Iowa State takes on tough Toledo team in first road game of season


Redshirt junior defensive back Sam E. Richardson made one tackle for the game, assisting in the Cyclone’s defensive performance. Iowa State’s homecoming game against Toledo on Oct. 11 ended in a victory for the Cyclones, 37-30.

Luke Manderfeld

Iowa State had its hands full with two in-state rivals in its first two weeks, but it had the luxury of hosting those games in the renovated Jack Trice Stadium with 61,500 screaming football fans filling the seats.

This weekend, that luxury will be absent.

The Cyclones will hit the road for the first time in 2015, heading east to Toledo, Ohio, on Saturday for its final non-conference game of the season. 

Toledo’s stadium, the Glass Bowl, averaged 19,547 fans per game last season, reaching the 20,000-fan mark only three times.

The average attendance was 40,000 less than Jack Trice Stadium’s attendance average through the first two games of the 2015 season and 25,000 less than Jack Trice’s average attendance in 2014.

The difference doesn’t seem to faze the Cyclones. On the road, the team enjoys a quiet crowd, especially when Iowa State is the cause.

“The funnest part about playing on the road is causing the fans to be quiet,” said receiver Quenton Bundrage. “Of course, they’re not going to like you coming into their stadium, their home turf. You go out there and show to them you’re the better team and then, all the sudden, they’re all quiet. You laugh at it and chuckle a little bit.”

The road game will present another challenge aside from just being away from home.

Iowa State has played on the same turf on the practice field and at Jack Trice since the start of the preseason. Going to a new stadium with a new surface may throw off some players.

“I think getting used to a new surface could be kind of tough for some people,” Bundrage said. “That’s why you have walk-throughs [before the game] and that type of stuff, so you can get used to it before the game.”

Whatever the reason, Iowa State has had more than its fair share of struggles away from Ames in recent years. The Cyclones own a 3-8 road record the past two seasons, but they haven’t lost a non-conference road game since losing to Iowa in Iowa City in 2010.

“It’s a great challenge,” said ISU couch Paul Roads. “Anytime you go on the road in college football, it’s a challenge.”

Although the atmosphere of the Rockets’ stadium will give the Cyclones something to overcome, the team Iowa State is playing provides enough of a challenge.

Toledo is fresh off a road win against then-No. 18 Arkansas and will return star running back Kareem Hunt from his two-game suspension.

The Rockets are only returning four players from their defensive front-seven and have lost a large part of their offensive line. This year’s team is significantly different from the Toledo squad that Iowa State defeated 37-30 in Ames last season.

The high rate of player turnover on both sides of the ball limits the value of the game tape from last year’s win.

“They also have a completely different offensive line,” said defensive lineman Vernell Trent. “I watched [last year’s film] a little bit, I know what to expect, but at the same time, I got to keep my ears up about it.”

Coming off a tough loss to Iowa, Iowa State is preparing for a hard fight against Toledo. 

The Rockets have a long history of football success despite not being a Power Five conference team. The fans and players expect nothing less than the best.

“There’s tradition there,” Rhoads said. “And when there’s tradition, kids understand how to win, and they expect to win when they step on the field.”

The Cyclones will take on the Rockets at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Glass Bowl stadium in Toledo, Ohio.