Tech win a payoff for resilient Cyclones


Iowa State’s 34-point win on the road over a Top 20 program Saturday caught most observers off guard. Coach Paul Rhoads felt the win was deserved and an indicator of his team’s personality.

“We’ve got a lot of pride and resiliency,” Rhoads said. “Losing four in a row hurt, but we kept on working, improving and preparing better. (Saturday) we played a complete football game.”

Three years in a row, Rhoads’ Cyclones have shocked the experts with a Big 12 road victory against great odds.

“When I walked into the locker room after A&M, there was a buzz with the players,” Rhoads said. “They were pointed forward.”

Rhoads was asked Saturday night to identify the common thread of the upset wins at Nebraska, Texas and Texas Tech.

“It’s the eighth game of the season and we were on the road,” Rhoads said, noting the similarity to the 2009 win in Lincoln and the 2010 victory at Austin. “(Seriously), I’ve got a very resilient group of young men that I’ve been coaching for three years.”

Getting the players back on track for Saturday’s game with Kansas is the next challenge.

“Every game the rest of the year is a huge game,” Rhoads said. “I can’t wait to get started (preparing).”

For the ISU fan base, you can probably enjoy the 41-7 rout of the Red Raiders a bit longer. Your next assignment is showing up on Saturday with a lot of energy for an 11:30 a.m. kickoff against the Jayhawks. See you there!

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Home teams have losing record in Big 12


The Iowa State football team is hitting the road for the third time in four weeks with a visit to Lubbock to face Texas Tech. The Cyclones have played at Tech only three times previously as Big 12 peers.

“It’s a hard place to play,” Coach Paul Rhoads said, “because the crowd is involved.”

Rhoads has some familiarity with the scene from earlier in his career and he noted that Bill Bliel and Bob Elliott have also coached there.

“One of my memories is that before they put the tarp over the entrance for the visitors, there was a very fiery young gentleman that used to hang out there,” Rhoads said. “(He) was one of the best hecklers in college sports.”

To this point in the season, home teams have not fared well in Big 12 games. Surprisingly, home teams have registered a 7-11 mark.

Home teams in the ACC (14-10), Big Ten (13-7), SEC (14-12), Big East (8-2) and Pac-12 (15-9) all have winning records.

Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Texas suffered their only conference losses at home and are undefeated on the road. Texas Tech’s 2-0 road mark is mirrored with its 0-2 home record in Big 12 play.

But, Rhoads cautioned that leaning on the trends of winning on the road won’t be enough.

“Like any place you play in Texas, there is great energy in the stadium (at Texas Tech),” he said. “It’ll be another challenging road place to play.”

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More proof of Big 12 power on gridiron


The marquee game in college football this week is a Big 12 battle between ninth-ranked Oklahoma and No. 8 Kansas State. It’s the lone match-up of Top Ten teams.

The Big 12 and SEC have jockeyed back-and-forth for conference supremacy all season. To date, those leagues have played the most ranked teams and won their share.

Against A.P.-ranked schools, the SEC is 10-3 and the Big 12 is 7-4. The other four automatic qualifying conferences are a combined 10-8. The Big Ten (3-4) and Big East (0-1) have losing records against ranked competition.

What do Nebraska, Michigan, Penn State, South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Cincinnati and USC have in common? They are ranked in the current A.P. Top 25 despite no victories over nationally rated foes.

Most college football analysts and fans would say the Big 12 and SEC are the strongest leagues. Presently, there are five nationally schools in the Big 12 (50% of its membership), SEC (42%) and Big Ten (42%).

Here is how those leagues  break down vs. rated schools this season:
SEC – LSU (5-0), Alabama (3-0), Arkansas (2-1), South Carolina (0-0), Georgia (0-2)
Big 12 – Oklahoma St. (2-0), K-State (1-0), Oklahoma (2-0), Texas A&M (1-2), Texas Tech (1-2)
Big Ten – Michigan St. (2-0), Nebraska (0-1), Wisconsin (1-1), Michigan (0-1), Penn State (0-1)

There’s a lot of games yet to be played. But, to this point in the season, the power base clearly rests in the Big 12 and the SEC.

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Clyde Williams Society honors iconic Cyclone


When you think of the people who have personally invested in Iowa State Athletics throughout history, Clyde Williams is a name that should be near the top of the list.

Williams, a native of Shelby, Iowa, won 69% of his games as football coach from 1907-12. He also started the men’s basketball program in 1907 – serving as its coach – before moving onto to the role of Athletics Director for six years. He was one of a half-dozen men to sign the bank note for the construction of State Field. Williams was fully vested in ISU sports.

