10. The Gods Must Be
Crazy Cruel. When Mika'il McCall fell to the ground clutching his ankle it was déjà vu all over again for Hawkeyes fans. Iowa is apparently still settling its bill with the Gods for being given the best running back in the nation just three seasons ago. Blame it on inflation or loan shark rates, but in the last two seasons Iowa running backs have been sacrificed at an alarming rate. But whereas the Gods used to seek out more seasoned sacrifice, they now like their running backs fresh. Consider this, they took out McCall in his first ever college game, before him academic concerns prevented Rodney Coe from making it to campus out of high school; and Michael Malloy, who recently accepted a scholarship offer from Hawkeyes, may not even make it out of high school before his Iowa career is cut short. Yeah, even the innocent act of accepting a scholarship offer will enrage the Gods. If the Hawkeyes are smart they'll move Marcus Coker to linebacker this week, offer up Jason White and a loss to Iowa State to the ravenous Gods this Saturday, and then promise to run five-wides the rest of the season to, if nothing else, spare the career of some poor eighth grader somewhere.
9. Jantz To The Wall. Last Saturday the Cyclones had just given up an inexplicable and seemingly crushing 80-yard touchdown pass, and the lead, to Northern Iowa with less than five minutes left in the game, and at that moment all seemed lost. ISU had sauntered through the motions for 55 minutes and done little to convince anyone they were focused on the task at hand. But then QB Steele Jantz led Iowa State on a ballsy 9-play 60-yard drive for the winning score. Jantz did the honors by sneaking the ball into the end zone himself and with that the man of steele announced his arrival onto the college football scene. Expect Jantz to steal his next victory on Saturday from the favored Hawkeyes by click clacking them into submission with his iron and tungsten cojones.
8. Home Care. When the Iowa State Cyclones line up against the Iowa Hawkeyes for the 34th consecutive time since the renewal of this storied rivalry, it's probably fair to say Cyclones will be more invested in the outcome. According to Andrew Logue of the Des Moines Register, 54 of Iowa State's 131 players (or 41%) are homegrown, while only 43 of 113 (38%) of Iowa's players are from instate. That 3% corn fed advantage will likely play a huge role in determining the degree of interest, passion and determination each team will attempt to muster to ultimately win this game. Consider this too, Paul Rhoads was born and raised in Iowa while Kirk Ferentz merely has an office there. This Saturday, with the state up for grabs, don't expect the interlopers to make much of a difference because this is an Iowa thang.
7. Twin Peaks. The wide receiver tandem of Darius Darks and Darius Reynolds are Iowa State's twin brothers from another mother and their ability to catch the ball is surreal. On Saturday expect the duo to turn an expected Iowa State loss into a mysterious, bewildering Cyclone win shrouded in ambiguities and non sequiturs --- an experience for the Hawkeyes where the macabre and the mundane are juxtaposed to create a dreamlike experience for their players and fans that is, ultimately, all too real. In the final scene Collin Sleeper will be lying in the end zone after allowing a 50-yard desperation heave to be caught simultaneously by the Darius's, a catch that will become, inevitably, a permanent first clip on every Cyclone highlight reel from now until they drop football in 2015. As Sleeper lies on the field he's heard muttering in his sleep, "My dog barks some..." while rabbits eat away at the carcass of Shaun Prater who is lying just a few feet away after his heart has exploded with grief, all to a soundtrack by Angelo Badalamenti.
6. Recipe for Disaster. Paul Rhoads has served up a fair amount of interesting gruel to the Big 12, two of his recipes led to the ultimate upset stomach. Consider the following unlikely wins engineered by Rhoads: Nebraska at Lincoln as a massive underdog in 2009 and Texas in Austin in 2010, again facing enormous odds. After back-to-back blowout wins against the Cyclones one could forgive Hawkeye fans for being of the same mindset as the Cornhuskers and Longhorns fans before them, but expect Rhoads to make a dish best served cold this Saturday.
5. Up On Their Luck. The Cyclone were 3 for 3 on fourth down conversions against UNI. It's a telling statistic. It reveals that the Cyclones are willing to take a risk, mentally tough, and have some idea of what they are doing in these situations. I know what you're thinking: That's lucky and no one can sustain that sort of luck. Well, in 2010 LSU was 11 for 12 on fourth down conversions and they were playing for something. Just think that through people.
4. Kirby Van Der Kamp. In 2010 The Sporting News, Rivals.com, Phil Steele Publications and CollegeFootballNews.com all recognized Iowa State punter Kirby Van Der Kamp as a first-team freshman All-American. After averaging a gaudy 45.2 yards per kick, which is ranked second in Iowa State history, Van Der Camp used the offseason to make use of his new found fame by speaking to students around the
country county about the value of including baked beans and cucumbers in a well balanced diet. Expect the Cyclone punter to have the Hawkeyes pulling his finger this Saturday.
3. Trophy Schtrophy. In ancient Greece trophies were not two-handled cups or gold painted signifiers precariously resting upon wooden bases, and they certainly were not a silver casted scene out of "The Grapes of Wrath." No, in ancient times trophies were made right there on the battlefields after a victorious battle, from captured weapons and carcasses of the enemy, and were hung upon a tree or a large stake made to resemble a warrior. Often, these ancient trophies were inscribed with a story of the battle and were dedicated to various gods. Expect Kirk Ferentz to be swinging from a goal post this Saturday with headset in hand and the word "LOSER" scrawled in blood on his forehead.
2. Cyrious. In1895, as summer turned to fall, an unusually large number of what were referred to at the time as "cyclones" wreaked havoc upon the state of Iowa. Had there been in existence back then the sophisticated understanding of climatology that we now take for granted, Iowa State might today be known as the "Gustnadoes." However in the end ignorance is bliss, as the story goes. That fall underdog Iowa State played at Northwestern. After racing out to a 30-0 halftime lead, the Cardinals, as ISU's teams were widely known at the time, went on to complete a surprising 36-0 trouncing of the Wildcats. The headline in the next morning's Chicago Tribune sports section was "Iowa Cyclone Devastates Evanston Town," and since that famous moment in Iowa State football history, the athletic teams have been known as the "Cyclones." What's the real difference between a gustnado and a cyclone you might ask? A gustnado is a violently rotating column of air that extends from the base of a cumulonimbus cloud and touches the ground. It devastates most anything in its path and does so reliably and without compassion. Cyclones, on the other hand, are winds emanating from low pressure that, at most, may require you to use clips to keep your outdoor tablecloth from flying away. Expect the Cyclones to get their weather terminology in order this Saturday and blow the Hawkeyes away.
1. CJ Fiedorowicz. Need I Say More?