Paul Rhoads’ Iowa State squad refused to give up in 2013. Injuries, lack of playmakers and inexperience built a wall between the Cyclones and their hopes for another bowl appearance, yet Rhoads’ crew finished the season playing its best football of the year.
Back-to-back wins over Kansas and West Virginia in ISU’s final two games should help ease the pain of seven straight losses to begin Big 12 play. The Cyclones finished 3-9 but ended the year with hope for the future thanks to quarterback Grant Rohach, who took over as ISU’s starter down the stretch.
Offensive MVP: Quenton Bundrage. The sophomore receiver was one of the Big 12’s most explosive players. His 97-yard catch and run for a score against Texas was just a glimpse of his talent. Bundrage finished with 48 receptions for 676 yards and nine touchdowns, which ranked third in the Big 12.
Defensive MVP: Jeremiah George. The senior linebacker stepped right in to replace Jake Knott and A.J. Klein as one of the Big 12’s top linebackers while wearing the Cyclones’ cardinal and gold. George finished with 133 tackles, averaging 11.08 tackles per game, including 11 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. He was all over the field while playing with a will and passion that helped ISU turn things around and win its final two games.
Best moment: ISU’s 52-44 triple-overtime win over West Virginia was the perfect example of the Cyclones’ refusal to stop competing this season. They rallied from a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit to force overtime, then secured the win in the third overtime. A great way to end a season full of disappointment.
Worst moment: The Cyclones were certain they had beaten Texas in their Big 12 opener. And it sure looked like they had before George’s would-be fumble recovery was nullified and another game was added to the Cyclones’ loss column. The disappointment from that loss seemed to snowball into their seven-game losing streak to start conference play.