Iowa State Cyclones


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Iowa State Football Team

Iowa State began playing football in 1892, with its first official schedule in 1894, posting a record of 6-1 with a win over what is currently known as their principal rival, the University of Iowa. After playing as an independent for the first 15 years, Iowa State became a member of the Big Eight Conference, of which they were a member until the league expanded to become the Big 12 in 1997.

Te school has one of least accomplished records of any Big Five football program, with just a pair of conference titles in their history, the last one coming in 1912 after also capturing the crown a season earlier. Even after going 32-19 the past four seasons, Iowa State has still only compiled a record of 547-658-46 for a winning percentage of .456, the fifth worst among current major conference members, just slightly better than fellow Big 12 competitor Kansas State.

Iowa State Cyclones standings

The Iowa State Cyclones have made a name for themselves this season with their impressive play on both sides of the ball. With a record of 5-2, they sit comfortably in the middle of the Big 12 standings. Key stats for the Cyclones include an average of 29 points per game and a total of 1,944 rushing yards.

The Cyclones look to make a run for the conference title and solidify their place as a top team in the Big 12.

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Championships by Iowa State Team

Since the back to back Big Eight titles in 1911 and 1912, the only championship claimed by the Cyclones has been a tie with Colorado for the 2004 Big 12 North Division crown, but lost out on a tiebreaker to the Buffaloes, who were beaten by Oklahoma by the score of 42-3 in the conference championship game.

In lieu of championships, the positives about the Iowa State football program in the last 75 years are their five bowl wins and three top 25 season ending rankings. Since playing in their first bowl game in the 1971 Sun Bowl, a 33-15 loss to LSU, the Cyclones have played in 15 more, most recently defeating Oregon 34-17 in the Fiesta Bowl following this past season.

The victory lifted Iowa State to a 9-3 record and a final ranking of ninth in the AP poll, both the best in the history of Cyclone football. It was also the fourth consecutive winning record under head coach Matt Campbell, the first such streak since Iowa State strung together five straight 4-3-1 seasons from 1923-1927.

Key Stats by Iowa State Team

Iowa State has posted 46 winning seasons including the last four, 65 losing seasons and ten with the same number of wins as losses. From 1990 to 1999, the Cyclones posted ten consecutive seasons where they lost more games than they won, including going 0-10-1 in 1994 and 1-10 in 1997.

What’s really compelling is the recent success that Iowa State has enjoyed under head coach Matt Campbell, who has been able to lead the Cyclones to almost as many wins as they posted in the previous eight seasons. The bowl wins in four games is just one shy of what they had been able to accomplish in their entire football history.

The 2019 squad was the most prolific of all-time for Iowa State, putting up 418 points and averaging 444 total yards per game, with quarterback Brock Purdy averaging over 300 yards and throwing for 27 touchdowns. In recent seasons, the contrast to those numbers is the 173 points scored by the 2003 team, which ranked next to last of 117 FBS schools at the time.

Top Players in Iowa State History

A pair of quarterbacks stand out statistically for Iowa State, with Bret Meyer leading the team in career passing yardage with 9499 yards from 2004 to 2007 and current signal caller Brock Purdy throwing 62 touchdown passes in his first three seasons. Purdy was the first Iowa State quarterback to be named first team All-Big 12 in 2020 and needs only 517 yards to pass Meyer as the career leader.

The leading rusher in Iowa State history is Troy Davis, who gained 4,382 yards in three seasons from 1994 to 1996, averaging 5.6 yards a carry and also setting the school record for rushing touchdowns with 36. Dexter Green ran for one less score than Davis in his career that spanned 1975 to 1978, but he was able to add five receiving touchdowns and holds the total mark at 40.

The leading scorer in Iowa State history is kicker Cole Netten, who played from 2013 to 2016, with 138 extra points and 54 field goals made for a total of 300 points. Allen Lazard played from 2014 to 2017, setting the records for receptions with 241 and receiving yards with 3,360, while Todd Blythe holds the mark for receiving touchdowns with 31 from 2004 to 2007.

Top Coaches in Iowa State History

Glenn “Pop” Warner was the first Iowa State football coach who led the team for more than a season, guiding the Cyclones to a record of 18-8 in just over four seasons from 1895-1899 for a winning percentage of .692, which has only been bested by one coach. Clyde Williams led Iowa State to its only two conference titles and a record of 33-14-2 in six seasons from 1907-1912.

Only one coach has finished their tenure in Ames with more wins than losses since 1920, with Earle Bruce going 36-32 in six years from 1973 to 1978. Current head coach Matt Campbell has a record of 35-28 with four bowl appearances in his five seasons after struggling to a 3 – 9 mark in his first year at the helm.

The winningest of the 32 coaches that have tried to bring a consistent winning culture to Iowa State is Dan McCarney, who lasted 12 seasons from 1995 – 2006, but his 56 wins were offset by 85 losses, although he managed to win two bowl games in five appearances. Clay Stapleton, head coach from 1958 – 1967, accumulated 42 victories and is second on the list despite also losing 53 games and tying four.

Matt Campbell is under contract with Iowa State through 2028, with a $4 million buyout clause included in the deal, which might not be enough to discourage another school from making a run at him. Should Campbell stay another three or four years and have anything close to his recent success, he should be able to take over the career lead in wins for the Cyclones.


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Iowa State FAQs

Why is Iowa state called the cyclones?
The “Cyclones” name dates back to 1895. That year, Iowa suffered an unusually high number of devastating cyclones. 
How many national championships has Iowa State won?

26 national championships.

Why is the Iowa State Cyclone mascot a bird?
Because a cyclone was difficult to depict in costume, a cardinal was selected from the cardinal and gold of the official school colors. 
What is Iowa’s state motto?
Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain. 
What is the Iowa State Cyclones bowl record?


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