Category Archives: Iowa State vs. Nebraska

Eating Crow After Close Call at Iowa State, Sort of

BY TODD NEELEY

Some people take themselves way too seriously.

I wrote a blog last week ahead of the Nebraska/Iowa State game in which I pretty much said it was way past midnight on the series with the Cyclones, http://dld.bz/58e5.

If you read the comments in response to the blog you’ll see I got into a little “discussion” with a handful of readers who said they were Iowa State fans. Unfortunately there was hardly a comment that didn’t resort to personal attacks on yours truly.

Did I have some of it coming?

You be the judge.

I threw down some pretty hard smack on how I believe the series between these two teams has been a waste of time for Nebraska.

And Saturday’s 31-30 Nebraska win on a dramatic interception by Eric Hagg on a fake point-after try by ISU in overtime, has done nothing to change my belief that it’s time to put these one-sided series on the shelf.

Nothing has changed for me.

An occasional uprising by teams like ISU every decade isn’t enough if Nebraska wants to compete for national championships. For those ISU fans who don’t get that, too bad, but Nebraska has always been about winning championships. That’s just the way it is around here.

Let’s face it, all fan bases have those people who resort to name calling. Whatever happened to engaging in a real debate on the merits of what I had to say? Why not throw a little Nebraska smack back at me rather than resorting to name calling?

They no more represent the entire ISU fan base than I represent the Nebraska fan base. But if you can’t take the smack, find another blog to read.

The point remains — in this day and age when style points mean everything in college football, Nebraska can no longer afford to play cupcakes. And even good and decent ISU fans will admit their team has — by and large — been a cupcake.

Speaking of food, I’ll eat just a little crow on that tight game in Ames.

I said Nebraska would run away from ISU 42-14. But the absense of Taylor Martinez and all-American candidate  cornerback Alfonzo Dennard made for a much closer game than many people expected. ISU fans made a point that the Cyclones won in Lincoln last season with their backup quarterback and backup running back.

I’ll submit to you, ISU fans, that Nebraska won in Ames pretty much without a quarterback.

I’ll give credit to Iowa State. They again took advantage of numerous Nebraska mistakes and made a couple of plays on offense to make a game of it.

But ISU had no answer for running back Rex Burkhead, who ran the Nebraska offense from the ‘wildcat’ formation. By the way, why the heck did NU play Cody Green at all on Saturday? He has proven what I said here awhile back — that he’s all hype and has been a huge disappointment for Nebraska fans.

About last week’s blog, I said what I meant and meant what I said.

I pointed out the obvious: That the series with ISU has never been a rivalry — 18 Cyclone wins in 114 years since these two teams started playing each other does not constitute a rivalry. Not even close.

For years to come fans will remember this last Nebraska/Iowa State game for several reasons.

First, ISU Head Coach Paul Rhoads showed great courage in faking the point-after attempt to go for two. But it made no sense to put the game in the hands of your kick holder instead of just going for two with Austen Arnaud running the offense. That was a critical miss for ISU, especially since the Cyclones had success moving the ball on the Blackshirts.

Second, great teams make big plays when the game is on the line. If Hagg didn’t pick off that pass in the endzone we’d be lamenting the rotten taste of two consecutive losses to Iowa State to end Big 12 play for Nebraska. And ISU fans, at least the ones I’ve heard from, would be talking about how Iowa State has arrived.

Third, Nebraska is a great team with Taylor Martinez running the offense and inconsistent without him.

Speaking of crow, Kansas comes to Lincoln Saturday in what will be, again, the last game in yet another cupcake series for Nebraska.

ISU fans also pointed out in their comments (in between the personal attacks) that Nebraska would have it rough in the Big Ten.

You know, that may be true.

But let’s put it this way — next season’s first Big Ten schedule for Nebraska will be necessarily brutal. NU plays Ohio State, Wisconsin, Iowa, Penn State, Michigan and Michigan State in 2011.

Maybe it’s just me, but if Nebraska runs the table next year it looks a lot better than running the table on Missouri, Kansas, Kansas State, Colorado and Iowa State.

Then again, maybe it’s just me.

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Goodbye Iowa State, Nice Owning You

BY TODD NEELEY

Remember when Nebraska joined the Big Ten? The reaction coming from Big 12 schools was all over the chart.

