With how many games Iowa State will play this fall and how many people will be there to witness stilling hanging in the balance, we felt like this would be a good time to re-live some of our favorite memories from inside Jack Trice Stadium.
Members of our staff each submitted their favorite game and you can read those below. We want to hear about your favorite games, too. Interact with us and tell us your memories on the Cyclone Fanatic forums or on any of our social media channels.
A lot of great (and terrible) memories in that stadium, no doubt. Nothing compares to the 2011 Oklahoma State game though. Everything about it. The fact that it was on a Friday night. The crisp weather. I remember everything about that day. I woke up and drove to Panera Bread in Ankeny to work for a few hours. I remember our pregame show in front of the stadium, where Cyclone Jerry predictably called the big win. I remember kickoff. I remember cashing in my chips when the Cyclones got down by 17 points in the second half. I remember Jared Barnett’s smooth demeanor. I remember hugging Eric Heft and I remember Ben Bruns nearly popping my head off of the rest of my body when he arrived in the press box. It was the one time in my life when I felt like any words I provided to our audience could not properly capture the context of the story. It happens a lot with young journalists. It’s where we struggle the most. At my age, I couldn’t provide proper perspective for those thousands of seasoned Cyclone fans who had seen so much sorrow in that stadium. After Cyclone Reaction, I got home at around 1 a.m., watched the game again and wrote. And deleted. And wrote. And deleted some more. I think I went to bed at 10 a.m. and have never felt worse about a column. Paul Rhoads was on College GameDay. It felt like a real turning point for the program. In some ways it was. In others, it wasn’t. Still, the memory is magnificent.
There are three games that really stick out in my mind, but one of them has been highlighted below, so I’ll stick with the other two (and I’m doing two because I can’t pick a favorite between them).
The first one, Oct. 28, 2017. No. 25 Iowa State 14, No. 4 TCU 7.
It was the culmination of perhaps the most surprising (and exhilarating) month in the history of Iowa State football. The Cyclones had started it by upsetting Oklahoma in Norman, then followed it up with a win over Kansas in the pouring rain and on the road in Lubbock.
That Oklahoma game was amazing for how surprising it was. It was purely shocking. The two games that followed were business like victories. I’ll never forget the feeling going into that game against TCU. It was one I had never felt in my time covering the Cyclones.
Iowa State expected to beat a top-5 team — and they did.
It was the ultimate ending to a perfect month, and put Iowa State football squarely into the national conversation. Three moments specifically stand out for how amazing they were — Brian Peavy’s interception at the goal line, JaQuan Bailey’s strip sack and JD Waggoner’s recovery at the opposite goal line and Marcel Spears’ interception to seal the deal.
Seeing them now even three years later brings goosebumps. I think the press box is still shaking from each of them.
The other game — Nov. 24, 2018. The slaying of “The Vampire.”
It felt during the third quarter like it would end as just another disappointing defeat in a long string of them against Kansas State. The Wildcats held a 17-point lead and people had started to file out of the bitterly cold stands.
When Sam Seonbuchner scored his first career touchdown, it felt like there was a chance. But, a few plays later, when the ball fluttered into the arms of an unsuspecting Mike Rose and he took it to the end zone before anyone could realize what happened, Iowa State winning felt like an inevitability.
David Montgomery sealed the deal on that by scoring the game-winning touchdown. After 10 long years of frustration, the Cyclones had finally gotten the best of Bill Snyder in the last game of his career.
The two games I’ve attended that stand out are the 2011 triple-overtime victory against Iowa and the 2018 night game win against West Virginia.
The 2011 Cy-Hawk game was especially enjoyable for me because it was my freshman year at Iowa State and also the first Cy-Hawk game I’ve gone to in person. It felt like the Clones had a billion yards of offense that game even though in hindsight, they only ended up with 473. Of course, it felt like more at the time since we weren’t used to the efficient Matt Campbell offense that we’re privileged to have now. The legend of Steele Jantz grew exponentially that day and I still remember James White getting the corner to slide inside the pylon from my view in the sixth row of the student section. Getting to rush the field and sing Sweet Caroline was the cherry on top.
