Looking back at the 8-3 Iowa State Cyclones

Jeff Stell

Prior to this football season, the ISU athletics department came up with the slogan “Not Just Another Season” to describe the upcoming campaign.

Those words rang true as the Cyclones enjoyed a historical football season and are headed to their first bowl game in 22 years.

On their way to an 8-3 record, the Cyclones went through their share of highs and lows, big wins and tough losses.

As a reward for all the hard work, the Cyclones earned a spot in the Insight.com bowl to be played in Phoenix on Dec. 28.

The ISU offense put in a spectacular season effort, led by runningback Ennis Haywood who finished as the Big 12 conference’s leading rusher. Haywood finished the regular season with 1,281 rushing yards, an average of 123.7 yards per game.

Senior quarterback Sage Rosenfels played steadily and consistently, and playmaker J.J. Moses made his share of big plays.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Cyclones struggled at times, but made their presence felt. Senior defensive end Reggie Hayward anchored the line, leading the team with 90 tackles, seven sacks and three blocked kicks.

Punter Carl Gomez stepped up mid-season and won the kicking job, a position that had been a problem for the Cyclones over the first half of the year.

Gomez ended the struggles by drilling 7-of-8 field goal attempts, with his only miss coming outside of 40 yards.

The following is a game-by-game breakdown of Iowa State’s first winning season in 11 years.

Sept. 2 – Iowa State 25, Ohio University 15

Ennis Haywood showed Cyclones fans a sign of things to come, rushing for 159 yards and a touchdown in the season-opening win.

The Cyclones appeared to have a little first-game rust, as the Bobcats controlled most of the first half. Then the Cyclones came to life, scoring 18 straight points, keyed by a big play from Haywood.

Leading just 16-9 in the third quarter, Haywood exploded through a hole and burst 73 yards for a touchdown to put Iowa State in command for good.

Sage Rosenfels added 194 passing yards, as the Cyclone offense piled up 400 yards of total offense.

Linebacker Derrick Walker paced the ISU defense with 11 tackles, including a sack, and forced and recovered a fumble.

Sept. 9 – Iowa State 37, UNLV 22

A stellar all-around effort was needed to fight off a solid UNLV team, and the Cyclones answered the challenge.

Sage Rosenfels passed for two scores on his way to racking up 286 passing yards, and the ISU defense recorded several big plays that the offense turned into points.

The Cyclones converted an interception, a blocked punt and a fumble into 17 points in the second quarter to build a 27-6 halftime advantage.

Reggie Hayward wreaked havoc in the Runnin’ Rebel backfield, posting 10 tackles, two sacks and one blocked extra point.

The ISU offense broke the 400-yard barrier in total offense for the second straight week, finishing with 436 yards. Ennis Haywood rushed for 108 yards on 29 carries and J.J. Moses turned a screen pass into a 78-yard touchdown pass.

Sept. 16 – Iowa State 24, Iowa 14

The Cyclones maintained control of the intrastate rivalry by picking up their third straight win in the series. The winning streak is the longest since 1980-82.

The Cyclones put the game away in the fourth quarter with a 10-play, 79-yard scoring drive, capped off by a 5-yard bootleg by Sage Rosenfels. Rosenfels passed for 228 yards and rushed for 59 yards and two scores, on his way to winning the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week award.

J.J. Moses electrified the Cyclone fans in the visitor section of Kinnick Stadium, with a 58-yards touchdown run on a reverse play on Iowa State’s first offensive play from scrimmage.

Once again the Cyclone offense was hitting on all cylinders, finishing with 485 yards of total offense. It marked the first time in school history that an ISU squad opened the season with three straight games over 400 yards of total offense.

Sept. 30 – Iowa State 31, Baylor 17

The winning ways continued for the Cyclones in their Big 12 Conference opener. The 4-0 start was the best start for an ISU team in 20 years.

The Cyclones bolted to a 31-3 halftime lead and spent the second half fighting off the stubborn Bears.

Iowa State outgained Baylor in yards 475-269 and was led by a career-high 241 yards rushing from Ennis Haywood, who also added a pair of touchdowns. Haywood’s 241-yard effort ranked 10th in school history.

Oct. 7 – No. 2 Nebraska 49, Iowa State 27

Playing in front of a national television audience and in the biggest game in recent memory for the ISU football program, the Cyclones gave the Huskers all they could handle for three quarters before falling.

The Cyclones only trailed 21-20 heading into the fourth quarter, but then the Huskers put 28 points on the board to pull away.

Sage Rosenfels opened the game’s scoring with a 53-yard strike to Craig Campbell. Cornerback Jamarcus Powers added a touchdown in the second quarter when he intercepted an Eric Crouch pass and sprinted down the sideline 40 yards to the endzone.

