Cyclone Nation was excited when their Insight Bowl invitation was announced.
Some might even say surprised.
The Insight Bowl had the sixth selection of Big 12 bowl teams and opted to take a 6-6 Iowa State team over an 8-4 Missouri team that defeated ISU back in November. The Cyclones won't complain, as they are set to play in their first bowl game since 2005.
"We are thrilled to death to be playing in a bowl game, to be practicing in December and have the opportunity to play," Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads said after receiving the invitation. Rhoads has every right to be thrilled, taking the Cyclones to a bowl game in his first year as head coach.
Rhoads is in the process of turning around a squad that won just five games in the last two seasons. And fans seem to be appreciating his effort. So far, Iowa State fans have purchased over 8,000 tickets to the game and are planning a "spirit rally" at 7 PM Wednesday in Chandler, Ariz.
Earlier this season, Rhoads told the team he expected to win a bowl game. They seem to be up to the challenge.
Alexander Robinson definitely is. The Minneapolis-native will be playing against his hometown team and looks to take full advantage of an opponent who gives up over 150 yards rushing a game.
Robinson rushed for 1,058 yards this season and six touchdowns this season and caught 15 passes for 241 yards and three more touchdowns.
The Cyclones will have to shine without one of their defensive stars playing in the game though. Starting senior defensive back Kennard Banks was suspended for an undisclosed violation of team rules and will not play in the bowl game.
Cornerback Ter’ran Benton comes back from an injury though and looks to help fill the hole left by Banks.
Iowa State looks to make the most of what was once considered implausible four months ago. The bowl appearance is a good start, but everyone in the Cyclone Nation wants an Insight win to cap off their implausible season and send them into next season on the right foot.
The Insight Bowl is Dec. 31 at 6 PM EST in Tempe, Arizona on the field of Sun Devil Stadium.