This week’s meeting with Kansas is bringing to the surface all the bad feelings Iowa State players have tried to bury since last year’s painful home loss.
Up 20-0 at half. All the momentum. Offense clicking. Defense forcing turnovers. Get the ball to start the second half.
By the 4 1/2-minute mark of the third quarter, the suddenly unstoppable Jayhawks grabbed the lead for good and sucked the life right out of Jack Trice Stadium in what was the first of ISU’s eight Big 12 Conference losses.
Kansas 35, Iowa State 33.
“We didn’t change anything (at halftime),” said nose guard Nate Frere. “We just didn’t show up the second half. It’s one of those blunders that you can’t really explain.”
The Cyclones fought back in final minutes, scoring with 1:15 to play and recovering the onsides kick that followed. But they didn’t move the ball an inch. Austen Arnaud threw four straight incompletions and players and coaches were kicking themselves all the way back to the locker room.
Upset alert turned into an awfully good comeback win by quarterback Todd Reesing and KU.
“We knew they were going to come out and their coach was going to have them fired up,” said offensive lineman Ben Lamaak. “We didn’t step on their throat when we had the opportunity.”
There was a similarly empty feeling after last Saturday’s 24-23 loss to Kansas State at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. ISU had the lead, had chances to extend the lead, finished strong but could not make the plays necessary to win.
Last year’s conference-opening loss sent the Cyclones down the path to an 0-8 league finish.
They aren’t going to allow that to happen again, after last week’s gut-wrenching loss.
“Coach (Paul) Rhoads does a great job keeping everyone motivated and hungry,” Frere said. “It’s a different team that it has been in the past. You won’t see anyone give up, at all.”