The Iowa State Cyclones have some of the most loyal fans in the country.
Need proof? In 2014, the Cyclones went 2-10, but were still able to average at least 52,000-plus fans for each home game in a stadium that seats 61,500 people. In 2015, Iowa State’s average attendance per game increased by 4,000 fans while the team went 3-9. The Cyclone faithful stay true to the cardinal and gold no matter what. That showed in Iowa State’s 2016 home opener against the UNI Panthers.
Jack Trice Stadium was plastered with Cyclone fans when Iowa State took on Northern Iowa–60,629 to be exact. However, those bystanders experienced a far too common result: an Iowa State loss.
The Panthers defeated the Cyclones, 25-20. Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell knows the fans who bleed cardinal and gold deserve better.
“My biggest regret is for this fan base,” Campbell said during his postgame press conference. “There’s got to be a point in time where we draw the line and quit disappointing them. That’s my mission. That’s my goal.”
For Campbell to accomplish his objective at Iowa State, he needs to make sure that the Cyclones stop making crucial errors–primarily turnovers.
All offseason, Campbell and his staff have been stressing ball security on offense and forcing turnovers on defense. The loss to the Panthers is a prime example why. Against UNI, Iowa State lost the turnover battle, 4-1. Three of those giveaways cost the Cyclones a chance to win the game.
Iowa State was up 20-19 and had the ball on its own 20-yard line just past the midway point of the fourth quarter. The first two plays of that drive were conservative play calls (both runs). The third play was an unwise deep pass by quarterback Joel Lanning straight to a Panther defender. UNI took over at the Iowa State 36 and used the short field to score a go-ahead touchdown, grabbing a 25-20 edge.
The Panthers left the Cyclones enough time–2:49–to go downfield and score a potential game-winning touchdown. However, Iowa State fumbled within two plays on that drive. That wasn’t the end of the game, however; the Cyclone defense forced a three-and-out, leaving 1:19 on the clock.
Although Iowa State still–once again–had enough time to put together a potential game-winning drive, the Cyclones produced the same result as the previous two drives, a turnover. Lanning was picked off for the second time; that ultimately sealed the Cyclones’ fate against the Panthers.
And the Iowa State meltdown is complete. Joel Lanning picked off again. Cyclones turn the ball over three times in the final 6:12 of game.
— Jake Trotter (@Jake_Trotter) September 4, 2016
Miscues cost Iowa State a win, a problem can be traced back to the 2015 season.
Last year, when ISU took on Kansas State, it had a win wrapped up and packaged, but four fumbles in the second half allowed the Wildcats to come back and win, 38-35. When Iowa State faced Oklahoma State, a costly interception destroyed the Cyclones’ chances at claiming an upset victory over the Cowboys.
This tale is all too familiar for ISU fans. They see their beloved team get into a spot to succeed, just to see it crumble in the end.
Bad news: ISU lost
Good news: the reason they lost was because of dumb mistakes, which are 100% correctible.
Real: they HAVE to clean up
— Jeff Woody (@jwoody32) September 4, 2016
As Campbell said, these loyal Cyclone fans don’t deserve to experience this sort of result season after season. If the head man wants to change this consistent outcome, the Cyclones need to take what they were being coached on this offseason–winning the turnover margin–and apply it to live-game action. If Iowa State can’t figure out a way to do so, 2016 will be another long year for Cyclone fans and the team.