First road game awaits Cyclones in Connecticut


Photo: Tim Reuter/Iowa State Daily

Linebacker A.J. Klein pushes off the UNI opposition during the game against Northern Iowa on Sept. 3. Klein had a total of three tackles and three assissts during that game, helping the Cyclones win with a final score of 20-19.

Jake Calhoun

A shortened week for ISU football will be met with a rematch of a game that has been 10 years in the making.

Iowa State (2-0) will take on Connecticut (1-1) on Friday night in East Hartford, Conn., in a game that was scheduled in a two-part installment with the first installment having resulted in a 37-20 loss at Jack Trice Stadium on Nov. 23, 2002.

For a school that is typically known for its men’s and women’s basketball programs, the UConn football program typically flies under the radar in the arena of college sports.

“As far as football goes, I’ve never really seen them play,” said linebacker A.J. Klein. “My first [time] actually seeing them play was watching film [Sunday], watching their offense and how they did against Vanderbilt.”

Iowa State is 1-2-1 all-time against Big East teams, with its only victory coming against Pittsburgh in a 37-29 Bowl victory in 2000.

UConn is coming off winning the Big East title and a coaching change that saw Paul Pasqualoni take over for the program’s pioneer Randy Edsall. The Huskies have utilized the play of three different quarterbacks in its first two games, which has made preparation for the Cyclones difficult.

“That was a great deal of the work that Wally [Burnham] and [the defensive] staff were doing last night,” said ISU coach Paul Rhoads. “They ran out of grease board space trying to figure out the different plans because of that.”

The numbers between the three — Johnny McEntee, Michael Nebrich and Scott McCummings — do not stand out very much, as the trio has combined for less than 50 percent pass completion and has thrown only one touchdown pass to four interceptions in the two contests.

Regardless, all three remain a concern for the Cyclones.

“They have different attacks, different abilities for each one,” Klein said. “One’s a passer, one’s a runner and the other does both, so it’s going to be a challenge for us to change up our defensive schemes to handle all three of them.”

For ISU quarterback Steele Jantz, maintaining a level of consistency can be a task in itself in his first-ever road game as the Cyclones’ starting quarterback.

“He showed after two games that he’s capable of [playing well],” said junior receiver Josh Lenz. “I think a lot of it is just natural for him. He’s just a natural quarterback and he just has a knack for making plays when he needs to and that’s what he’s been doing.”

The Cyclones’ matchup against the Huskies also will be broadcast on ESPN2, an occurrence that is uncommon for one of the smaller members of the Big 12.

“It’s a big deal to some of the kids,” said junior linebacker Jake Knott. “It’s not as big a deal as it used to be, but that’s in the backs of people’s minds.”

Last year’s 48-20 loss to Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl by the Huskies as the Big East’s lone representative has generated discussion to the ongoing dialogue regarding a change to the BCS system.

Rhoads, who served as defensive coordinator at Pittsburgh from 2000-07, said to the contrary that Big East teams should not be taken lightly.

“It’s very good,” Rhoads said of the quality of play in the Big East. “I’ve always felt that [the criticism] was unjust … It is high-quality football with great coaching and plenty of talent.”