AMES (MCT) — There are some memories Iowa State football coach Paul Rhoads likes to keep fresh in the back of his mind.
There are others Rhoads would like to bury as deep as possible.
With Iowa State set to travel to Austin, Texas, for Saturday’s 11 a.m. kickoff at Darrell K Royal Stadium against No. 19 Texas, Rhoads has two distinctive memories of the Cyclones’ (5-4 overall, 2-4 Big 12) last two meetings with the Longhorns (7-2, 4-2).
Rhoads has been trying to erase last year’s humbling, 37-14 defeat in Ames, where ISU committed a comedy of errors in front of the second-largest crowd in Jack Trice Stadium history (56,390) and trailed 34-0 at halftime.
That loss halted a strong start to the season (3-0) and was the beginning of a five-game losing streak.
“We got out-coached, out-played a year ago,” Rhoads said. “We were a hot football team ... had a chance with an open date to make some national noise against them and they came out in the first half and put it on us.”
Two years ago is a far different memory for Rhoads and the Cyclones. Iowa State was trudging along at 3-4 when the Cyclones posted their first road win over a ranked opponent in 20 years, 28-21 over the then-No. 22 Longhorns.
“We just played better than they did,” recalled running back Jeff Woody. “I don’t think they had the greatest season two years ago, might’ve been 5-7, 6-6 or something like that, and they were a little down and we took advantage of it.
“We just executed better all day.”
Rhoads believes his team, loser of three of its last four, needs to draw on what it did two seasons ago, recalling how he took a struggling football team that had lost back-to-back games in the previous two weeks to Utah (68-27) and Oklahoma (52-0) and saw it respond with its best game of the season.
“We executed well as a football team after playing poorly weeks before that,” Rhoads said. “If you remember, that was most pleasing to me because our kids had responded from poor play and adversity to go down there and play a good football game.
“That is what we will look to do again after last week is go down and play a good football game and live with the results.”
It will be a different challenge and a different Texas team the Cyclones will face.
The 2010 team finished 5-7, losing five of its final six games. The current Longhorn team appears to be gaining traction after a midseason losing streak that saw it lose back-to-back games to West Virginia (48-45) and Oklahoma (63-21) by winning the last three.
“Sometimes you hit that rhythm I talk about at different points in the season ... (they) had a couple of tough losses in a row against good football teams and have bounced back and now are playing very well as 11 guys on the field with all their phases, all their units,” Rhoads said.