Cyclones continue doing what they’re supposed to do

Jeremy Gustafson

May the critics rest for at least one week. After all, the Cyclones did exactly what they were supposed to by winning against Missouri and clinching their first winning season since 1989.

Along the way, the team may have wrapped up its first bowl bid since 1978.

Looking at what Iowa State has done this year, it is easy to criticize, just by looking at the numbers.

Starting with Ohio, Iowa State squeaked that game with a 25-15 win. It left the crowd, which had been promised “not just another season,” wondering exactly where the Cyclones stood this year.

However, looking closely at the numbers shows a different story. Iowa State held Ohio to 179 yards rushing. This season the Bobcats have averaged 309 yards rushing and garnered 363 rushing yards at Minnesota, a perennial bowl contender.

Ohio is 5-3 this year and has shown great improvement.

The Cyclones controlled them after the first quarter.

UNLV was 3-8 a year ago and have improved to 4-4 already this year.

UNLV has one of the most exciting quarterbacks you’ve ever seen in Jason Thomas, who has been compared to Daunte Culpepper, and Iowa State was able to hold the Rebels off 37-22.

At Iowa, the Cyclones led after the first play from scrimmage, a 58-yard touchdown run by J.J. Moses.

Iowa State held on for a 24-14 win. Since then Iowa, while searching for its identity, has played pretty well.

The Hawkeyes’ record doesn’t show it, but they are a much better team than last year.

They upset ranked Michigan State, and minus a few turnovers, they had a chance to send the Badgers back to Wisconsin with their heads hanging.

Baylor is another team that if you only look at records is bad.

But the Bears had Iowa State coming into Waco. Baylor viewed this game as very winnable, because many people didn’t believe Iowa State was good.

A redshirt quarterback named Guy Tomcheck played rusty but had a good second half and nearly pulled off the upset.

Then look at Oklahoma State. Playing its homecoming game, the Cowboys controlled much of the game with sharp passing and a solid run game.

The Cyclones, who killed themselves with mistakes, managed to pull out a last-minute miracle in a game in which they were underdogs according to Las Vegas.

They showed heart, toughness and grit, reminiscent of how Nebraska pulled out a last-second victory on a kicked ball touchdown against Missouri in 1997.

Not to compare Iowa State with Nebraska just yet, but the effort was the same.

The loss to Texas A&M seemed hard to handle by some, but looking at A&M you saw a better team than their record showed.

The Aggies came into Ames needing to win worse than the Cyclones, and by dominating Iowa State, they gave themselves momentum and beat Kansas State.

And after the latest win against Missouri, the Cyclones have put themselves at the top half of the Big 12. The turnaround may not be complete, but it is close.

The Cyclones have beaten the teams they should, and those teams aren’t all that bad.

The combined record of ISU opponents is 28-34, below .500, but take it from this week’s opponent Kansas State, you get to the top by playing the bottom.

Bill Snyder built his team by blowing out such esteemed programs as Ball State, UTEP, Louisiana State and Temple. Now those teams are worse than anyone the Cyclones play.

So lets take a second to stop criticizing Iowa State for not beating a national powerhouse yet.

They have beat the teams that they are supposed to, and out of eight games, there are six games “they should have won.”

Being favored more than being the underdog has to be good for something.