AMES — With Jack Trice Stadium half-empty Saturday night and long streams of red taillights in stadium parking lots, Iowa State showed all sorts of gumption.
But while the Cyclones’ late-game, two-touchdown rally was fun and admirable, they’ll still wake up Sunday morning with a pounding in their heads.
Iowa held on for a 27-21 win. ISU ran out of time, and ran out of room on its lateral-fest of a last play. The Hawkeyes, meanwhile, ran to earn its Cy-Hawk Trophy prize, which it got by rushing to the Iowa State sideline.
Iowa’s offensive line pounded, and running back Mark Weisman pounded. Ever since their loss to Northern Iowa two weeks earlier, the word on the 2013 Cyclones was that they aren’t designed to win physical contests. The word was correct.
“We put the defense on the field a long time (38 minutes),” said ISU running back Jeff Woody. “You can’t expect the defense to hold up that long.”
But whenever Iowa accepted the notion that rushing, rushing, and more rushing was the offensive ticket, the work got done.
Weisman ran 35 times for 145 yards. You keep hearing that he’s a monster in Iowa’s weight room. He plays like his body is 98 percent muscle.
“Our offensive line, tight ends, fullbacks, they’re getting me up to the second level,” Weisman said. “I’ve got to break some of those tackles.”
Being critical of himself probably tells you as much about Weisman as the way he bulled through and over Cyclones all night.
Who knows how many more 30-carry games he has in him? Two in a row is a lot. But the buffalo from Buffalo Grove, Ill., again looked he had less wear and tear afterward than the ISU defenders who felt his pads-down, feet-churning determination.
“I’m feeling great right now,” Weisman said. “I’ll see how I feel tomorrow.”
Some time ago, Weisman chose to play on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year for Jews. He discussed it with his family, and they lef the choice to him with their support.
“I can’t say enough about him, just him being here,” Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said. “I didn’t bring it up with him. That decision was him and his family. Boy, I’m glad he decided to come tonight.
“He works hard every day and sets a great example, and he backs it up out there on the field. I’m just so happy he’s on our football team. I’m really happy we tried him at running back about a year ago.”
In this zone-read world, some things about football don’t change. Superior physicality almost always prevails. And, you can’t be good without a good quarterback. The feeling about Iowa QB Jake Rudock only got better Saturday. He made plays.
“He puts the ball where he has to, knowing he’s going to get hit,” said Ferentz. “That’s a good sign.”
Ferentz admitted wondering how Rudock would handle his first road start. “He seems pretty unfazed by things,” the coach said. “When something bad does happen, he just comes back and keeps playing.”
Health-wise, the scale was tilted against the Cyclones. They had to go to their third-string center, Ben Loth, in the first half. Quarterback Sam Richardson, formidable when he can run, hadn’t recovered all the way from a sprained ankle.
“He was very immobile,” ISU Coach Paul Rhoads said. “There were running plays to be had with the quarterback involved.
“There’s no question we’re a better football team this game than two weeks ago, and we’ve got to make sure we’re a better football team 12 days from now (at Tulsa).”
Ferentz spoke of needed improvement, too, but sounded happier after a game than he has since, well, last Oct. 13 at Michigan State.
“Obviously, we need to learn to close, to finish the deal a little bit better,” Ferentz said. “We’ll turn to that tomorrow. Tonight’s about how the players competed.”
It’s a win. Over an FBS team. Over Iowa State. On the road.
There was no meltdown this game for the Hawkeyes, just a warm glow.