Farniok seeks bragging rights five years in the making

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AMES — The countdown began five years ago.

 That’s when good friends Tom Farniok and Trevor Gebhart capped their Sioux Falls Washington High School football careers with an undefeated season and a runaway state championship.

 “Our closest game was 17 points,” Farniok, ISU’s standout center, said.

 Gebhart went north to become a contributing wide receiver at FCS juggernaut North Dakota State.

 Farniok headed south, to eventually become a senior captain for the Big 12 upstart Cyclones.

 Now they’ll meet at 11 a.m. Saturday at Jack Trice Stadium.

 The countdown’s over and the battle for bragging rights begins.

 “We’ve joked the past five years about this because it’s both of our senior years,” sad Farniok, a preseason all-Big 12 selection. “It’s kind of cool that we get to play each other in our last season of college football.”

 Kind of?

 “The winner will get to talk smack for a long, long time,” Gebhart told the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier.

 Farniok’s convinced he’ll be the one launching into lifelong boasting mode, but acknowledges the talent and precision the three-time defending FCS champion Bison showcase on a weekly basis each fall.

  “It’s known by anyone that’s played them or watches their film,” Farniok said. “It’s evident. They don’t make mistakes. They’re very well-executed. They do things right. It’s impressive. They don’t shoot themselves in the foot, ever, in a game, which is why the can win so many in a row.”

 If NDSU upsets the Cyclones it would run its win streak to an FCS-record 25 games.

 The Bison have also beaten four straight FBS opponents — and ISU is coming off a 28-20 loss to NDSU’s Missouri Valley Football Conference rival, Northern Iowa, in last season’s opener.

 “There’s a lot of things that can go wrong and that was kind of a shock to everyone’s system,” said Farniok, whose joined up front by six others with starting experience. “Stuff happens.”

 Even to him.

 Farniok entered the UNI game on a streak of his own.

 He’d started 27 consecutive games, but suffered a first-half knee injury against the Panthers and would not return.

 He missed just two games, but took awhile to be 100 percent again.

 “It feels like you’re letting everybody else around you down when you know you could make a difference in those games,” Farniok said on media day. “It stinks.”

 Nothing stinks about what’s coming Saturday, though.

 Unless Gebhart — and another former Washington teammate, defensive end Mike Hardie — help topple ISU and maintain their team’s remarkable streaks.

 “Whatever the point spread (is), they’re going to come in here thinking they should win,” Farniok said. “We’re coming in here thinking we should win. But there can only be one.”


Rob Gray


Rob, an Ames native, joined Cyclone Fanatic in August, 2014 after nearly a decade and a half of working at Iowa's two largest newspapers. He spent 10 years at the Des Moines Register and, after a brief stint in public relations, joined the Cedar Rapids Gazette as an Iowa State correspondent three years ago. Rob specializes in feature stories for CF.

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