Paul “Slump-Bustin” Rhoads

Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sport

No, I will not relate Paul Rhoads to fat chicks.

It seems like almost one hundred years ago that Paul Rhoads rode into Ames on his chariot of anonymity. Gene Chizik had just bailed on Iowa State for Auburn and the Paul Rhoads hiring by Jamie Pollard had many people saying, "who?". One Cyclone fan that will go unnamed asked me if Pollard just thought he was being clever by hiring the former Auburn defensive coordinator since that was the destination for Eugene. (Regardless of the results the answer to that is still, "probably".)

It didn't take long for Rhoads to win over the fans or to start producing in ways that Iowa State had never seen for a coach so early in his tenure. Rhoads soon began smashing negative streaks and busting all of the current slumps the Cyclone football program found itself in.

First things first, Iowa State was on a 10 game losing streak when Rhoads came to town. That slump was busted in game one of his coaching career with a win over North Dakota State to open the 2009 season.

The Cyclones had lost 17 consecutive road games but the busting of that slump came in the first road game of 2009 when Iowa State beat Kent State 34-14. I know you're thinking, "Kent State, big deal." And, I know where you're coming from but consider some of the previous road games that were lost in that 17 game streak to teams like a terrible Colorado team in 2008, UNLV, and Toledo and maybe any road win is a worthwhile road win.

The Cyclones had lost nine straight conference games prior to 2009 (a streak that grew to 11 under Rhoads) but in Rhoads' third Big 12 game at home against Baylor he was able to put that streak to rest as well.

Iowa State had lost 13 straight conference road games dating back to 2005 when an outright Big 12 North title slipped through the fingertips of Dan McCarney. Rhoads lost his first conference road game in a near miss 41-36 thriller in Lawrence. The next road game out though, in Lincoln, Nebraska the Cyclones put together a win for the ages with the 9-7 win over the Huskers. Need I even mention that it was the first time Iowa State had won in Lincoln since 1977?

Prior to 2009 Iowa State had lost their previous 12 games versus ranked opponents which dated back to the "Tornado Game" against Colorado in 2005. That continued through the first five games against ranked teams in the Rhoads era, but finally, at 17 games into the streak of losses the Cyclones beat a ranked team when they took down Texas 28-21 in 2010.

Oh, by the way...that Texas game was on the road and that also gave Iowa State their first win over a ranked team on the road since their 1990 win over Oklahoma in Norman. A streak of 34 games prior to 2009 and 37 by the time it was snapped in 2010. Which leads me to one of my favorite Paul Rhoads stats; everyone knows that Gene Chizik was 5-19 in Ames for a win percentage of 0.2083. So far in the Rhoads era at Iowa State against ranked teams on the road? 0.3000.

Then the grand-daddy of slump busting happens when something is accomplished that has never before occurred, and that is the win over #2 Oklahoma State in 2011. In the history of the program ISU was 0-48 against teams in the top six of the rankings prior to that victory.

Aside from the streaks of not winning national or conference titles there is one other "low hanging fruit" on the "slumps that need busted" tree. The Cyclones haven't won a conference opening game since 2002. 2002!

The Cyclones took down Kansas 45-3 one week after the infamous 38-31 loss to Florida State in Kansas City to open the 2002 season.

Mangino was in his first season with the Jayhawks. Austen Arnaud was a freshman...in high school. The student parking lot was on the pavement in S5 right outside the stadium. Nobody had ever heard of Jamie Pollard. Fred Hoiberg was still playing in the NBA.

In 2003 Iowa State lost all eight conference games so the opener was mostly inconsequential. In 2004 and 2005 the Cyclones had two pretty strong teams but both started 0-3 before winning four straight and losing the conference finale and a trip to the Big 12 title game. In 2006, Iowa State started 0-7 before winning the McCarney farewell game over Missouri. In 2007 the Cyclones lost their first five under Chizik before beating Kansas State and Colorado at home. In 2008, ISU once again lost every conference game after the opener. In 2009, Iowa State lost the opener in Kansas City to Kansas State before finishing 3-5 in conference play. Same story in 2010.

For ten straight years Iowa State has started conference play off on the wrong foot, with a loss. The last two seasons Iowa State has opened at home as a 3-0 team, versus Texas in 2011 and Texas Tech in 2012. Neither time could the offense do enough and both games resulted in losses.

This year the team is already teetering on the brink with their 0-2 start that every game is important but that is especially the case for home games. And no home game will set the tone better for the rest of the year than the conference opener versus Texas on national television.

Bust that slump and a lot of possibilities may still be on the table for the 2013 season.

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