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AMES — After Iowa State beat then-No. 3 Oklahoma, football coach Matt Campbell didn’t say the win was going to turn around the program.
How the Cyclones responded to the win would.
Iowa State will get its first chance to respond at 11 a.m. Saturday against Kansas inside Jack Trice Stadium.
Campbell said the Oklahoma week and the Kansas week were similar in a lot of ways because there was a lot of outside chatter during both.
Before the Oklahoma game, offensive coordinator Tom Manning was under fire for his play calling against Texas. Star running back David Montgomery only got nine carries in that game, Iowa State routinely stalled once it crossed the 50-yard line, only scoring once in six tries, and the Cyclones mustered only seven points.
Now, the noise is all positive after the upset in Norman, Okla. The national media was swept up in Joel Lanning, Iowa State’s non-scholarship backup quarterback (Kyle Kempt) won the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback of the Week and Iowa State was named National Team of the Week.
Positive or negative, Campbell wants his team to block out all the outside noise and focus on the task at hand — winning another football game.
“I don’t think there’s any difference between last week and this week in a lot of ways, in terms of distraction and noise,” Campbell said. “Adversity comes in two ways, positive or negative, and that’s the character of a football team.”
Campbell told his team only 10 percent of the country can handle success.
“What a huge challenge for Iowa State football right now,” Campbell said. “Can you handle the opportunity to play a game where you played and some really positive things happened, and then can you handle success? That’s going to be a great challenge for us. I think this team and this group of seniors have really handled every challenge that’s come at them so far.”
In this age of social media, it can be hard for 18- to 22-year-old players to stay grounded. Campbell said Iowa State’s 19 seniors are going to have to step up and lead to make sure none of the noise gets in their head.
The seniors have been through a lot during their time at Iowa State. They’ve become hardened to the outside noise.
“We’ve been waiting for a long time for something like the (Oklahoma game) to finally push us over the edge and get this program restarted,” senior safety Kamari Cotton-Moya said. “We’re just getting started. We’ve bounced back and we’re ready to get it going in the right direction.”
Lanning wants Iowa State to be a Big 12 championship-caliber program.
“We’re not going to cap our season off just because we beat Oklahoma,” Lanning said. “We’re trying to turn this program into a championship program and we want to play in those big-time bowl games. We have a lot of work left to do.”
And the remaining workload starts with Kansas.
While Kansas has been bad recently, going 2-22 in the previous two seasons, it still has Division I football players who can pull the occasional upset, like against Texas last season.
“They have athletes and they have a lot of talent,” receiver Allen Lazard said. “I think their coach (David Beaty) said they’re basically the same team as us, which is true to an extent, but I think that we’re more of a team-based team. We just have to go out there and work 11 as one.”
Since day one, Campbell has preached “trust in the process” to his team, the fans and the media. Saturday could go a long way in finding out how well that process works.
“(The team) has never flinched so far and I really appreciate that about this group,” Campbell said. “We’ll see if they can keep handling it.”
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