The Night the Tide Turned

Check out the SportsCenter highlights of this remarkable game.

http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=espn:7253475

Oh what a night!  A night I have dreamed about ever since seeing my first Iowa State game.  Before I get more into that, I would like to share some facts with you that gives some more perspective on how monumentous this victory really was:

  • Iowa State’s first vistory over a team in the top 6 of the AP poll (1-56-2).
  • Iowa State is bowl-eligible for the second time in three seasons.
  • ISU trailed 24-7 in the 3rd quarter, and outscored Oklahoma State 30-7 over the final 27:33 of regulation and the overtime sessions.
  • ISU has beaten two ranked opponents in the same season for the first time since 2005.
  • ISU is 27-14 all-time at night in Jack Trice Stadium.
  • Friday marked ISU’s first ome Friday game since Nov. 11, 1927 (13-6 loss to Missouri).
  • ISU is 23-9 all-time on Friday nights.
  • ISU is now 3-7 all-time in overtime games (2-0 this season).
  • Under Paul Rhoads, ISU is 2-13 when trailing after three quarters and 2-1 in overtime play.
  • The Cyclones are 10-2 in the Rhoads era with a positive turnover margin.
  • ISU’s 33 first downs are its most since Oct. 25, 2008 (34 vs. Texas A&M).
  • ISU’s 101 offensive plays are the second-most in school history (102 at Nebraska, 2007).
  • ISU’s 60 pass attemps are the second-most in history (62 at Texas, 1998).
  • ISU’s 568 yards of total offense are its most since Nov. 22, 2008 (626 at Kansas State).

When you look at these stats, it is easy to see what a remarkable game this was, but to the players, coaches, and fans, this win goes much deeper than any stat sheet could ever reveal.  This is a game that most people have been waiting their entire lifetime for.

As I stood next to my seat in the south endzone watching this game, I was filled with a sense that maybe, just maybe this might just be the night that the rug is not pulled out from under our feet.  That maybe on this cold Nov. night, it was finally our night in the sun.  I sat and watched our team make big play after big play.  Did we make mistakes, yes, but for some reason, those mistakes never buried us.  We just kept fighting.  We let them get a good-sized lead, but we kept fighting.  We kept scoring and creeping closer and closer.  Then we tied it.  Then we had a turnover in their territory and it was like the air was being let out of me.  It made me so mad because I knew that we were so close.  It would be so hard to lose like this.  But no, they missed the FG.  Is this possible?  The visitor always makes the FG in this situation.

Now on to overtime.  In the past we have been terrible in OT, but we already won one this year.  Who knows?  Anything can happen.  We get the ball first.  We score on a 25 yard wheel route on the first play.  Wow, that was suprisingly easy.  What a great call, what a great fake, what great execution.

OK defense, find a way to stop them and we will have the greatest win in school history.  Two plays and a touchdown pass?  Really?  We made that look way too easy.  Not good.

Now they get the ball first.  Why are they passing the ball.  They really should be trying to run it against us since we tend to have trouble stopping the run at times.  A tip.  A interception by Benton.  Are you kidding me?  Is this really happening?  All we have to do is score.  Holy cow!  Man, our FG kicking has been very questionable.  I hope it doesn’t come down to a FG to win it.

Here comes the offense.  Let’s get it to the middle of the field and make the FG as easy as possible.  A run to Woody.  Holy crap, look at the size of that hole, look at that great gain.  Did OSU give up or is the line just blocking the crap out of them?  Run it again with Woody and he lands in the end zone.  The cannon fires.  Oh my!  We just won.  I can’t believe it.  Finally!

I find myself moving down the south stands towards the field.  The fans are rushing the field and there is no way I am missing this.  I worked my way down to the edge of the field.  As soon as I steped onto that familiar grass, the grass that was my home for so many years, I found myself running.  Running out on that field, in that stadium, hearing that familiar noise of the crowd brought it all back in my mind.

