A late great sports figure from Cedar Rapids once said “if you don’t know me, the hell with you.”
He was joking, but the point was made.
It’s the same with Saturday’s Iowa-Iowa State football game. If you don’t know about these two teams, well ...
Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. Saturday at Jack Trice Stadium and ESPN College GameDay will be in Ames.
This crazy week just got a lot crazier.
Here are “3 Things” about the Cyclones.
1. The season
The verdict remains out on this year’s Iowa State team.
A triple-overtime win over a ranked FCS team, Northern Iowa, apparently didn’t impress the voters in the Associated Press or Coaches polls. The Cyclones started the season ranked 21st by the AP, 24th by the coaches. After a the close win and a bye week, they are no longer ranked.
We do know, however, Iowa State has a lot of talent on this year’s team and expectations remain high in Ames. That hasn’t changed since last year ended in the Alamo Bowl.
There’s a reason the Cyclones began as slight favorites Saturday.
Brock Purdy remains the offensive leader and didn’t disappoint in the win over UNI. He completed 30 of 41 passes (73 percent) for 278 yards against the Panthers, a 146.22 quarterback rating. Deshaunte Jones emerged as his favorite target, helping ease the pain of losing Hakeem Butler to the NFL. Jones caught 14 passes for 126 yards.
Getting the ball in the hands of others has been the goal since that win.
Replacing David Montgomery in the backfield has proved to be more difficult.
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Three backs combined for 38 of the 45 carries against UNI. Johnnie Lang was the leader at 60 yards on 14 carries. Sheldon Croney added 56 yards, Breece Hall 47. This week’s depth chart has Croney or Lang or Kene Nwangwu or Hall or Jirehl Brock listed. Yes, five running backs are listed as the possible starter.
The ISU defense had some lapses against UNI, but did hold the Panthers to 57 rushing yards.
2. Breece Hall buzz
During spring and fall camp, Hall was getting as much attention as any of the running backs vying to replace Montgomery.
Maybe that’s because he’s a 6-foot-1, 205-pound freshman who happens to be a cousin to former Davenport Central/Nebraska/San Francisco 49er great Roger Craig.
Maybe it’s because he picked the Cyclones over Iowa, Baylor, Kansas State, Michigan and Tennessee after rushing for 4,516 career yards at Northwest High School in Wichita, Kan.
Maybe the 18-year-old is the answer to ISU’s running game, if not this year, definitely in the future.
“He’s a really intelligent kid and he’s very serious about this game and this team,” ISU offensive coordinator Tom Manning told the Ames Tribune in April, shortly after Hall arrived on campus. “I’m really excited to get him going.”
3. Did you know ...
Pop Warner once coached the Cyclones? Glenn Scobey Warner, credited with many innovations in the game, coached at Iowa Agricultural College and Modern Farm (yes, that’s ISU) from 1895 through 1899. He is credited with an 18-8 record in 4 1/3 seasons, although he wasn’t always on the sidelines for the Cyclones.
You see, at the time Warner also coached at Georgia and later he shared his time with Cornell University.
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Apparently, Warner took the job at ISU — or IACMF — for $25 a week. Georgia offered him $34. But because ISU started its season a month-and-a-half before Georgia, he kept both jobs. While in Athens, Ga., he would get weekly updates, via telegraph, and reply with his advice.
He later worked out the same deal with his alma mater, Cornell. He coached Cornell to a 5-3-1 record in 1897 and a 10-2 mark in 1898. Iowa State was 3-1 in 1897 and 3-2 in 1898.
His best season at Iowa State was 1896, when the team went 8-2 and opened the season with a 36-0 upset at Northwestern. Folks in Ames must have liked the headline “Struck by a Cyclone” in the next day’s Chicago Tribune because the school adopted “Cyclones” as its nickname after.
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