Saturday, September 1, 2012
Cyclones gut out another home win
By David Ubben
The last time Iowa State played on its home field, it erased a 17-point lead against the nation's No. 2 team for the biggest win in school history.
Saturday's 38-23 victory over Tulsa wasn't quite as dramatic, but the Cyclones yet again showed guts, despite an early deficit.
Trailing 16-7 in the second quarter, the Cyclones offense was sputtering and Nebraska transfer Cody Green was completing passes with ease.
He hit Bryan Burnham for a 21-yard gain to midfield, but Cyclones linebacker Jake Knott blindsided Burnham, jarring the ball loose and turning the game in Iowa State's favor.
The Golden Hurricane scored just seven points the rest of the game, and the Cyclones fans went home happy -- all 54,931 of them, a school record for a season opener.
It wasn't pretty, and produced some nervous moments late with Green trying to rally Tulsa for a comeback of its own, but it's a win for Iowa State, and a much-needed one for a team that can't afford a nonconference loss if it wants to qualify for a third bowl in four years under Paul Rhoads.
The most welcome development: Steele Jantz's much-improved accuracy and decision-making. The Cyclones' passer was plagued by head-scratching throws into coverage and frustrating misfires that eventually led to a midseason benching last season.
He finished an impressive 32-of-45 for 281 yards with two touchdown passes and a rushing score, along with one interception off a tipped pass.
If he plays like he did on Saturday, the job will be his all season. Seeing Shontrelle Johnson back and looking like his old self is reason for celebration, too. His career was nearly over after suffering a neck injury against Texas last year. He's back, and rushed for 120 yards and a touchdown on just 18 carries.
His touchdown sealed the win after Deon Broomfield ended Tulsa's last rally with an interception. Broomfield returned it 51 yards to the Tulsa 5-yard line.
Tulsa's a good team, even if they're not on the level of what Iowa State will see in Big 12 play. Rhoads' teams have always been marked by their toughness and resiliency, and it was on display yet again in Week 1. The early struggles and late backslide will offer plenty of film-room fodder for the next week, but Iowa State can smile, knowing it's safely reached 1-0 in a game that it easily could have lost.