Kansas officials practically begged NU not to leave. Boone Pickens (representing Oklahoma State’s view, I guess, since he practically owns the program in Stillwater), said “What’s Nebraska got to offer?”

And remember Iowa State fans?

Well they were critics of Nebraska making the move — a strange bit of criticism coming from a fan base that has watched its Cyclones flounder for so long– especially against Nebraska.

Iowa State has won just 18 games in the series since 1896. Yet, a preview story in the Des Moines Register Wednesday somewhat lamented the end of a “rivalry,” http://dld.bz/4YKF.

You’re kidding, right?

Let me explain something for those Iowa State fans who have for many years fantasized about this being a rivalry. A rivalry is when two teams of equal prominence battle nearly every season for a chance at a conference championship.

No, that’s definitely not Iowa State.

Sure, Nebraska will miss having that near-automatic win on its schedule every year. And wow, we’ll really miss traveling to the middle of Nowhere, Iowa, every other year to play in one of the few stadiums in college football where it just feels like a home game on the road.

Well, now it’s Iowa State week in 2010, and there’s every reason to believe Nebraska will get the last laugh in Ames in what has been a pathetic, waste-of-time series for NU.

You know things have been bad when ISU fans were totally geeked after the 9-7 “win” in Lincoln last year. Now they look at Paul Rhoads as if he’s the second coming of — oh this one will hurt — Dan McCarney. ISU should have never let that guy get away. Afterall, he represents the “glory days” of ISU football.

In 12 seasons McCarney won just 27 conference games and lost 68. Yet he’s one of the few Cyclone coaches that has had any level of success against Nebraska. He’s virtually a legend at Iowa State with that eye-popping, all-time record of 56-85.

I’ll remind ISU fans that the Cyclones did absolutely nothing to win that game in Lincoln last year.

Let’s put it in perspective: Nebraska gave you eight turnovers, including four inside the ISU 5-yard line, and was still a field goal away from winning.

Yeah, the win at Texas a couple of weeks ago was nice, but somewhat diminished the following week when the Shorthorns lost again at home to Baylor.

That’s a nice bit of smack ISU fans can throw Nebraska’s way — ‘we beat Texas and you didn’t.’ You can have that one, Iowa State, and you can have that 52-0 loss to Oklahoma and the 68-27 loss to Utah too — Oh ouch, those had to sting.

Let me translate: Playing Nebraska this week isn’t going to be any easier.

NU will show the Cyclones just why it’s time to leave the Big 12. These one-sided games have been cramping Nebraska’s style for quite some time.

It appears the Iowa State/Nebraska game this year is heading closer to a sell-out (for ISU fans who don’t quite understand what I’m describing: It’s the same thing that’s happened on football Saturdays in Lincoln for more than 300 consectutive games, where every game ticket is sold, but I digress.)

ISU fans’ silence will be deafening.

It is as simple as this — Nebraska may never again commit eight turnovers in game, and ISU won’t be able to keep up.

Iowa State’s defense gives up an average of 433 yards a game, including 194 rushing. Nebraska comes in with the sixth-best rushing offense in the country.

In looking at the ISU offense it’s difficult to see how it can move the ball consistently against Nebraska. The Cyclones are 75th in total offense in the country, including 90th in passing offense and 40th in rushing offense.

Alexander Robinson is a good back who averages about 80 yards rushing, but is the only threat Iowa State has. Let’s see, where have we seen this before? Oh yeah, Kansas State had only Daniel Thomas and lost 48-13 at home to Nebraska. ISU quarterback Austin Arnaud has no receivers who can come remotely close to testing the Nebraska secondary.

From what Nebraska coaches have said it will be a game-time decision on whether Taylor Martinez starts at quarterback, as he continues to recover from an ankle injury suffered against Missouri last week. I think there’s a 50-50 chance Nebraska starts Zac Lee in his place, with the idea that Martinez could come off the bench if he’s needed.

Chances are Nebraska won’t need Martinez, and likely will ride running backs Roy Helu Jr. and Rex Burkhead to what should be an easy win.

Goodbye Iowa State. Nice owning you, maybe we’ll meet in a bowl game sometime.

Well, probably not, ISU would need to win at least six games every year.

Oh well, it was fun.

There won’t be eight turnovers in this game, as Nebraska proves a point: Nebraska 42, Iowa State 14.