When you think of Iowa State football, “success” isn’t the first word that probably pops in your head. In fact, many college football fans probably think the opposite, and some don’t think about Iowa State at all. And Cyclone fans shouldn’t really take offense — Iowa State is 109th out of 130 active FBS teams in all-time win percentage and has by far the longest 1st round NFL Draft pick drought in the country. That’s bad!
So with the Cyclones’ recent run of success (relative to the history listed above), many of the program’s less impressive school records have been shattered.
Todd Blythe’s career receptions mark stood at 176 for a decade before Allen Lazard shattered it literally one game into his senior season (and would finish with 65 more receptions than Blythe). George Amundson’s 26 total touchdowns stood as Iowa State’s single-season record for 47 years before Brock Purdy blew it out of the water with his 35 total touchdowns last season. Hakeem Butler, Jaquan Bailey, and Cole Netten have also etched their names atop the ISU record books, and more records are bound to fall as talent and success continue to defy ISU’s historical trend.
But we tend to only hear about the records that are in jeopardy of being broken — what about the ones that seem unbreakable? Does Iowa State even have any of those?
Technically, no — all records are meant to be broken, right? However, Iowa State does have a few records that would require an elite athlete, some crazy luck, or a combination of both to break. Here is a list of the 10 most “unbreakable” Iowa State football records.
10. Cole Netten’s 94.1% Field Goal Percentage in 2016
Kicking field goals is hard, and college kickers are perhaps the perfect case study — they are notorious for being easy punching bags for upset fans and football critics. While the Cyclones were still adjusting to the Matt Campbell coaching change, Cole Netten was Mr. Consistent, hitting 16 of his 17 field goals for the third-best field goal percentage in college football in 2016. In fact, only 50 kickers since 1956 have made 94%+ of their field goals — for reference, no other Cyclone kicker has made more than 80% of field goals in a season. This one could stand for a while.
Honorable Mention: Netten’s 15-consecutive made field goals from 2015-2016
9. Brian Reffner’s 28 Tackles Against Nebraska in 1985
This is one of those stats that you probably don’t think about much, but kind of blows your mind when you realize how many tackles that is. Joel Lanning flew into All-American status with his 20 tackles against Texas in 2017. AJ Klein never had more than 19 tackles in a game. Jake Knott maxed out at 18. So Refner’s 28 seems almost impossible — and it really almost is, considering the NCAA record is 30 in one game. This is one of those stats that requires just as much luck as it does skill, meaning it could be in the record books for a long time.
Honorable Mention: Chris Washington’s 457 career tackles from 1980-83 — 71 more tackles than 2nd place Keith Schroeder from 1969-71
8. Allen Lazard’s 48 Consecutive Games With a Reception From 2014-17
Lazard played 48 games as a Cyclone. He caught a pass in every single game he played. The only reason he doesn’t hold the NCAA record for consecutive games with a reception (current record is 40 games) is because he missed a game due to a shoulder injury, making it “non-consecutive” (stupid technicalities!). Four-year players are few and far between these days, and to have one that catches a pass in every consecutive game he plays is basically a unicorn.
Honorable Mention: Lazard’s 241 career receptions
7. Troy Davis’ 2,185 Rushing Yards in 1996
We know this record isn’t technically unbreakable, as seven players have rushed for more yards in a season… but then again, just seven players in the history of college football have rushed for more yards in a season. Davis is also famous for being the first running back to rush for 2,000 yards in two separate seasons, which seems unbreakable in its own right, and in today’s football landscape, running backs are rarely asked to be workhorses and more often utility knives. The next ISU running back to rush for 2,000+ yards will be a household name across the country.
Honorable Mention: Davis’ 2,466 all-purpose yards in 1995
6. Barry Hill’s 21 Career Interceptions From 1972-74
To put this number into perspective, the Cyclone in second place (Tony Washington) has 14 career interceptions, a whopping seven less than Hill. More perspective: Less than 10 players across FBS have recorded 21 career interceptions since 1976. Even the best ISU defensive back in recent memory, Ellis Hobbs, only had nine interceptions in his career. This is one that could stand a long time.
Honorable Mention: Hill (and Everett Kischer)’s 4 interceptions in a single game
5. Troy Davis’ Five 200-yard Rushing Performances in 1996
Think of Iowa State’s best running backs of this millenium: Ennis Haywood, Alexander Robinson, Mike Warren, and David Montgomery. Those four running backs combined for more than 11,000 yards rushing at Iowa State and were known for their explosiveness. Combined, they had four 200-yard rushing performances in 133 games played. Davis had five of them in one season.
Honorable Mention: Davis’ 402 rushing attempts in 1996
4. Bob Dennis’ 90-yard Punt Against UNI in 1946
Today’s athletes are some of the most physically advanced humans in history. Bob Dennis doesn’t care. That’s because all the way back in 1946, he launched a punt that traveled 90 yards in a stat that can basically be boiled down to luck. Whether it was wind, lucky bounces, or just pure power, this is one of those stats that makes you wonder “how?” and is likely to stand for at least another 70+ years.
Honorable Mention: Here’s my favorite honorable mention, which deserves its own article — Iowa State’s fewest total yards in a game was 5 yards… AND THEY DIDN’T EVEN LOSE THE GAME! They tied Marquette 6-6 in 1951 in what I can only imagine was one of the worst football games to ever have been played.
3. Troy Davis’ 378 Rushing Yards Against Missouri in 1996
I promise, I tried not to make this top-10 just a list of Troy Davis’ accomplishments. We know how good he was and it’s why he
won got robbed of the Heisman. That’s why he holds the school record for most rushing yards in a game… and 2nd most rushing yards in a game (302)… and 3rd most rushing yards in a game (291). In fact, the next Cyclone not named Troy Davis to show up on the list is Dave Hoppmann at fourth, who rushed for 271 yards against Kansas State in 1961… a full 106 yards less than Davis’ best game.
Honorable Mention: Davis’ 53 rushing attempts against Kansas State in 1996 — that’s right, Davis’ 378-yard performance wasn’t even on the most attempts of his career
2. Intercepting 10 Passes against Gustavus Adolphus in 1944
Okay, a couple caveats: Gustavus Adolphus was a non-major opponent and football was basically a different sport in 1944. In fact, the NCAA hardly recognizes interceptions against non-major opponents — they list Brown’s 11 interceptions against Rhode Island in 1949 as a record, but all other references for most interceptions in a game are for games against major college opponents (Oklahoma State (1942) and UCLA (1978) are the other “record holders” with 10 interceptions against a major college opponents). But to have the 2nd most interceptions ever recorded in an NCAA football game is still pretty insane, and it’s hard to imagine the feat being pulled off by any team in today’s college football landscape.
Honorable Mention: Forcing 12 turnovers against Drake in 1952
1. Troy Davis’ 17-consecutive 100-yard Rushing Games From 1995-96
Read that again. SEVENTEEN CONSECUTIVE ONE-HUNDRED YARD RUSHING GAMES. Iowa State is more likely to intercept 11 passes in a game this season, and I’ll stand by that. Davis has made up four of the 10 spots on this list and his dominance was well-documented, but this is the one stat that made me do a double-take. Darren, Troy’s brother, is comfortably in second place with 8-consecutive 100-yard rushing performances… which is less than half of Troy’s output. David Montgomery only had 15 such performances in his entire 37-game career. I can confidently say I will never see this record broken in my lifetime.
Honorable Mention: Davis’ 11 100-yard rushing games in 1996