The ’18 West Virginia game was special in a different kind of way. You could make the case Iowa State has never flat-out dominated a ranked opponent like that – let alone a top-10 team like the No. 6 Mountaineers. Heisman hopeful Will Grier was running for his life all night and ISU outgained WVU 498-152. A complete and utter beatdown. Also, that game was the “birthday” of the phone lights + “Juicy Wiggle” combo, if I’m not mistaken. Never before have I had more fun from beginning to end watching an Iowa State sporting event and it was so fun seeing the whole thing play out while sitting with my wife and parents in the stands. Memories that will last forever.
Nothing tops Nov. 18, 2011.
Nothing ever will.
As a writer and reporter, the day and night pulsed with all the elements of a great story.
The controversy that surrounded playing a Friday night game on ESPN comes to mind. Some grumbled about competing with preps. ISU properly calculated it would provide the program and Jack Trice Stadium with a mammoth platform — and it was essentially a one-off. Now, few expected those plucky Cyclones (who finished 6-7) could even keep this game close against a stacked national championship contender in then-No. 2 Oklahoma State. And early in the third quarter, it seemed the objective best-case scenario had unfolded. ISU was down 24-7. The Cyclones had fought, but the Cowboys’ talent edge was simply too great.
Then, alchemy ensued.
James White breaks free for a 32-yard touchdown. Albert Gary makes a great catch on Jared Barnett’s low, but accurate, throw to tie the game and suddenly — after a great defensive stop — overtime loomed.
I was still a print journalist at the time. I quit The Des Moines Register the previous year so I could spend more time with my young kids and was serving as a correspondent for the Cedar Rapids Gazette. I knew what my deadline was. They stretched it, but I had to file a story without quotes, which is the bane of any creative writer.
I did so, nonetheless, of course. I shifted gears and used play-by-play from the overtimes to frame a lede. And when Jake Knott tipped Brandon Weeden’s pass in the second overtime and Ter’Ran Benton grabbed it, I knew I had something — even without quotes.
More importantly, I knew, the biggest upset and flat-out win in ISU history had gone from impossible to inevitable.
A few mauling Jeff Woody runs later, ISU fans flooded the field, he basked in the end zone, and the College Football Playoff became a certainty (though after the BCS clung to life for a few years).
I, of course, enjoyed writing about this in an oral history story earlier this summer, but I’ll never forget filing it and feeling it was my best no-quote story of an 11-year career. It still sucked without the descriptive words from the principal players, but it was a solid read.
I couldn’t believe what happened. Seeing the fans flood the field summoned warmth in my capillaries because I’d seen the Cyclones beaten by elite teams badly and often my entire life.
It was a game, program and sport changer. Afterward, I wrote a story full of quotes for the Gazette’s website and I’ll never forget how James White joked that someone had pilfered his gloves, or shoes, during the celebratory scrum. I like to think they’re hanging in someone’s man or woman cave. I know he hopes that’s the case, too.
It was beautiful and impossible and the stuff of dreams. I don’t think I went to sleep until 4 a.m.
My favorite JTS memory was moments before kickoff on September 22, 2018, when we all stood together in silence to remember and honor Celia Barquin Arozamena.
I’ve always believed Iowa State fans act uniquely like a giant family—sometimes we bicker and pick at each other, but we are fiercely loyal to and protective of our own—and there has never been a more potent and powerful example of that familial bond than in those few moments of silent solidarity.
It started as a cold November day, it ended as possibly the most unlikely victory in Iowa State football history. My brother and I went head to head in Rock-Paper-Scissors, the loser had to stay with our mom at the craft fair for the duration of the day. But the winner would be traveling to Ames to watch the Cyclone football team square off with the #7 Nebraska Cornhuskers. In some ways, you have to wonder if sitting in the cold for four hours to watch the 2-7 home team battle a top ten foe that was really a “reward”, even in comparison to a day at the local craft fair.
