This was the first cold game on the tour. The only other college games that were below 75 degrees were the Notre Dame and Wisconsin games, both at about 50 degrees. The temperature in Iowa dropped from just below 70 degrees on Thursday to 25 degrees when Paul and Jason left Aplington for Ames Friday morning. So, we bundled up and headed for the game.Stadium
- Jack Trice Stadium is the second-newest stadium in the Big 12. The only one newer is at West Virginia, which ironically had its design based on Jack Trice Stadium. The stadium is a double-decker grandstand on both sides with bleachers in the south end zone. The north end zone houses the Jacobson Athletic Building and is where the band sits. The seats are a bit too far from the field to make it extremely loud on the field. Parking is a breeze here, since there are parking lots all around the stadium. This is the only stadium on the tour that serves walking tacos. One cool feature of the stadium is that there is hill seating between the grandstands and the end zone structures. These tickets are only $10, and it's a little bit like going to an amphitheater to watch a concert. Just bring a blanket and sit on the grass. The stadium has a listed capacity of 55,000. Overall, this is a nice place to watch a game. Rating - 7 of 10.
As an interesting side note, the stadium's namesake, Jack Trice, was the first African American athlete at Iowa State. He died on the train ride home of injuries he sustained in a game at Minnesota in 1923. The stadium was originally called Cyclone Stadium, but it was changed after persistent requests by the students. It is the only Division 1-A stadium to be named after an African American individual.
- Like I said earlier, it was cold. It was windy, and it was cold. But that didn't mean that there was no tailgating. Although it is walkable from campus, Jack Trice Stadium isn't surrounded by buildings like many college stadiums. It's surrounded by parking lots, and this scenario generally makes for good tailgating. The cold did keep many people at home until just before game time, but there were still plenty of people braving the cold and cooking up some burgers, brats, brisket, and even some post-Thanksgiving turducken. For those of you that don't know, a turducken is a chicken stuffed inside a duck stuffed inside a turkey with some sausage stuffing for good measure. We had some turducken and some of the tastiest brisket of the whole tour (including Texas) at a tailgate with some of Paul's friends from college. On the way there, we encountered several buses and trailers that would rival anything I've seen, including at LSU. We also were offered some ice cold beer by two different groups; by one couple who had lowered their quick-shade tent to nearly a crawl space to keep it from blowing away, and by some folks with Pennsylvania connections that had a case of Yeungling with them.
There were a few factors working against the Iowa State tailgating that day. The aforementioned cold and wind certainly put a damper on the festivities. So did the fact that most of the students were out of town for Thanksgiving. That being said, there was still plenty of cooking, games, beer drinking, and over-the-top vehicles to make this a great time. I think the rating would have been higher on a warmer weekend with the students in town. Rating - 7 of 10.The Game
- Although both teams were sitting toward the bottom of the Big 12 standings, this game promised to be a good one. 6-5 Iowa State was hosting a 5-5 West Virginia squad that dropped 70 points on Baylor and had been ranked within the top 5 earlier in the year. The game started out fairly slowly, with the first touchdown being scored by West Virginia with just over 10 minutes left in the second quarter to put the Mountaineers ahead 10-0. It was looking bleak for the Cyclones before a touchdown with just 18 seconds left in the first half put them within striking distance at 17-14. The two teams traded punches until a field goal put Iowa State ahead 24-23 with just under seven minutes left in the game. West Virginia answered very quickly with a 75-yard touchdown and a two-point conversion to go ahead 31-24 with just over six minutes left. Iowa State managed an impressive drive deep into West Virginia territory before a fumble into the end zone, the first turnover of the game for either team, ended the Cyclones' chance to tie the game. West Virginia was able to run out the clock for the victory. Overall, this was a very entertaining football game. Both teams played well, and there was plenty of drama down to the end of the game. Rating - 9 of 10.The Band
- OK. This one is a bit personal, since I played in the Iowa State University Cyclone Marching Band in the early 90's. Here's an interesting side note. The band is known as the ISUCF"V"MB, which stands for Iowa State University Cyclone Football "Varsity" Marching Band. The story is that when Earl Bruce was the football coach in the late 70's, he was surprised to see a few band members changing in the football locker room. He told them that they had to get out because it was the varsity locker room. When one bold soul replied, "Well, we're the varsity marching band," the coach turned around and left them alone without another word.
