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Iowa St now must build off Iowa win
Question of the Day
AMES, IOWA (AP) - For the third straight year, Iowa State is coming off a win few saw coming.
Now comes what has been the hard part for the Cyclones: following up a big win with another solid performance.
When Iowa State plays a nationally televised game at Connecticut on Friday night, the Cyclones (2-0) will try to conjure up more of the magic that enabled them to upset Iowa 44-41 in three overtimes last Saturday. They've been unable to do that following their two previous marquee victories under coach Paul Rhoads.
Two years ago, Iowa State stunned Nebraska 9-7 in Lincoln, then was routed by Texas A&M (35-10) and Oklahoma State (34-8) the next two games.
Last year, after the Cyclones beat Texas 28-21 in Austin for their first victory ever over the Longhorns, they came out flat against a Kansas team that had been outscored 159-24 in its three previous games. Iowa State trailed 9-7 at halftime before rallying for a 28-16 victory.
Wide receiver Darius Reynolds said he learned from that game and is taking a different approach this year.
"To me, the game on Saturday is already forgotten about," Reynolds said Monday. "I'm just going to start watching film on UConn, start studying them up a little bit, learning their defense and the coverages and seeing what matchups I'll get.
"Last year I didn't really do that. It was more about bragging and boasting about the Texas victory and how we beat them."
Rhoads said there was no doubt his team started the Kansas game with a Texas-sized hangover. The Cyclones managed only five first downs in the opening half and got their only touchdown of the half on a punt return.
"That's why I think that was such a very big win," Rhoads said. "We did struggle. But we fought through that struggle and found a way to win that football game. They came in and hit us in the mouth and we responded. Now, you'd rather go into it and not have to be forced to respond. You'd rather go out and start executing and playing fast from play one."
Rhoads said he didn't think a letdown was the problem when Texas A&M routed the Cyclones after their victory over Nebraska.
"We were out of gas," he said. "It was later in the season. It was game nine and we hadn't had an open date. Our football team was running on empty."
It would be easy for the Cyclones to keep soaking up the glow from their victory over Iowa. They had lost three straight to the Hawkeyes and had managed only one touchdown in those games. They scored six TDs on Saturday.
But defensive back Leonard Johnson said he and his teammates have to forget about Saturday.
"It's hard to do," he said. "Of course it is. But you've just got to do it."
Johnson had done his part to push the Hawkeyes aside. After the game, he put a photo of himself celebrating on his Twitter account. He has since taken it down.
"The Iowa win was good. I'm going to still think about it every day," he said. "(But) find a way to put it behind you and focus on the next opponent."
Quarterback Steele Jantz, playing just his second major-college game, stung Iowa with four touchdown passes and converted several third-and-long and fourth-down situations. Jantz led the Cyclones to the tying touchdown with 1:17 left in regulation, then directed them to TDs in each of the three overtime periods.
The week before, Jantz produced two touchdowns in the last 4 1/2 minutes of a 20-19 victory over Northern Iowa, scoring the game winner himself on 1-yard sneak with 40 seconds left.
He will soon face a Connecticut defense that's giving up only 214 yards a game and has allowed opponents to complete just 47 percent of their passes. The Huskies (1-1) also have recorded eight sacks.
Can he keep it up?
"I think he can," wide receiver Josh Lenz said. "I think a lot of it's just natural for him. He's just a natural quarterback. He has a knack of making plays when he needs to and that's what he's doing."
By John McAfee
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