So, it’s only appropriate that the athletics department – which created a cumulative all-time giving program for its most loyal and generous donors – named it the Clyde Williams Society.

Two hundred and two individuals and/or families were inaugural inductees into the society. Members were recognized at the annual Athletics Directors’ Reception last week. Lifetime giving of at least $100,000 was required for recognition in the Clyde Williams Society.

The creation of the Clyde Williams Society is an extension of recent efforts by the Iowa State Athletics Department to recognize and honors some of its iconic figures.

Two of its donor areas – the Jack Trice Club and Johnny’s (for Johnny Orr) – as well as the Pete Taylor Media Room and the Bill & Karen Bergan Track have been or will be constructed in the near future.

These initiatives all celebrate the legacies of some of the greatest ambassadors in ISU Athletics history. We greatly appreciate the support of all Cyclone supporters and the Clyde Williams Society is a celebration of the most loyal and long-time donors.

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Coach’s kid shows poise


Jared Barnett will make his first college start Saturday in Lubbock, a little more than 300 miles from his hometown of Garland, Texas.

“Right now, I’m in need of 12 (tickets), but we’ll see how it goes the rest of the week,” Barnett said Monday.

Upon hearing that Barnett would earn his first start at Texas Tech, most of the media’s questions Monday focused on his ability to handle pressure.

“The fact that he’s so inexperienced and remains so calm is a little bit surprising,” Rhoads said.

Everyone has raved about Barnett’s poise. There is something about the make-up of a coaches’ son and Barnett is that.

Barnett was listed fourth string on the spring depth chart, but Rhoads said at the time separation between the candidates wasn’t that great. Many thought it was coach-speak. Six months later, Barnett will get his first start since high school.

This week it’s a new challenge as he practices as the starter.

“It’s easier to be the relief pitcher and give that spark,” Rhoads said. “Now, he’s got to go out and do it as the starting quarterback.”

Barnett concurred with his coach.

“Continuous improvement,” Barnett said about his on-going goal. “The biggest thing is having the right mindset.”

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Barnett’s composure impressed Rhoads


Paul Rhoads analyzed his quarterback situation prior to Texas A&M. He admitted that Steele Jantz had been hobbled since the UConn game and that he would determine the starter (between Jantz and Jared Barnett) based upon practice.

His public comments referred to identifying the QB who “gives us the best chance to win”. Late in the week, Rhoads told me that the Aggie defense was “unorthodox” in their pressures. A&M was leading the nation in sacks and strong decision making would be key.

That backdrop seemed to indicate that the most experienced QB (Jantz) would be the choice. Four series into the game, Rhoads called the bullpen. Barnett, a redshirt freshman, came in to face the aggressive defense of coordinator Tim DeRuyter.

At game’s end Saturday night, Rhoads said that Barnett would likely be his starter this week at Texas Tech. In assessing Barnett, Rhoads cited his composure.

“What I saw was great poise,” Rhoads said. “I saw a redshirt freshman who was in control of himself. I saw a guy who made the right decisions.”

A&M was leading the league in rushing defense (72 ypg) entering Saturday’s game partly because of its high sack numbers. Barnett, himself, rushed for 66 yards and avoided pressure.

There are better total defenses in the Big 12 than Texas A&M. But, I’m not convinced there are more difficult preparations for inexperienced players. Barnett handled the pressure well.

We’ll have to see how Barnett’s progress unfolds going forward. But, it’s no stretch to note the positives he exhibited in his first major test.

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Web site setting new records with enhanced content

It’s time to re-write the record book for

The Iowa State Athletics Department’s web site continues to set new standards as one-of-a-kind content, special behind-the-scenes access / features and live event coverage expands.

Director Tyler Rutherford and assistant Dani Varley walked down a new path last week as produced its first ever conference road football game (at Missouri) for the Clone Zone, the site’s premium audio/video channel.

More than 7,000 subscribers signed up for the HD production of the football game in Columbia. Combining a feed from the HD cameras of B&G Productions, the producers of the Paul Rhoads’ Show, and a radio broadcast from the Cyclone Radio Network the web staff created a presentation for Clone Zone members across the nation to enjoy.

Although in the early stages as a carrier of Cyclone Athletics live content, the Clone Zone continues to enhance its product and offer more content.

The additions are reaping big dividends.

Statistics from the month of September show that 3.8 million page views were recorded on That broke the previous monthly record by 60% (or 1.5 million views). The site also set a new standard for unique visitors by 110% (or 351,133) for the month of September.

