There is a mental resolve with this Iowa State football team and it was on full display Saturday in Iowa City.
As he left the field at halftime, Coach Paul Rhoads told the Cyclone Radio Network audience that his team needed to believe it could win despite facing a 14-3 deficit. The Cyclones had just suffered a damaging end zone fumble as they left the field.
Additionally, ISU faced a negative 10-minute margin in time of possession. Only three times previously – Army (2009), Kansas (2010) and UConn (2011) – in Rhoads’ tenure had his club suffered a 10-minute TOP deficit in the opening half and recovered to win.
But, Rhoads was intent on coaxing a comeback out of his troops. He believed his team could rally because he witnessed a strong will a week earlier vs. K-State.
Trailing the Wildcats 13-0 in the first quarter (and being outgained 176-4 to that point), the Cyclones went to work. Sam Richardson hit 5-5 passes on a scoring drive that cut the margin to 13-7 vs. the Wildcats.
That scoring drive in desperate circumstances was symbolic of the determination this team has.
It was the beginning of a foundation that Rhoads is trying to build upon. Against Iowa, Rhoads added more bricks and mortar.
“That (Iowa) game was won between the ears,” Rhoads said. “One of the things for the week was that we couldn’t have any doubt we would win the game.”
Getting better at throwing, tackling, kicking, running and catching is all part of the coaching curriculum. Rhoads, however, might be making more gains with building a belief.
“I’m a teacher,” said the son of a former high school coach and former teacher. “I love lessons. Through two weeks, we’ve had a lot of lessons to learn from.”
Lesson learned. The payback was Iowa State’s third win in four years of the Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series.