AMES —Iowa State safety Jacques Washington remembers the raucous scene well.
His Cyclones stood 3-0, fresh off a bye week and energized by the second-largest crowd in Jack Trice Stadium history as a less-than-invincible Texas team came calling.
That was 362 days ago.
The Longhorns proceeded to storm to a 34-0 halftime lead, silencing cusp-of-the-top-25 talk in a 37-14 walk-over that precipitated a four-game losing skid.
“The atmosphere was live and they took us out of the game and it kind of ruined the whole thing,” Washington said. “So hopefully —well, we will keep the crowd in this game.”
The set-up to this game — Saturday’s 6 p.m. Big 12 home opener against Texas Tech — mirrors that one.
The Cyclones are 3-0 and on the verge of appearing in the Associated Press Top 25 for the first time in seven years.
ISU quarterback Steele Jantz prepares to make his first Big 12 start of the season and tickets are hard to come by.
Cue the buzz, not the butterflies.
“A lot of players on our football team have been down this road,” said Cyclone coach Paul Rhoads, whose team seeks a third consecutive win over Texas Tech (3-0). “A lot of players that contributed to that loss and four-game losing streak. I’ve remarked about our maturity and our experience and I think it showed (in Sunday’s meetings). We went out on the practice field — ‘Hey, we can either go and repeat history or we can change it and write it ourselves.’”
The backdrop is one thing they don’t want to alter.
Another crowd of 55,000-plus is expected.
Jack Trice Stadium has become a venue opposing players regard as impressive, week in and week out.
“It’s kind of like ours,” said Tech quarterback Seth Doege, who owns a 12-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio this season. “It’s not, like, a huge stadium, but they are very loud and they get very excited for football games. … It’s a cool environment to play in. Definitely a Big 12 environment.”
Oddsmakers have installed the Red Raiders as 2.5-point favorites.
The consensus over-under on points is a shade under 60.
Don’t tell that to two of the most statistically stingy defense in the country, though.
Texas Tech’s allowing 10 points a game, which ranks sixth nationally.
“We feel like this will be the game where we really make a statement,” Tech safety D.J. Johnson said.
ISU’s yielded an average of 10.7 points over three wins, which is better than all but eight FBS teams.
The Cyclone defense hasn’t allowed an opposing team to score a touchdown in 31 straight series.
“Pride in the defense,” ISU defensive coordinator Wally Burnham said. “They talk about those kind of things. … It makes them realize that, ‘Hey, let’s go out and stop this team. Let’s don’t let them score.’ It kind of snowballs.”
Something’s got to give Saturday.
The Cyclones could improve to 4-0 for the first time since 2000.
As for finally cracking those rankings again …
“I think that’s all a side show,” Washington said. “But we want this first Big 12 victory. That’s more important.”
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