Relatively little is typically expected from Iowa State on the national landscape, yet there are more than a few occasions in which the Cyclones produce impressively.
This largely isn’t because Iowa State is landing and producing elite talent each year, either, because that’s simply not the case. However, relative to its talent, with just five players drafted to the NFL since 2009, Iowa State comes in as the No. 3 biggest overachiever in Power 5 football, per Rivals’ Rob Cassidy.
“Both former coach Paul Rhodes and current coach Matt Campbell have been regarded as impressive young coaches at times during their careers for good reason, as willing Iowa State’s past rosters to any measure of success certainly wasn’t easy. Perennial Big 12 doormat Kansas, a school with a 28-93 overall record in the years that factored into this study, has seen eight players drafted over the same period.”
Again, Iowa State isn’t exactly one of college football’s premier programs, but throughout the years, the Cyclones have generally done more with less. Since Rivals’ began tracking recruiting classes in 2002, Iowa State’s top-ranked class was No. 30 overall in 2002. No other class has been ranked higher than No. 42, and as seen with just five Cyclones being drafted in nearly an entire decade, those under-the-radar recruits aren’t overwhelmingly blossoming into college stars in Ames (Ia.).
Yet, despite that reality, Iowa State has still managed to make four bowl appearances since 2009, and far more notably, the Cyclones are fresh off a 8-5 2017 slate that capped with a Liberty Bowl win over No. 20 Memphis. Campbell’s second season at Iowa State is quite arguably the program’s most successful since 2000, and it appears as if he has the program trending upwards.
Iowa State may not also receive the national recognition it may be due, but bearing in mind the talent level that comes through Ames, the Cyclones overachieve more impressively than virtually any team in college football.