I thought back to the beginning of my time at Iowa State.  Driving to Ames from the safe confines of Hudson to start my new adventure.  My 81 Gran Marquis was filled with my stuff.  There was only room for me in the driver seat.  I cried most of the way there.  I was excited, but it was fear of the unknown that overwhelmed me that day.  I did not want to leave home.  Home was safe.  I loved the people of Hudson and they loved me.  Now I was going to a place where hardly anyone knew me.

I thought back to that first 2 a days.  It was so hot in that August of 1995.  The freshman came in 3 days before the veterans and they ran us and ran us.  It was like boot camp.  It was so overwhelmingly hard.  Harder than anything I had ever done before.  The other players were so good and I was not used to being dominated on the field.  That was so hard.  When I found out I was red shirting it was very hard for me.  I knew in my heart that this was the best thing for me, but to just stand and watch instead of being involved in everything was so hard.

I remembered back to that first game in Cyclone Stadium (that is what it was called back then).  We still had the astroturf field.  I was on the travel team and I remember coming in on the buses.  Dan McCarney wanted to establish something he called the “Cyclone Walk”.  The idea was to have the Cyclone fans greet us when we came off the bus and walked into the stadium.  I remember about 25 people there to greet us.  A few select parents and a group of McCarney’s friends from Iowa City who were there because of him.  I remember running out on that field in that stadium for the first time.  The crowd was loud and full of hope, but the stadium was no where near full.  We were playing Ohio University that night and we won the game.  Troy Davis had a big night rushing the ball.  It was his first start as a Cyclone.  I thought that was so cool.

I remember later in that 95 season when the difficulty of being a college football player overwhelmed me and I really wanted to just quit.  My mom convinced me that I needed to stick it out.  I am so thankful to her for that.  I became determined that I would not let it get the best of me and I didn’t

I remember that first spring game in the spring of 1996.  I had a good spring and was the backup DT to Rudy Ruffalo, a senior from Wisconsin.  I had a great game.  I graded out the highest of all the DL.  In fact I graded out so high, I found out that I would be the starting DT as a red shirt freshman the following season.

I thought back to the 96 season.  It was a very tough season.  I remember starting my very first game in our opener of the 1996 season vs. Wyoming.  It was a Thursday night game and college football had put in overtime for the first time.  Sure enough, that game went into OT.  I played in the first OT game in the history of college football.  I remember thinking that was cool, even though we lost the game.  I remember having a very tough season.  I played hard, but I was still very small (6’6″ tall and about 255 lbs.) and found myself getting dominated regularly by the better teams.  It was the inagural season for the Big 12 Conference and we were overmatched in almost every game.  We only won 2 games that season, but we fought so hard. 

I remember back to the night I found out I was moving to the offensive line.  I did not want that at all.  I had worked so hard to become a defensive starter, it seemed like such a waste.  Coach McCarney thought it would be in both the team’s and my best interests, but I did not believe him.  As it turns out, he was right.

I remember back to the 97 season.  That was such a tough season for me.  I was the backup RG and I tried so hard to win the starting spot, but redshirt freshman Ben Beaudet beat me out.  Ben was a great player, but I had been in the program a year longer and felt I should start.  I guess I understand what Rudy felt like the year prior.  It was difficult because the only time I was seeing the field was on extra point/FG team.  If we didn’t score much, I rarely saw the field.  That was really hard considering I had started the season prior.  The season was very tough record-wise.  We did not have very big crowds.  No one really thought we could win.  We did, but it just was not happening.  We had a core group of about 30,000 fans that were there every game, but not much more.  Those fans stood by us through the good times and the bad and I will always remember that and be thankful for that.  We only won one game that season and it was vs. Baylor at home.  I remember the fans rushing the field and trying to tear down the goalposts.  Unfortunately, Gene Smith had uprights installed that could not be brought down.  The fans tried hard, but they could not bring them down.  Our season was awful, but on this one day, we were on top of the world.

