Through the eye of the beholder: One Cyclone fan’s story on the Oklahoma upset


A member of the Iowa State football high fives fans after arriving back in Ames Oct. 7 following the Oklahoma football game where Iowa State defeated Oklahoma 38-31. 

Garrett Kroeger

When the buses carrying the Iowa State football team came into sight, Cyclone fans who were huddled near the Bergstrom Complex to welcome back the victorious Cyclones following their 38-31 win over the No. 3 Oklahoma Sooners erupted in cheers.

Iowa State players departed one-by-one off the buses and fans started to shout, ‘Joel Lanning, I love you!’ and ‘Allen (Lazard) what a touchdown! You’re the man!’ Then fans lined up in a single file lines to receive high fives from the likes of Lanning.

While everyone in attendance had smiles from cheek to cheek, earlier in the day Roger Roland, a Des Moines resident and 1978 Iowa State graduate, did not think the Cyclones were going to pull off the upset.

“Right before the play, I told my wife, ‘please come down with it, Lazard,’” Roland said. “I knew they were going to throw it to him. That is something [Iowa State] does in that situation. But then, when they had the review, I thought, ‘surely they aren’t going to do this and talk about this for the rest of our lives that they took that touchdown away.’”

Roland felt good about Lazard’s touchdown catch. But as an Iowa State fan, he has seen a lot of heartbreak, he said. So, he was preparing for the worst.

When the referees confirmed the touchdown reception, Roland creeped further to the edge of his seat at home.

“I was trying to figure out if the Cyclones could actually hang on or not,” Roland said. “Or if this was going to be like one of those games where your heart was going to be broken.”

Roland’s heart was not broken. His heart was thrilled. In fact, when the game clock struck all zeros, he was trying to think who to call to ask, ‘ Can you believe it?’ The person he called was his brother, who also could not believe Iowa State actually pulled off the victory.

Despite experiencing a rollercoaster of emotions, Roland was happy he got to watch the game in real time.

As a lifelong Cyclone fan, Roland has been a season ticket holder since he graduated. Hearing that, one would assume that he was in attendance for the Oklahoma State 2011 upset. But, he wasn’t.

“I actually missed it,” Roland said chuckling. “The only one I’ve missed in a 100,000 years.”

The reason? He has had a tradition of attending the Iowa high school state playoffs with one of his friends. And on that night was West Des Moines Valley versus Bettendorf in the 4A Championship game in Cedar Falls.

Roland did not think Iowa State could beat Oklahoma State. However, he told his friend not to tell him what was going on between the Cyclones and the Cowboys because Roland taped it and was planning on watching it when he got home.

After the 4A Championship, Roland got home around midnight, was able to avoid hearing anything about the Oklahoma State contest and was ready to watch the tape. Until his wife Christy greeted him at the door.

“She said, ‘You are going to watch that game right?’,” Roland said. “I’m like, ‘why would she do that unless Iowa State won?’”

Both the Oklahoma and Oklahoma State games are two, if not the top two victories in Iowa State football history.

Typically when people are asked which win is more monumental, they usually go with the latest victory. But Roland truly believes the Oklahoma upset is the biggest in program history.

“I actually do think this one is the biggest because it was on the road,” Roland said. “Oklahoma State was at home and had some things going on. It was still a great win, they were going for a national championship, I personally think because it has been since 1990 [Iowa State beat Oklahoma] makes it a bigger win.”

Roland said that Iowa State needs to play more quarterbacks from Ankeny against Oklahoma because in 1990, Iowa State signal caller Chris Pedersen was hailed from Ankeny just like the star of this year’s game, linebacker and spot gunslinger Joel Lanning.

The victory over the Sooners put the Cyclones at 3-2 on the year, meaning Iowa State is halfway to a bowl game.

While some Cyclone fans believe Iowa State’s bowl chances soared with the win, Roland is not yet totally ready to hop onto that train.

“Lets just hope Iowa State can beat Kansas,” Roland said.

Coming off the bus, running back coach Lou Ayeni described the win as not only a season building win, but a program building win. And while Roland is waiting to see if Iowa State qualifies for a bowl this year, he has complete faith that coach Matt Campbell and his staff are making the Cyclones into future Big 12 contenders.

“[Campbell] probably looked at every angle and evaluated direction,” Roland said. “I would have believed in him if Iowa State would have lost today too. Trust the process.”