Iowa State’s home upset potential used to be an exaggerated myth. Now it’s an actual thing.
Iowa State converted No. 6 West Virginia into a creamy paste on Saturday night in Ames, beating the Mountaineers 30-14. The Cyclones knocked the ‘Eers from the ranks of the unbeaten and made an already open Big 12 even more chaotic. They also took another step toward living up to a reputation they’ve long had, even when it hasn’t been deserved.
In 2011, No. 2 Oklahoma State visited 5-4 Iowa State in November.
The Cowboys were undefeated and two wins away from clinching a BCS Championship spot. ISU was on its way to a 6-7 record and a Pinstripe Bowl loss. Both were actually slight improvements on the year before.
Oklahoma State lost, squandering its best title shot ever.
The Pokes were forced into a rematch with Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game, which was so transparently silly that it gave college football a strong nudge toward the playoff system that’d take effect three seasons later. ISU’s dramatic 37-31 win literally changed the trajectory of the sport.
The 2011 win also gave Jack Trice Stadium a reputation it didn’t live up to as a sort of mythical, haunted place where contenders went to die.
If you have spent 30 minutes scrolling through the depths of the college football internet in the last seven years, you’ve seen references to HOW SCARY IT IS TO PLAY IN AMES. (We have sometimes played along ourselves on this very website.)
But the results didn’t materialize. Iowa State’s next 11 home games against ranked teams:
- A 27-21 loss to No. 6 Kansas State in 2012
- A 35-20 loss to No. 14 Oklahoma in 2012
- A 58-27 loss to No. 19 Oklahoma State in 2013
- A 32-28 loss to No. 20 Kansas State in 2014
- A 49-28 loss to No. 7 Baylor in 2014
- A 59-14 loss to No. 19 Oklahoma in 2014
- A 45-21 loss to No. 3 TCU in 2015
- A 35-31 loss to No. 5 Oklahoma State in 2015
- A 45-42 loss to No. 13 Baylor in 2016
- A 34-24 loss to No. 12 Oklahoma in 2016
- A 49-19 loss to No. 19 West Virginia in 2016
That’s it. In the five years following the big Oklahoma State shocker, Iowa State went a tidy 0-11 at home against ranked teams. A few of the latter games in that spell were close, but any idea that Ames had became a graveyard for the sport’s elite was wrong.
In the last two years, Iowa State’s revived its UPSET ALERT credentials.
In 2017, the Cyclones beat then-No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman, 38-31. They planted their flag at Oklahoma’s midfield, and one of them yelled “Who’s your daddy?” Both were contextual burns of Baker Mayfield, who’d used them on other opponents earlier that year.
Later in ‘17, No. 4 TCU visited Jack Trice and lost to the Clones, 14-7. They later gave OSU a decent scare, falling 49-42 when the Pokes were ranked 12th.
And now we’ve come to Week 7 of 2018, and another ISU home win against a highly ranked foe. The sixth-ranked Mountaineers got their teeth kicked in.
The Oklahoma State win in 2011 built a myth around Iowa State that lasted longer than it should’ve. But now, the rep is real.
If you’re not in the Big 12, don’t schedule road games at Iowa State. And if you are, hope the Cyclones are down when it’s your turn to play them in their house.
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