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Classic Games in Cyclone Football History: 2009 Insight Bowl vs. Minnesota

Paul Rhoads gets his first (and only) bowl win as the Cyclones skipper. The team would win two more games this season than they had in the past two seasons combined.

Iowa State Cyclones quarterback (4) Austen Arnaud throws a pass in the first quarter against the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the 2009 Insight Bowl at Sun Devil Stadium.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The 2009 Insight Bowl was our second appearance in The Grand Canyon State during the 2000s. CFTV and CBS provide the following previews of the 21st Copper/Insight Bowl.

Like most bowl games, there are fun events preceding the game. One such example is this go kart day following practice.

This recap is from Iowa State Athletics/

Insight Bowl Champs!

TEMPE, Ariz.—Iowa State made it count when it mattered. After suffering four turnovers, the resilient Cyclones forced a key turnover of their own late in the game to stop a Minnesota rally and claim the 2009 Insight Bowl Thursday night, 14-13 at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz.

The Cyclones received a stellar effort from running back Alexander Robinson, who rambled for 137 yards, his sixth 100-yard game of the season, to help control the game. Robinson, who earned Insight Bowl Offensive Player of the Game honors, was aided by a career-high 83 yards receiving from Jake Williams, as the Cyclones improve to 7-6 on the season and 3-7 all-time in bowl games.

First-year head coach Paul Rhoads became the first Cyclone skipper to record a winning mark in his initial season since George Veenker went 5-3 in 1931. It was the first Cyclone victory over Minnesota since 1898.

”Our football team showed a lot of grit to overcome four turnovers to win this game,” Rhoads said. “We took advantage of a couple of their turnovers and we had some great efforts from both the offense and defense tonight. We improved and that was our No. 1 goal this year. We have improved in every aspect of our program. We have made some people happy by getting here, but by winning this game and finishing it off with a bowl trophy, we now have a program that is on its way. Our program has credibility now and I owe that to all to the kids who work so hard for this program.”

The first quarter ended at 3-0 in favor of Minnesota. The only scoring was a 36-yard field goal from Eric Ellestad. ISU’s only shot at a score was in its first drive when it marched 48 yards down the field to the Minnesota 26-yard line. But the drive stalled when Robinson was stuffed on a 4th-and-1 situation.

Insight Bowl - Minnesota v Iowa State Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

ISU took the lead with 4:35 left in the first half on a 9-yard option touchdown run from Austen Arnaud, his eighth of the season, to make it 7-3 Iowa State. The scoring drive went for 71 yards on 10 plays and was set up by two key 3-and-14 conversions. Arnaud hit Williams for 15 yards on the first one and Arnaud later scrambled for 18 yards up the middle to pick up the second long conversion.

David Sims then came up with a huge play for the Cyclones by intercepting an Adam Weber pass at the ISU goal line. The Cyclones then promptly produced their longest scoring drive of the season with an 89-yard, six-play march in one minute that was capped off by a Williams 38-yard touchdown grab from Arnaud. Williams’ fifth touchdown snare put ISU up 14-3 going into the break.

The Gophers trimmed the lead to 14-10 with 5:22 left in the third quarter when Weber hit Nick Tow-Arnett from 23 yards out. The touchdown drive was kept alive by a UM fake punt pass that went for 40 yards.

ISU’s fourth turnover of the game, a fumble by Arnaud, proved costly, as the Gophers capitalized on another Cyclone mistake with a 21-yard field goal by Ellestad to cut the lead to 14-13 in the closing moments of the third quarter.

After Mike Brandtner pinned the Gophers at the 1-yard line in the fourth quarter, UM quickly moved down the field in a matter moments to the ISU 15-yard line. However, MarQueis Gray fumbled on the next play where it was recovered by Ter’ran Benton to help the Cyclones avoid losing the lead with 4:04 left in the game.

ISU proceeded to run out the clock with strong carries by Robinson and Arnaud to finish off the game.

Arnaud ended the game with 216 yards passing on 19-of-26 attempts. He also ran for 76 yards. Christopher Lyle was named the defensive player of the game with his strong effort on the defensive line. Lyle had one sack.

Robinson’s 137-yard rushing effort is the sixth by a Cyclone in a bowl game, ranking fourth all-time.

Insight Bowl - Minnesota v Iowa State Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

”I can’t say enough about the support of the Iowa State fans,” Rhoads added. “It’s amazing how many of them made the trip down here. It certainly felt like Jack Trice Stadium.”

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