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Published: Friday, 9/1/2006

UT part of tough slate for Iowa State

BY DAVE HACKENBERG
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

AMES, Iowa Last night s season-opening opponent, Toledo, represented the first of nine 2005 bowl teams that Iowa State will face during the 2006 regular season.

We ve got everybody except the Steelers and Dolphins on this schedule, quipped Cyclones coach Dan McCarney. There are only two of us [North Carolina is the other] playing that many bowl teams. But do you know how much sympathy we ll get? None.

You know, that statistic, nine bowl opponents, doesn t include Northern Iowa, which was runner-up in the Division I-AA playoffs last year and is ranked in the top 10 this season, McCarney said. So our schedule is loaded. But what can you do other than embrace it and face the challenge?

Based on opponents 2005 records, Iowa State s current schedule is rated as the second toughest in the nation. Duke plays teams that went a combined 92-52 (.639) last year while ISU s opponents went 93-54 (.633).

The Cyclones will get a break from 05 bowl teams next weekend when they host UNLV, but they travel to Iowa and Texas for the next two games.

CHURCH BELLS: In a late UT depth-chart change, true freshman Barry Church (6-foot-3, 216) moved ahead of Lester Richmond and got the start last night at strong safety.

The move paid immediate dividends when, on the first drive of the game, Church made a big hit on Iowa State tight end Ben Barkema to cause a fumble that was recovered by UT linebacker Mike Alston at the Iowa State 43.

UT drove to the ISU 28 on its ensuing possession, but failed to convert on a 4th-and-7 play. The Cyclones responded with a quick, six-play drive.

Quarterback Bret Meyer scored from six yards out on a quarterback sneak for a 7-0 ISU lead.

DYNAMIC DUO: Iowa State s Meyer and fellow junior receiver Todd Blythe hooked up 51 times for exactly 1,000 passing yards last season. The Rockets got a taste of it on the first play of the Cyclones second possession when they jump-started a drive with a 30-yard pass gain.

A year ago, Blythe ranked No. 2 in the nation in yards per catch (19.61)

They re both great young men, first of all, McCarney said. They re roommates, best friends, and great competitors, plus they re very unselfish.

The team is No. 1. It doesn t always happen that way with two stars who are buddies, but it does with these guys. There s no doubt they elevate the play of everyone around them.

STREAK GROWS: A completion from UT quarterback Clint Cochran to Steve Odom late in the second quarter marked the 38th straight game in which Odom has caught a pass. That s the longest active streak in the nation.

The play sparked a 99-yard drive that led to a Cochran-to-Chris Hopkins touchdown pass with 4:22 left in the half. The Rockets extra-point attempt was blocked but was subsequently fumbled by the Cyclones and recovered by Hopkins who turned it into a two-point conversion for an 8-7 UT lead.

THREE-DOT DATA: Brandon Summers, UT s No. 3 quarterback, and not Brett Kern, attempted the game s first punt. It so confused the Cyclones that no receiver dropped back to cover or return the nice, 48-yard kick. ... A dozen true or redshirt freshmen saw action for UT during the first quarter alone. ... Entering last night s game,

UT and Iowa State had each produced 10 defensive touchdowns since the start of the 2003 season, which tied them for the fifth-highest total in the nation. ... Rocket coach Tom Amstutz, who celebrated his 51st birthday Wednesday, entered last night s game hoping to improve on a 3-2 mark in season openers, which included an 0-2 record when the opener happened to come away from the Glass Bowl. ... Last night s contest was the first meeting between UT and the Cyclones. The next will come on Sept. 22 of next season at the Glass Bowl. ... UT entered the game 0-2 all-time against Big 12 opponents. The first two losses came against Kansas, which visits the Glass Bowl in two weeks. ... Toledo owned a 55-19 record since the start of the 2000 season prior to last night s tilt against the Cyclones.



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