In the final quarter, the Huskers scored to go ahead 28-20 and then took advantage of a costly Cyclone blunder. One play after the kickoff, ISU wide receiver Lane Danielsen attempted a halfback pass and threw it right into the arms of Husker defensive back Troy Watchhorn, and the Huskers scored another touchdown three plays later.

ISU receiver J.J. Moses caught 11 passes for 158 yards. Both totals were good for career-high honors.

Oct. 14 – Iowa State 33, Oklahoma State 26

Sage Rosenfels tossed a 33-yard touchdown pass to Lane Danielsen with just 18 seconds left in the game to allow the Cyclones to escape Stillwater with a win.

Ennis Haywood missed the game due to injury but freshman Michael Wagner made sure the ISU running game didn’t miss a beat. Wagner totaled 170 yards on 26 carries and scored three times.

The two teams combined to amass 900 yards of total offense, as the Cyclones reached the 500-yard plateau. Cowboy quarterback, Aso Pogi, produced most of the Cowboy offense with 328 passing yards.

The Cyclones had been struggling in recent weeks with the kicking game, but Carl Gomez assumed the kicking duties and drilled two field goals.

The win was the third-straight road win for Iowa State, the best streak since 1978, and improved the team to 5-1 for the first time since 1980.

Oct. 21 – Texas A&M 30, Iowa State 7

The Aggies swept into Jack Trice Stadium and dominated the Cyclones in all areas of the game.

The Aggies tallied 469 yards in total offense while holding the Cyclones to 239, more than 200 below their season average.

Momentum went squarely with the Aggies early in the game when Michael Jamison blocked an ISU punt. The Aggies scored two plays later.

Aggie quarterback Mark Farris then hooked up with Dwain Goynes in the second quarter, and the Aggies were soon in control. Farris finished with 248 passing yards and three touchdowns, two passing and one rushing.

Sage Rosenfels struggled under center for Iowa State, connecting on just 14-of-32 passes for 84 yards. Rosenfels also threw a pair of interceptions, one that killed a Cyclone drive after J.J. Moses ran a punt back into Aggie territory.

Reggie Hayward turned in a sterling effort to lead the Cyclone defense. Hayward recorded 17 tackles, including a sack.

Oct. 28 – Iowa State 39, Missouri 20

The Cyclones bounced back from the A&M thrashing and locked up the school’s first winning season in 11 years.

Freshman defensive back Marc Timmons was the hero of the game for Iowa State in his first collegiate start.

Trailing 26-14 in the third quarter, Missouri drove to the ISU 26-yard line before Timmons intercepted a pass and dashed 74 yards for a touchdown, which was the final nail in the coffin for the Tigers.

Timmons added another interception to become the first Cyclone to pick off two passes in one game since 1992. Timmons also added 10 tackles, as did Adam Runk.

Ennis Haywood got back on track with 214 yards on 23 carries and two scores. The Cyclones totaled 495 yards in total offense.

Nov. 4 – No. 19 Kansas State 56, Iowa State 10

Riding high after the win over Missouri, the Cyclones were knocked flat by a Wildcat team stinging from two consecutive losses.

The Wildcats bolted to a 42-3 lead halfway through the third quarter and finished with nearly 600 yards of total offense.

Tailback Josh Scobey led the onslaught with 149 yards on 19 carries and four touchdowns.

The Cyclone offense struggled all day as Ennis Haywood, the Big 12’s leading rusher, managed only 35 yards on 16 carries.

Nov. 11 – Iowa State 35, Colorado 27

The Cyclones ended a 16-game losing streak to Colorado, in snowy 19-degree weather.

The victory was the seventh of the season for Iowa State, which all but guaranteed a bowl bid.

Sage Rosenfels led a ball-control offense, rushing for 140 yards and two scores. Rosenfels also fired a 44-yard scoring strike to J.J. Moses, who hauled in five catches for 105 yards.

Ennis Haywood finished the game with 81 yards on 18 carries to become just the 10th back in ISU history to top the 1,000-yard mark.

The Buffaloes outplayed the Cyclones in the first half, building a 20-12 lead, but the Cyclones scored 20 straight points to go ahead 32-20.

The Cyclones defense came to life in the second half, forcing four turnovers and only gave up seven points.

Carl Gomez nailed 3-of-4 field goal attempts, including a career-long 46-yarder.

Nov. 18 – Iowa State 38, Kansas 17

The Cyclones closed out a historic season by drilling a Jayhawk squad on a cold, windy day.

The Cyclones finished with eight wins for the first time in 22 years.

Ennis Haywood and Michael Wagner provided a tremendous one-two punch in the ISU backfield.

Haywood racked up 190 yards and one score, while Wagner had 102 yards.

Wagner scored a 66-yard touchdown run on his way to averaging 12.2 yards per carry.

ISU quarterback Sage Rosenfels scored twice on the ground and finished 13-of-26 for 171 yards.

ISU defensive lineman James Reed posted eight tackles to finish second on the all-time ISU down-lineman chart with 333 career stops.