Five thoughts on Iowa State's 38-21 win Thursday night over Tulsa:
1. Tom Farniok showed why he’s Iowa State’s MVP: How often do you see a center take a clipboard and start drawing up plays? Well, Farniok was doing that last night. Clearly Farniok brings leadership and a calming presence to the Cyclones offense, which ran smoother than it had the previous two games. On top of his intangibles, Farniok is a good player, too. No wonder Iowa State ran the ball better than it had all season.
2. The Cyclones found a running back: The Iowa State running game had been completely dormant the first two games, as the Cyclones shuffled through a series of running backs without much rhyme or reason. But in the Tulsa game, Iowa State finally figured out that Aaron Wimberly is its best option in the backfield. Wimberly ran for 137 yards on 19 carries and added a 31-yard grab in the passing game. Wimberly’s playmaking took pressure off quarterback Sam Richardson, too, something he had too much of against Northern Iowa and Iowa. The one-two punch of Wimberly and Jeff Woody, who had three goal-line touchdowns against Tulsa, should serve the Cyclones well going forward.
3. Tight end E.J. Bibbs finally emerged: In the Iowa loss, Iowa State’s only real receiving threat was Quenton Bundrage, who had three touchdown receptions. Bibbs, however, emerged against Tulsa with four grabs for 49 yards. He had a spectacular 20-yard catch to set up one Iowa State touchdown, and also hauled in a touchdown reception of his own. Bibbs was one of Iowa State’s big recruiting gets this offseason, as he chose the Cyclones despite a hard recruiting push for Oklahoma. With his combination of size, speed and hands, Bibbs has the talent to really help Richardson in the passing game the rest of the season.
4. Richardson showed he can play on the bad ankle: The Cyclones revealed some ominous news before the Tulsa game -- that Richardson’s ankle injury would likely linger all season. But Richardson showed against Tulsa he could still have success and moved around in and out of the pocket well despite the injury. “I definitely needed this game,” he said afterward. “It was a big game for me. It definitely gets my confidence (up).” Richardson will likely be sore this weekend. But with the right treatment, it’s something that won’t keep him off the field or hobble him too badly on it.
5. Iowa State now has momentum heading into the Texas game: Had the Cyclones lost to Tulsa, it would have been difficult seeing them turn things around in time for next week's Thursday night game with Texas. But with Iowa State figuring out some things offensively in Tulsa, the Texas game looks completely different. The Longhorns have been vulnerable and Jack Trice Stadium should be rocking, making this a winnable game for Iowa State. The Cyclones now have a golden opportunity to put the rough two-game start to the season behind them.