Nebraska had recently been dominating opponents and in the prior two weeks prior they beat #8 Colorado 52-7 and #13 Kansas 49-7. Tommie Frazier and friends were devastating the top-flight competition. On the flip side, Iowa State had just two wins and had already lost to UNI earlier that season. Further, on this day they would be relying on an unknown backup quarterback, Marv Seiler. Add in that it was one of those cold days where an 8-year old me wore snow pants even when there was no snow on the ground and maybe the craft fair doesn’t seem so bad after all.
The stark difference between the talent and direction of the two teams that day may only be surpassed by the difference between Cyclone Stadium in 1992 vs Jack Trice Stadium in 2020. There was no Jacobson Building to the north, and I don’t think the tent with the hot tub in the south endzone had been dreamt up just yet. The best thing you’d usually find in those days was a giant Cyclone helmet that was actually a car that would drive around the field.
I really only have a few memories from that day, most notably watching Marv Seiler scamper down the opposite sideline toward the north endzone, only to be pulled down just short. I remember the fans flooding the field after the time ran out and Iowa State held on to a 19-10 victory. I remember not getting to rush the field with the initial wave of thousands of fans but instead walking onto the field a few minutes later. I remember walking up the northwest ramp toward the Olsen Building as we congratulated players. I remember sitting in the car waiting for “traffic to clear”. I remember it as my favorite Iowa State football moment.
But I remember it most because I was there with my dad and it is one of my favorite memories of time with him before he passed.
There’s always something special about being able to storm the field when the Cyclones defeat a top opponent but there was something extremely special the night I was able to experience it on staff at Cyclone Fanatic.
It was during the infamous month of October in 2018 when Iowa State upset No. 6 WVU 30-14 in front of 56,629 fans. Not only was the game itself insanely entertaining as true freshman Brock Purdy had an amazing performance but the last few minutes of the game were so intense. It was pretty clear the Cyclones were going to win once that last-minute hit but you could just physically feel it in the air that the student section was boiling over.
The experience of being down there never feels any less exciting no matter how long I have been doing this but I will never forget how it felt to realize fans were going to storm the field I was currently standing on. My heart was racing as I tried to mentally prepare how I was going to make sure I didn’t get trampled while trying to shoot photos of the team’s celebration. It was the first time I stayed on the field a little longer than usual so I was able to be right in the mob of players as they embraced each other in the north end zone.
I was so shaky and overwhelmed from the crazy environment that when I got to the press conference room I managed to trip walking down the stairs and completely biffed it. Thankfully, it was pretty empty in there and when I got to sit and work I realized I captured photos that really defined my work. I have a photo of Will Grier getting sacked by JaQuan Bailey hanging on my wall still today.
Alright so before you read my thing below, I would like it on the record that the most fun I’ve had was when Juicy Wiggle played against West Virginia at the night game. Jackie more or less took that so we get the close, heartwarming No. 2.
A lot of people will gloss over the Drake game from 2018, but it was a dream to see for me when I was growing up. I went to Bulldog football games with my grandpa a lot before he passed away. I made it to a few basketball games with my grandma during the run in 2008 and still take her to see the team today. Drake has always ‘been around,’ but – and maybe this helped my fandom of the school – they never played Iowa State. It was odd to me, but I figured it out eventually.
The answer was obvious. Iowa State just isn’t a team that has the ability to easily beat the Bulldogs. Drake is just too much of a challenge for the Cyclones to justify a yearly rivalry – and that’s perfectly okay to admit.
Anyways I think I called my grandma over the phone a couple of times each quarter. She’s a huge Dogs fan. There were not many fans in the upper deck of the student section where we were sitting, and it started out by just making sure she was getting the game on her TV okay. After Drake took the lead for the first time, I’ve never heard her more genuinely happy and surprised at the same time. She managed to sound more elated than when the Cubs won the World Series a few years ago.
Obviously the game ended the way that it did, and I was happy the Cyclones won, but I think I was more relieved that I wouldn’t have to prove my bet to my friend of celebrating with the Drake parents had the Bulldogs won.