I continued to run into the giant mass of people rushing the field on this cold Friday night.  It was crazy in its purest form.  All the fans were trying to get to the players in the middle of the field.  I found myself migrating over towards the ISU sideline.  I saw coach Burnham standing on the sidelines.  I ran up and we embraced in a giant hug.  I told him congrats and how proud I was of him.  I thought back to church at E-Free and seeing him there on several of the Sundays over the past year.  What a great man.  He understood that God was the most improtant thing.  I thought back to his time here and how far our defense has come.

I then remembered back to the 1998 season.  I was named the starting LT that season and I remember how fulfilling that was.  To be playing regularly again.  I immediately thought back to that glorious day in Kinnick Stadium when we pulled that amazing upset of Iowa 27-9 to break their 15 year winning streak over ISU.  I remember that we were 28 point underdogs, just like on this night against OSU.  I remember how meaningful that was for everyone involved in that day.  The coaches, the players, having that monkey off our back was huge.  On that day we were no longer the little step-brother.  We stepped up and not only beat them, but dominated them.  I remember arriving back in Ames and a huge crowd of thousands of ISU fans were waiting for us.  It was the most amazing day.  The fans were so proud of us and everyone was getting excited about ISU football again.

As I moved away from the sidelines a player who did not play in the game grabbed me and hugged me.  I realized that I had no idea who he was.  It made me think back to all the players I had known through the years.  Great people.  Cyclones who worked hard everyday in practice, but never got to see the field on gameday.  They were so important to our success, but no one really knew about them.  They cared as much about the success of ISU as the starters, but they never got the glory.  This one is for them.

I thought back to that last game of the 1998 season against Kansas at home.  We had not gotten the success we wanted, but we fought so hard and found a way to win.  We refused to give up.  One last season.  One last chance to go to a bowl game.

I then thought back to the 1999 season.  My senior season.  I remember beating Iowa at home 17-10.  Two years in a row.  Amazing!  The crowd stormed the field again.  What an amazing feeling!  15 years with no win and now we have 2 wins in a row.  I remember back to that road win at Missouri.  It was our first Big 12 road game win and it was huge.  We were so happy.  Another big monkey off our back.  I remember going into Memorial Stadium that last time in Nebraska.  I remember their fans lined up outside our locker room.  I remember the fan who spit on me as I walked by heading out onto the field.  I have always had a strong distaste in my stomach for Nebraska fans because of that.  I remember playing my best game as a Cyclone, but as a team, we fell well short that night.  I remember crying in the locker room afterwards and walking out towards the bus.  I just wanted to be alone.  The next thing I remember is being on a stage filled with microphones and lots of lights and having to answer questions to the press.

I will always remember that last game.  In Lawrence, Kansas against the Jayhawks.  It was a very hard day full of emotion.  We fought so hard, but came up short that afternoon and that was it.  My career was over.  I would never put on the Cyclone uniform again as a player.  It was a long walk off that field.  We had improved so much, but we never reached our goal of going to a bowl game.  When I reached the locker room, I went to the shower and cried and cried for what seemed like forever.

I worked my way around the edge of the crowd.  “Sweet Caroline” was playing over the loudspeaker and everyone was singing.  It was an amazing moment.  I do not recall ever seeing that many people on the field at one time before.  I worked my way over to the “Honor Before victory” post and then saw Coach Rhoads.  I gave him a big hug and told him congrats.  He smilled and said “Thanks, love you Billy!”  I thought back to my five years as a player at ISU.  Coach Rhoads was an assistant here during those 5 years.  He was the DB coach.  My whole life, I was always Bill.  Coach Mac called me Billy and it stuck.  Everyone form those teams called me Billy and that was it.  Hearing him say that made me break down.

My eyes filled with tears.  Tears of joy.  Tears of happiness.  Subdued tears of disappointment.  All those times we came up short of achieving the greatness we all wanted.

