By most accounts, Iowa State’s back-to-back wins against Texas Tech since 2010 may be viewed as surprising results.
After all, the Red Raiders had beaten the Cyclones seven out of eight times before then.
Many remember the Red Raiders' 2011 debacle, a 41-7 home loss to the Cyclones, as the game Tech presumably approached with a 'hangover' after shocking then-No. 3 Oklahoma the week before in Norman, Okla.
"I thought we were much better and we didn't come close to playing how we could have played; not taking anything away from Iowa State," Tech coach Tommy Tuberville said of that loss Monday. "They brought it to us and took it to us in every form or fashion.”
In 2010, Tech trailed Iowa State 24-0 at one point before rallying to tie, and then lost 52-38 in Ames, Iowa. The Red Raiders are 2-2 all-time in Ames.
And as was the case before the loss in 2010, this year's meeting at Iowa State follows a bye week.
“Yeah, the vibe around the locker room and the building is totally different than it was last year,” Tech quarterback Seth Doege said. “Guys are excited about this game, which they should be.
"It's a big first test."
The perception of the Iowa State game being the team's first big test may apply to the defense more than the offense and special teams.
Through three games, the Red Raiders have performed well enough to garner rankings as the nation's No. 1 total defense, No. 1 pass defense and No. 8 rushing defense.
If Tech's first three games are any indication, the Red Raiders almost certainly will field a stingier defense than it has against the Cyclones the past two years.
Most importantly, when breaking down Saturday's game between Tech and Iowa State, may be the Red Raiders' ability to stop the run.
To this point, Tech has allowed 75.33 rushing yards per game, 2.43 yards per attempt and one score on the ground.
The Cyclones' rushing totals in the 2010 and 2011 games were 251 and 368 yards, respectively. As a team, Iowa State is averaging 175 rushing yards per game and has accounted for five rushing touchdowns.
Tech safety D.J. Johnson admits the unit is playing with a newfound confidence, but said the team's three non-conference games do not hold much value when evaluating the defense's legitimacy.
"The first three games to us, those are like just kind of glorified scrimmages more so," Johnson said. "We were still feeling ourselves out, and this is going to be the first real challenge we have had, first game in the Big 12. So it really starts here."
To enhance the sense of urgency to win, reminders of the team's recent failures against Iowa State have been postedthroughout Tech's football facilities.
Those reminders, at this point, may just serve as extra fuel to the fire.
“I think the fact that the two scores were posted around the locker room is enough motivation for us,” Doege said. “And the fact that it’s our first big test and our first game going into what our common goal is, to win a Big 12 championship, is motivation enough for us.”
-- Jose Rodriguez