AMES — Iowa State fans know the stats by now.
Coach Matt Campbell is 6-0 in the month of October since last season and 5-2 against ranked teams since last season.
After a slow start against a heavily front-loaded schedule, Iowa State is 3-3 at the halfway point. The Cyclones have a better than good chance to go to their second straight bowl with the remaining schedule featuring Kansas, Kansas State and Baylor. Iowa State also has Texas Tech, a team Campbell hasn’t lost to since becoming the head coach of Iowa State and No. 8 Texas, which will likely provide the biggest challenge to getting a win. Lastly, the Cyclones have Incarnate Word coming to Ames, the makeup game for the rained-out South Dakota State game.
After Iowa State’s 30-14 win over then-No. 6 West Virginia on Saturday, Campbell recalled his introductory press conference.
“I know I said this when I got the job, ‘Sooner or later, they’ll be playing important games in Ames, Iowa,’” Campbell said.
It’s fair to say, Iowa State will be playing important games during the second half of the season.
The story is well told, but Campbell took the Iowa State position, in part, because of how impressed he was with the Iowa State fan base when he was the coach of Toledo.
He wants to reward them.
“That (Toledo-Iowa State game) was really powerful,” Campbell said. “I don’t know if you ever envision what you could be, but you feel what it could be — especially when we came here with that Toledo team. We saw the power of the people and it was powerful.”
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The next sentence Campbell said applies to more than just football. It’s almost an existential type of response.
“All anybody has ever wanted was something to give them hope,” Campbell continued. “And I really hope our team is starting to give this fan base hope that we can get this done here for a long time.”
In order to continue to give fans hope, he understands his team needs to continue to improve. While the game against West Virginia was a statistical blowout, the 30-14 score was much closer.
Iowa State’s special teams struggled, missing an extra point, having a field goal blocked and returned for a touchdown and missing another field goal. The offense was stagnant in the third quarter and the team committed 10 penalties for 95 yards.
“You want to continue to get better week in and week out,” Campbell said in classic coach-speak manner. “We’re still a really young team in a lot of ways and when you have youth and you continue to grow and build a program, you hope that the trajectory is going forward rather than backwards or plateauing. It’s this group’s choice. They have a big decision to make.
“We’re at the midway point in the season and where do we go from here? What’s our story? And we’ll see. We have some really good leadership and I really feel like these guys want to continue to get better week in and week out.”
Defensive end JaQuan Bailey took the words right out of his coach’s mouth.
“We just trusting the process, baby,” Bailey said with a grin.
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