a very ugly win. Between the soft defense and the ridiculous amount of penalties on both sides of the ball, it was clear that this team was still mentally and physically exhausted from last week. Let's just call it what it was: a tough, gritty win over an offensively struggling Big East squad on a rebuilding year.
But it doesn't matter now. Iowa State is 3-0 for the first time since 2005, and has managed to reach a badly needed bye week so that they can heal injuries to Jantz and Osemele. (And work on the game plan for Texas.)
So what did we learn in week 3?
THIS IS TEAM IS INCREDIBLY [INSERT ADJECTIVE HERE]
There are a lot of times when sportswriters will use words like "tough" or "gritty" when they have to write about a team they know nothing about that is suddenly performing above expectations. But this year's Iowa State team is one that lives up to the moniker. Every game they've played, they've trailed early and have lost the lead at some point during the 4th quarter, only to battle back and get the win on a late drive. The three wins have come by a combined 8 points.
THE TEAM NEEDS THIS BYE WEEK
Injuries to Kelichi Osemele and Steele Jantz threatened to hand UConn the win. Jantz went down with under a minute left with what appeared to be an ankle injury, and was forced to make plays with his arm instead of his legs from that point forward. Numerous penalty flags could have been avoided had this team not been so tired from the short week. Our defensive line was getting pushed around on the first drive. Now Paul Rhoads had a full two weeks to get his team ready for Texas on October 1.
GO GO GADGET PLAYS
Paul Rhoads is a man who knows when to pull out his gadget plays. During the Iowa overtimes last week, I was absolutely terrified every time the Extra Point unit took the field - I was waiting for that game to end in the 31-30 Nebraska failed 2 point special. Instead, he once again kept it in his back pocket until nobody expected it - and then brought out the reverse pass. The 40-Yard touchdown heave from Josh Lenz gave the Cyclones their first lead of the night at 14-10, and shifted the overall momentum solidly into Iowa State's favor.
HE'S NOT SUPERMAN
Last night, at one point Jantz's stat line read 0/4, 0 yards, 3 interceptions. He would later settle down and rack up 200 yards and a TD, but he was more or less carried by some very athletic plays made by his receiving corps, capped off by Darius Reynolds' spectacular touchdown catch where he hurdled over two UConn defenders to reach the end zone. The Cyclones managed to always have a foot down or a toe inside the line on every 3rd down conversion in the 4th quarter.
KIRBY VAN DER KAMP, MVP
At least as far as the special teams units are concerned. Kirby left 4 punts inside the UConn 20, and routinely kept the inept UConn offense with poor field position. His importance can not be underestimated in this win. ZachGuyer nailed his XPs and a 40 yarder, and Mahoney bounced an on-target 53-yarder off the bottom cross-bar.