Headliner 2011 season keeps football a mainstay tradition


Photo courtesy of Adam Kemp/O'Collegian

ISU fans storm the field after Iowa State won the game against Oklahoma State in double overtime. Iowa State won over Oklahoma State 37-31. Photo courtesy of Adam Kemp/O’Collegian

Jake Calhoun

Home football games will continue to be one of the main attractions for students this fall, a year removed from what many considered to be the most exciting season for ISU football in years.

Last season, Iowa State’s six home games averaged an attendance of more than 50,000 for the first time in school history, with the games against Northern Iowa, Iowa and Texas all overtaking each other, respectively, as the second-highest attended game in school history.

Students stormed the field after upset overtime victories against Iowa (Sept. 10) and Oklahoma State (Nov. 18) — the latter of which was televised as a primetime game on ESPN.

This season, the team will host seven opponents — four of which (No. 13 Baylor, No. 15 Kansas State, No. 16 Oklahoma and No. 17 West Virginia) finished in the final AP Top 25 poll last season — for the first time since 2010.

“Any time you get a chance to play more games at Jack Trice Stadium than you do on the road, it’s a positive to begin with,” said ISU coach Paul Rhoads in February. “We’re anxious and excited about that opportunity, especially in the league having five home games compared to four on the road.”

Iowa State will also be playing Texas Christian and West Virginia for the first time ever as conference opponents this season. The Cyclones will play TCU Oct. 6 in Fort Worth, Texas, and host West Virginia in their first-ever matchup for the season finale on Nov. 24.

After finishing 6-7 last season following their 27-13 loss to Rutgers in the Pinstripe Bowl, the Cyclones’ biggest question from spring until August is who will be starting at quarterback between Jared Barnett, Steele Jantz and Sam Richardson.

Rhoads said despite Richardson’s progression through spring, he is still behind Barnett and Jantz — both of whom shared starting duties last season — in the race for the No. 1 spot at quarterback.

Running backs James White and Jeff Woody will be returning, having split most of the ball-carrying duties last season. Senior receiver Josh Lenz is another key returning starter, having amassed 510 receiving yards last season — the most of any returning offensive player.

On defense, linebackers Jake Knott and A.J. Klein will anchor the unit in what will be their senior season at Iowa State. Knott and Klein have combined for nearly 25 percent of the team’s total tackles the past two seasons.

Safety Jacques Washington and cornerback Jeremy Reeves are the returning starters on the defensive secondary, while nose tackle Jake McDonough is the only returning starter on the defensive line.

The Cyclones’ first game will be on Sept. 1 when they host Tulsa. Kickoff time will be determined at a later date.