Iowa State struggled, but cut the Cyclones some slack
Iowa State football’s high expectations nearly went splat in the season opener, when the Cyclones survived Division I-AA Northern Iowa 29-26 in triple-overtime. It was not a good sign that the perennial second-division Cyclones, ranked 21st in the preseason, can handle the spotlight.
But cut Iowa State some slack. Its rivalry with Northern Iowa is not typical of a Power 5/Division I-AA series. The Panthers are consistent winners in the lower classification, have remark stability in Mark Fairley (19th year as UNI head coach) and annually play Iowa or Iowa State, usually to very good games and occasionally pulling the upset.
“That’s what makes our state unique,” said Cyclone coach Matt Campbell. “You know each other well, you know how each other works. You see the history of their success … you’re going to get the best of an opponent like that. It was great for us; they had our attention going into the game.
“Honestly, for us, there was a lot more positive than negative. Our kids played really hard, they were physical and aggressive. The thing for us, the learning experience for us, is what we know living here at Iowa State, we have to win in the margins, do the little things well. There were times we did, there were times we didn’t.”