Well, here we are again, Cyclone fans. It’s November and the optimism many of us felt before the first game was played has long since worn off.
That’s alright — we should have expected that to happen if we’ve cheered for the Cyclones long enough, because it always happens.
And, tonight, Iowa State welcomes the Sooners of Oklahoma into Jack Trice Stadium for a Thursday night game under the lights. ESPN will be there. Jesse Palmer readied himself by checking out the football program’s weight room (can we suit him up tonight?). The game will be broadcast to a nation still recovering from one of the best World Series game 7’s ever (Go Cubs, Go!).
Sorry, rest of nation. This game likely won’t be as exciting.
Iowa State is 1-7 entering this matchup. Nobody, outside of one of our writers, who also believes Taco Bell is the best restaurant in Ames, honestly believes this team will win more than 2, possibly 3 games this year. We’ve come to terms with that and as long as we don’t lose to Kansas, nobody’s disappointment will linger long into basketball season. We’ll collect ourselves, forget about the gridiron for a few months, then stupidly jump back on the bandwagon next summer when time has sufficiently separated us from reality. This is our cycle.
Oklahoma is Oklahoma. Yes, they have suffered outside the Big 12 this year, with losses to Houston and Ohio State, but they have also scored 66 points at Texas Tech and 56 last weekend against KU. They are a 21 point favorite and will likely destroy us like they always do.
That is, unless the Cyclones decide to get crazy and let it all hang out tonight, and that’s exactly what I’m hoping takes place.
What do we have to lose?
If I were head coach Matt Campbell, I tell my team we’re having some fun tonight. If we kick first, we’re on-siding that son-of-a-bitch and then first play from scrimmage, we’re running the god-damn Hail Mary to the end zone and #5 is catching that fu*ker.
Then, I’m on-side kicking again. Because fu*k you, Bob Stoops.
You know what my second play from scrimmage will be? Yep, quarterback draw. Everyone in Crimson and Cream thinks I’m throwing deep again, but I’m not. Joel Lanning is bell-dozing his way 45 yards for that second fu*cking touchdown.
Third time around, Oklahoma will probably be expecting a third straight on-side kick. And, they’re right to, because I’m not kicking the ball deep the whole damn game.
But they recover it this time. Barely.
Now it’s Baker Mayfield’s time. Bob Stoops is pissed and his brother is not far away, sniveling and begging his sibling for mercy. Big Game Bob wants a big-time play, so he calls a deep pass of his own. But, what’s this? Jhaustin Thomas breaks through the heralded Sooner front and pressures the transient from Taco-Tech. Mayfield hurriedly tosses the ball 40 yards down the field right into the waiting arms of D’Andre Payne. Payne makes one cut before sprinting down the field, crop-dusting the Sooner sidelines on his way to the first defensive touchdown of the year for Iowa State.
21-0 Cyclones with 12:31 left in the first quarter.
At this point, the Cyclones in attendance, fueled from almost 24 straight hours of booze and sports related stress, are in a frenzy. Many, still celebrating the Cubs’ historic win, can only stand and stare blankly at the scoreboard wondering if they are actually in some WestWorld-type fantasy land where everything around them is fake and exists only to fulfill their deepest desires. How else can you explain what you are seeing at this exact moment?
Coach Stoops calls his first time out to try and collect himself. Spittle is everywhere as he strides up and down his bench, yelling obscenities and questioning his young players’ heart.
“This is Iowa State,” he yells to nobody in particular. “IOWA-FUCKING-STATE! WE DON’T LOSE TO IOWA-MOTHER-FUCKING-STATE!”
And, he’s right. Oklahoma seemingly never loses to Iowa State. I was 15 the last time that actually happened and I have no recollection of the event. Even during his time as a Hawkeye, I don’t believe Bobby ever lost to little-brother. So, imagine his shock at this point. Close your eyes and feel it as if you were him. Wrap yourself in the comfort of his fear blanket.
You’re smiling, aren’t you? Good.
Anyway, the commercials are over and the cameras are back on inside Jack Trice Stadium. Brent Mussburger is saying something to the viewers at home but nobody can hear him because the 40k + drunk people below him drown out all other sound.
But the team knows what they must do, and they line up for their fourth on-side of the first quarter. Oklahoma now has 10 men on the line, 1 deep. These eleven players represent the entire Sooners receiving corp. It’s a squib kick that bounces near the 25 yard line. Eleven players scramble for the ball. Nobody blocks. Eventually, somebody picks it up. They’re dressed in all red.
It’s Allen Lazard and the Cyclones have the ball again.
Now, even in this fan-fiction where I’m Matt Campbell and everything is going my way, I need to inject some levity, as well as brevity, to the story. So, let’s assume we score on that turnover, making the score 28-0 with only 5 minutes of time run off the clock. Historic start and everything’s coming up Milhouse, right?
Well, fast forward to the end of the game which the Cyclones have lost 57-28, because, well because Oklahoma always beat the Cyclones and honestly, it’s stupid to on-side kick EVERY time.
But we had fun, didn’t we?
Yes, we still lost and our record is now 1-8, but we had enjoyed ourselves when nothing else was on the line. The Cyclones have nothing to lose tonight except the opportunity to have fun and I’m hoping Coach puts them in position to do that just as I did.
Well, maybe not exactly as I did.
Be reckless. Let it all hang out. Have fun. Get weird.
And, who knows? You might just win the damn game doing it.