I started moving my way up the ramp on the east side of the Jacobson building and my mind raced back to my years since then.  My years as a Cyclone football fan, no longer the player.  I remember that great bowl win that came in the Insight Bowl the following season.  I remember the string of 5 straight wins over Iowa that I helped start.  Among those wins, i remember staning in the stands in that great comeback win in 2002.  I remember that disappointing loss against Alabama in the Independence Bowl in 2001.  I remember that heartbreaking loss to Missouri in 2004 when we could have won the Big 12 North with a win.  I remember that huge Independence Bowl win over Miami of Ohio in 2004.  I remember that huge win over #8 ranked Iowa in 2005.  I remember that heartbreaking loss to TCU in the 2005 Houston Bowl.  I then remember the night when I found out Coach mac was leaving following the 2006 season.  It broke my heart.  It was the saddest and maddest I had ever been at the same time.  I remember his last game and that upset of Missouri at home.  In my whole life, I have never experienced such a day filled with such strong emotion.  I remember that big win over Iowa in 2007 with new coach Gene Chizik in the throwback uniforms.  I remember being at the press conference the day Coach Rhoads took the job at ISU.  I remember that unbeliable day in Lincoln in 2009 when we beat Nebraska.  I remember that Insight Bowl win over Minnesota in 2009.  I remember the huge win over Texas in Austin in 2010.  I remember that historic 3 overtime win vs. Iowa earlier this season.  I remember the huge road win at Lubbock only a couple of weeks ago.  And now tonight.  The greatest memory of all.

I stood outside the locker room and congratulated the players as they walked off the field.  I felt such a part of it, but at the same time, I knew that this was their moment, not mine.  But in a way, it was still my moment.  I have been there.  I understand what they are feeling.  I understand the ups and downs.  I know how hard it can be.  Once a Cyclone, always a Cyclone!

As the players went into the locker room to have their huge celebration I walked quietly out of the stadium by myself.  It was a time of continued reflection for me.  Tears were still flowing steadily down my cheeks and I found I could not stop.  I was too emotionally invested in Iowa State and the footabll tradition to have it any other way.

The enormity of the win was finally starting to sink in.  This was the high crest.  The best moment.  The greatest moment in the history of this program.  Hopefully, 10 years from now we will be regularly winning games like this and a win like this will not be nearly as big of a deal.  We can look back on the night of 11/18/11 as the night the tide finally turned.  When we finally refused to take a back seat to anyone in the country.  Maybe it won’t be that way.  If not, at least we had this night.  A night when everyone across the country was focussed on this team in Ames, IA.  They all cheered for us because no one thought we could.  I smiled a little to myself knowing that there were a few people who thought it was possible.  Even now, 12 years removed from being a Cyclone football player, the fire still runs through my veins.  I still have trouble sleeping the night before a football game.  I know what it means to be a Cyclone.  Me and everyone who ever strapped on the ISU helmet is a part of this family.  Their success is our success and their failure is our failure.  It never leaves your soul.  I am so proud of this team and everything they have accomplished.  On this night and every day I have left on this earth, I am a Cyclone.  And you know what?  Being a Cyclone is a pretty cool thing!  Especially on this particular Friday night.

As a parting thought on this blog, I would like to share with you what I feel are some of the biggest wins ISU has had since my time as a Cyclone started.  I did not feel qualified to give an opinion on the games that occurred before my playing and Cyclone fan days.  They are in chronoligical order, not in order of importance.  I leave that order up to you.

