Football season is rapidly approaching. The WRNL staff is getting excited. As we head towards the beginning of the 7th season with Matt Campbell as the head coach at Iowa State, we wanted to look back and rank our top 10 wins from the first 6 seasons. To do this, the staff was polled to give their personal 1-10 rankings. Win #1 was worth 10 points, #2 worth 9 points, and on down. The games that earned the most “points” are what we will look back on throughout this series. Coming in at #4 is the 2017 home win against TCU.
SETTING THE STAGE
The Cyclones had an incredible month of October to this point, with a road win over then #3 Oklahoma already on the resume. Iowa State cracked the AP Top 25 for this one and this game was hyped as one of the biggest in the history of Jack Trice Stadium. TCU was a darling of college football to this point in the season, with a 7-0 record and a #4 ranking. QB Kenny Hill had rehabbed his image and the Horned Frogs were a legit CFP contender. Iowa State was a great story but still a bit of a one hit wonder. After this Saturday, that was no longer the case.
Iowa State got off to a terrific start in this game. Kyle Kempt got the offense going early, and Allen Lazard was absolutely bodying the smaller TCU corners. Iowa State’s endless parade of tall receivers came through again as Kempt hit Matthew Eaton for the opening score. The Cyclone defense continued to make plays, and Lazard managed to keep the offense moving. Late in the 2nd quarter, Kempt’s 2nd TD pass went to Hakeem Butler, who just managed to keep his feet in bounds to make it 14-0 Cyclones at halftime.
A special teams blunder opened the 2nd half, as TCU’s only reliable weapon, KeVontae Turpin took a kickoff back for a TD and all of a sudden the score was 14-7 Cyclones. Then, Iowa State’s offense completely stalled out. TCU wasn’t much better, but late in the 3rd quarter they put a few positive runs together and found themselves in the red zone. That’s where Kenny Hill’s first huge mistake happened. Brian Peavy picked off the errant pass and brought it deep into TCU territory. Garrett Owens missed a short field goal that would’ve given us a 2 score lead, and back to grind the game out mode we went.
The 4th quarter was absolutely nuts. It was all about survival for Iowa State, as the offense was not going to move the ball at all. Thankfully the best defensive effort of this era wasn’t about to let up. After TCU drove down to the 3 yard line, a hold pushed the Frogs back to just outside the 10. Time for another massive defensive play, with Willie Harvey and Jaquan Bailey combining to knock the ball free on a strip sack, which JD Waggoner recovered. After a couple more possessions of stalled out offense, TCU was down to their last chance. A game we’ve seen the Iowa State program lose 100 times wasn’t going to be denied this time. Marcel Spears perfectly read a pass over the middle and made an incredible 1 handed interception. The Matt Campbell Iowa State Cyclones had arrived. Fans absolutely poured onto the field for Sweet Caroline in one of the best atmospheres in program history.
- LB Marcel Spears (9 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 INT)
- CB Brian Peavy (7 tackles, 1 INT)
- WR Allen Lazard (6 receptions, 106 yards)
- Kyle Kempt hits Matthew Eaton to give Iowa State an early lead
- Hakeem Butler stays in bounds to make it 14-0 Iowa State
- Brian Peavy intercepts Kenny Hill for TCU’s first turnover
- Red zone turnover #2 - Jaquan Bailey and Willie Harvey combine for a strip sack and JD Waggoner recovers the fumble on Iowa State’s 15 yard line
- One more turnover - Marcel Spears intercepts Kenny Hill to seal the win
HEAR FROM OUR STAFF
I was a young boy, just a 16-year-old boy with a dream for our hometown Clonies. I remember Iowa State was kind of becoming the darlings of college football in some people’s eyes. Kyle Kempt had become a name that wasn’t followed by “who?” in Cyclone households. I was also a big fan of TCU’s quarterback, Kenny Hill. Kenny Trill (meaning true and real) was one of my favorite players in the Big 12 for whatever reason. The game definitely had a certain buzz to it, Iowa State riding a 3-game win streak in October that included the improbable win in Norman and TCU being 7-0 and ranked 4th.
I think it was our first possession when Kempt threw as he was it and floated in the air for ~an hour and Allen Lazard somehow got underneath of it. That was the first time I realized that these weren’t the Cyclones of the past who squander these big game opportunities. We obviously scored a few plays later and Jack Trice was rocking. What a time to be alive. Before the end of the first half when Hakeem Butler caught a touchdown was the when I thought we might actually do the damn thing. Then USFL legend KeVontae Turpin happened. ISU stalls, TCU is within the 10-yard line and Kenny Trill misses everyone but Brian Peavy who then has the worst convoy of blockers ever assembled.
Next came one of my favorite plays in ISU history. Hill takes a sack in the red zone and for whatever reason, Willie Harvey jumped and his knee jarred the football loose, Cyclone football. How many times has Iowa State been the team to lose a football with a chance to tie in something like that? These were not your grandmother’s Cyclones. What’s that? TCU gets another chance? BAH GAWD THAT’S MARCEL SPEARS’ MUSIC! He capped off his great afternoon with the play of the day. We storm the field, the rest is history. Iowa State didn’t blow their shot in a big game, one of the all-time games in Cyclone history. -Aiden Wyatt