December 31, 2005: Midfield of Reliant Stadium for the 2005 Houston Bowl between Iowa State and TCU. ISU lost the game 24-21 and finished 7-5; the following year, the regular season expanded to 12 games.
Iowa State football is 7-5. That’s better than anyone expected! (Meanwhile, in Iowa City, 7-5 means FIRE EVERYONE and grumbling about the obligation of a bowl game.) A season with a win over Oklahoma is special — although I wish it could be more special, and an eighth win in a bowl would do that. But it’s hard not to look wistfully at the games that got away.
From the moment Matt Campbell said “BS teams care about 6-and-6″, Iowa State has one win — against “we’re Baylor again” Baylor — and is 0-3 against teams with a pulse. In two of those games, one against a ranked opponent and the other with nearly the same record, ISU led early but couldn’t seal the deal. The games literally came down to the final seconds of regulation. Conspiracy? Karma? Or just Iowa State football?
When looking back at the season, and those heartbreakers, I can’t help but draw parallels to the 2005 season. Consider:
- In 2005, ISU led Nebraska by 3 heading into the fourth quarter and then lost in double overtime. In 2017, ISU blew a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter — Iowa’s tying TD came with 1:05 left — and lost in overtime.
- In 2005, ISU led Missouri by a touchdown with a minute remaining and first place in the Big 12 North on the line. Missouri drove 87 yards to tie the game with 20 seconds left and ISU lost in overtime on a missed field goal. In 2017, ISU trailed Oklahoma State by a touchdown with a minute remaining and second place in the Big 12 on the line — and lost on a probably-was-an-interception in the end zone with 32 seconds to go.
- In 2005, on the last Saturday in November, ISU led Kansas by a touchdown with about two minutes to go, and punted. Kansas drove 58 yards in less than a minute to tie the game, and in overtime, again, ISU missed a field goal and lost. In 2017, on the last Saturday in November, ISU led Kansas State by 5 points with about two minutes to go, and punted after a pass-interference flag was waved off. KSU drove 87 yards and passed for the winning touchdown with no time left on the clock.
Shorter version: In 2005, ISU was a double-overtime and two last-minute drives from a 10-win season. In 2017, ISU was an overtime and two last-minute drives from a 10-win season (if ISU managed to beat OSU in the OT that didn’t happen).
Campbell already has one of the 10 best seasons in ISU football in the past 70 years, and yes, he’s staying at “a school that celebrates a 7-5 season” while the Tennessee and Arizona State fanbases are burning down their athletics departments for different reasons.