  • 8/31/95   vs. Ohio University   W 36-21
  • 9/28/96   vs. Missouri   W 45-31
  • 12/25/97   vs. Baylor   W 24-17
  • 9/12/98   @ Iowa   W 27-9
  • 11/21/98   vs. Kansas   W 23-20
  • 9/11/99   vs. Iowa   W 17-10
  • 10/16/99   @ Missouri   W 24-21
  • 9/16/00   @ Iowa   W 24-14
  • 10/14/00   @ Oklahoma St.   W 33-26
  • 11/11/00   @ Colorado   W 35-27
  • 12/28/00   Insight.com Bowl vs. Pittsburgh   W 37-29
  • 11/24/01   vs. Iowa   W 17-14
  • 9/14/02   @ Iowa   W 36-31
  • 9/28/02   vs. Nebraska   W 36-14
  • 11/6/04   vs. Nebraska   W 34-27
  • 11/20/04   @ Kansas State   W 37-27
  • 12/28/04   Independence Bowl vs. Miami (Ohio)   W 17-13
  • 9/10/05   vs. Iowa   W 23-3
  • 10/29/05   @ Texas A&M   W 42-14
  • 11/12/05   vs. Colorado   W 30-16
  • 11/18/06   vs. Missouri   W 21-16
  • 9/15/07   vs. Iowa   W 15-13
  • 10/24/09   @ Nebraska   W 9-7
  • 12/31/09   Insight Bowl vs. Minnesota  W 14-13
  • 10/2/10   vs. Texas Tech   W 52-38
  • 10/23/10   @ Texas   W 28-21
  • 9/10/11  vs. Iowa   W 44-41 (3 OT)
  • 10/29/11   @ Texas Tech   W 41-7
  • 11/18/11  vs. Oklahoma State   W 37-31 (2 OT)
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About wmarsau

Most of the people who visit this blog already know me so it is kind of pointless to try to describe my life in this short little blurb. What is the purpose of this blog is the question. Over the course of this last year I have been exposed to some amazing people and have made personal development an important focus of my life. Being successful, not by the world's standards, but by God's has become my main focus. Mainly, I want to work to develop myself as a person who is kinder, reaches out to help those in need, and truly makes a difference in this world. To this end I am constantly reading and am exposed to so many differnet things along the way. These have been amazing and it is helping me grow so much. Then I started to think, "Why am I being so selfish?" You need to share with others these amazing things you are learning and being exposed to. That is where this blog comes into play. As I am reading and experiencing things that are truly amazing and life changing, I will be posting them on this blog. Obviously, I will not be able to post everything in it's entirity, but I will be summarizing them and letting you know the source of the article or book they come from so you can check them out later if you wish. I want this blog to be a place where you can go to often and be inspired and leave here with a smile on your face. I will be covering all kinds of different topics dealing with success and personal development. Topics like taking action, relationships, living to your potential, reinventing yourself, finances, leadership, presenting, goal setting, time management, etc. I will also be occasionally including topics on cooking, music, and gardening because they are special interests of mine. As a little disclaimer, I have given my life to the Lord and he is #1 in my life. I am his servant and everything I do in life is for his glory. With that being said, religion influences all areas of my life. There will be references to God in this blog because I can't seperate God from this or any other area of my life. I want you to know that if you do not believe in God, that is fine. That is your choice. This blog is open to anyone who wants to better their life. I will not be trying to influence or pressure anyone into having a relationship with the Lord from this site. Please don't feel uncomfortable. You can just read the portions of the blog that you wish to. I am inviting you to go on a journey with me. We will learn together to be the kind of people we were designed to be. Anyone can make a difference in this world, but it starts%
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3 Responses to The Night the Tide Turned

  1. Jill E. Ford says:

    Bill… I am soooo proud of you!!! Your ability to be a leader in High School Football and then the struggles and the leadership you showed through the years @ Iowa State Football. Every year you improved with leaps and bounds. You had the knowledge that your Head Coach Mac and your Family believed in your abilities as a player. Now applying all of that competitiveness and skill in every day life will take you far. I am very proud of what you have done @ E-Free with the Upward program. In giving back your knowledge of Football, but also your kindness in helping young football & Basketball players with their learning of the sports world. Love, mom

  2. Bill Stewart says:

    Thanks for a great recapture of a fantastic game. I started working in the score booth in 1976, enjoyed this one the most of all.

    I remember your play and offer my congratutions on your career and obviously your support for the Cyclones.
    Bill Stewart Scorer 4 Cy

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