But, we're not here to talk about the late 70's. We're here to discuss the band's performance in the West Virginia game. Pregame was very similar to when I played there 20 years ago. The band came out doing a very quick step that enables them to make fast-spinning Cyclones on the field. After making the ISU formation and playing the fight song, they marched off the field with a swinging march to the drumline playing "Sticks and Swing." The halftime show was basically a "best of" show from previous halftime performances. This was a bit disappointing considering that there hadn't been a home game in three weeks, but at least it was well rehearsed.
Once they started playing, the ISUCF"V"MB had one of the best sounds of all the bands on the tour. They were loud, they were clean, and they played well while marching. The drumline was very tight, as expected, since the current band director was a leader in the drumline during my day. There was a bit of goofy dancing. One of the songs was "Gangnam Style" by South Korean rapper Psy. You may have heard of it as the Horse Riding Dance, so of course, the band did the dance. The formations weren't overly complex, but they did do some line drills, which can be tricky. Another item of note was that they ran out to their spots to start the show rather than marching, and between songs they walked to the next formation. This may be due to the nature of a "best of" show, but it I had heard that this was what they had been doing all year. Since this was the last game, the seniors went to the middle of the field in an "ISU" formation and waved to the crowd while their names were announced. As per tradition, they left their shoes on the field after their final halftime show. Rating - 7 of 10. Fans
- We made it a point to talk to the few West Virginia fans we encountered and asked them how they were being treated. They all had nothing but great things to say, which as an Iowa State fan was good to hear. As for the fans in the stands, they were very into the game, which is much different than when I went to school there and the team wasn't very good. The stadium was nearly full even though it was cold. Most of the empty seats were in the student section,
which was understandable since they were on break. Our section stood and cheered the whole game. There was a little negativity, but most of it was something like "Come on O-line!" or "Catch it with your hands!" after a bad play. Not exactly encouraging, but I've certainly heard worse this year. The fans cheered very loudly when West Virginia had the ball in critical situations, but when Iowa State had the ball inside the 10 yard line and were looking to tie the game at the end of the 4th quarter, the offensive players actually had to quiet down the crowd. The unfortunate thing is that the player who was asking the crowd to quiet down is the same player that fumbled into the end zone. Perhaps it had an impact, or perhaps not. It seems Iowa State fans aren't accustomed to being in that situation and forgot that they are supposed to be quiet when their team has the ball. Rating - 8 of 10. Best Player
- This was a well-played game by both sides, so there are many players with good performances. Iowa State freshman quarterback Sam Richardson threw for 162 yards and 3 touchdowns while adding 119 yards rushing. West Virginia running back Shawne Alston kept extending drives with his power running and totaled 130 yards with a touchdown. Iowa State linebacker A.J. Klein was all over the field and totaled 14 tackles on the day. But the best player belongs to West Virginia wide receiver Tavon Austin
. Austin racked up 99 yards receiving and 74 yards rushing. He scored the go-ahead 75-yard touchdown on a touch pass from Gino Smith, which is basically a forward pitch, and he would have had another long touchdown on a punt return if not for a holding penalty that really didn't affect his run at all. He was clearly the best athlete on the field, and he had the most impact in this game.Overall
- This was a good homecoming for Jason. It was a fantastic game, and the tailgating was great! It is a lot different experience as a fan supporting a decent team and tailgating before the game than as a marching band member supporting a bad team and practicing before the game. If only it had been about 20 degrees warmer. Rating - 8 of 10.
This weekend was supposed to be a double-header; Nebraska at Iowa on Friday and West Virginia at Iowa State on Saturday. But, the masters of the almighty TV dollar decided to move the Iowa State game to Friday, so we were forced to pick between the two. Jason briefly thought about trying to do both, but since they were back to back and Iowa City and Ames are 2 hours apart, it would have meant either a halftime departure from the Iowa game or a halftime arrival at the Iowa State game. There were a few factors pointing to the Iowa State game over the Iowa game; Jason is an Iowa State alumni, it promised to be a better game, and Jason's cousin Paul, also an Iowa State grad, wanted to go to the game, too. The big kicker, though, turned out to be the game time. A 2:30pm start in Ames an hour and 15 minutes away from Jason's parents' house in Aplington was more appealing than an 11:00am start 2 hours away. Remember, this was the day after Thanksgiving.