Congratulations to Tyler and Dani. And, thanks Cyclone fans, for making part of your normal routine.

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Texas A&M primer in Twitter-ese


Grantland Rice, the sports writing legend of the 1920s, once described an Army-Notre Dame game as follows:

Outlined against a blue-gray October sky the Four Horsemen rode again. In dramatic lore they are known as famine, pestilence, destruction and death. These are only aliases. Their real names are: Stuhldreher, Miller, Crowley and Layden. They formed the crest of the South Bend cyclone before which another fighting Army team was swept over the precipice at the Polo Grounds this afternoon as 55,000 spectators peered down upon the bewildering panorama spread out upon the green plain below.

That paragraph has 488 keystrokes … more than triple the Twitter limit of 140 characters per transmission.

I enjoy reading accounts like this one from Rice. But, it’s more for entertainment. To get the news, I want small bites. With that in mind, here’s your A&M primer in Twitter-ese:

Knott trying to lead Big 12 (league games only ) in tackles in successive years for first time since Lawrence Flugence (TT). #TackleMachine

Top rusher White averaging 5.3 ypc. Lone Cyclone to average better than 5.0 ypc in the last decade was A-Rob. #5ydClub

A.J. Klein returned an interception for a TD (78 yards) at Missouri. That was his third, a school record. #Pick6

The Cyclones are last in the Big 12 in opponent penalties. ISU has ranked 11th, 12th and 11th the last three seasons. #Consistency

Texas A&M is 4-0 at Jack Trice Stadium. Saturday’s game is their final appearance as a Big 12 member. #ProperPartingGift

Grantland Rice is probably rolling over in his grave with the popularity of Twitter. #GameHasChanged

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Rhoads hits the re-set button as second-half begins


It’s the mid-way point of the football season and Coach Paul Rhoads took the opportunity Monday to hit the re-set button.

“The odds makers and prognosticators have us a 1-5 football team,” Rhoads said. “We’re a 3-3 football team.”

The Cyclones have authored three-game winning and losing streaks to reach this point.

“We’re in a position to meet the expectations for our 2011 football team,” Rhoads said, “but, to do that, we need to correct some deficiencies we’ve had the last three weeks.”

Rhoads said his team “laid an egg” at Missouri in what he described as one of the two worst performances of his head coaching tenure (Utah last season was the other). He felt that an “off week” was coming.

“You’ve got to play through those and coach through it,” he said. “It’s my responsibility to get our kids ready to play and, in their minds, that we will (compete).”

Rhoads has seen some improvement in recent weeks.

“We’ve eliminated some of the foolish penalties on offense and created some turnovers on defense,” Rhoads said. “We’ve taken a team that wasn’t supposed to win (the Iowa and UConn) games and played better and smarter to win on the scoreboard.”

Four of the final six games are against nationally ranked teams. His squads have been resilient in the past, so it’s plausible to expect a competitive drive in the second half of the year.

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Big 12 offenses at it again


The free-wheeling offenses of the Big 12 are at it again in 2012. Five of the NCAA’s Top Ten total offenses – Oklahoma State (#2), Baylor (#3), Oklahoma (#4), Texas Tech (#6) and Texas A&M (#7) – reside in the Big 12.

Averaging each conference member’s national ranking in total offense demonstrates the Big 12’s offensive superiority:

Big 12 – average: 31st with six schools among Top 15
Pac-12 – average: 46th with two among Top 20
ACC – average: 54th, with two among Top 20
Big Ten – average: 63rd, with one among Top 20
Big East – average: 70th with two among Top 20
SEC – average: 76th with none among Top 20

Like recent years, the conference is loaded with quick-strike offenses and quarterbacks posting video game statistics.

Seth Doege (Tech), Robert Griffin III (BU) and Landry Jones (OU) rank 2nd-3rd-4th nationally in total offense. Brandon Weeden (OSU), Ryan Tannehill (A&M) and James Franklin (MIZ) are 8th-9th-11th nationally in the same category.

Iowa State’s Steele Jantz (40th) is the other Big 12 quarterback in the Top 50 for total offense. His 251.1-yard average is third-best in Cyclone history, trailing Austen Arnaud (266.1 in 2008) and Seneca Wallace (263.0 in 2002).

The Cyclones’ 2011 total offensive average (381.7 ypg) is second-best at the school in the last decade.

The Big 12’s reputation is for dynamic offenses. Iowa State has improved its big play ability significantly this fall. Now, it just needs to eliminate the turnovers.

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