Ames, Iowa Nonbelievers, take note. Iowa State coach Dan McCarney thinks it's time his football team gets some recognition.
Once mired in a 13-game Big 12 Conference losing streak, Iowa State now is one victory from first place in the league's North Division. If the Cyclones win today's home game with Nebraska, they'd be tied with the Cornhuskers for the lead.
"This is about Iowa State doing some things this week and the last three weeks that no one, not anybody in America, even guessed, even thought, even dreamed we could get done," McCarney said Tuesday.
Iowa State (4-4, 2-3 Big 12) has won its last two games, the latest a 13-7 victory over Kansas. The Cyclones were outgained in both games, but still found a way to win.
"We've got a long ways to go, but we're going into the ninth week of the season and nobody still is talking about Iowa State, not even mentioning us," said McCarney, whose team was 2-10 last season.
Three Saturdays left
"We've got three Saturdays to have a chance to be one of the most improved teams in America. That's what's out there and we're going to try and work toward that."
Special teams and defense were huge in the victory over Kansas. Iowa State blocked a punt, leading to a field goal, and defensive tackle Brent Curvey returned a fumble for the Cyclones' only touchdown.
Iowa State has scored a school-record five defensive touchdowns this season -- two fumble returns by Curvey and three on interceptions. The Cyclones also recovered a blocked punt for a touchdown.
"We've blocked six kicks already this year, three of them by Nick (Leaders)," McCarney said. "His effort's just been phenomenal."
McCarney said the team's unity has been critical, especially after a disheartening 19-14 loss at Colorado on Oct. 16.
"Ever since that Colorado game there's just been another level of resolve, resiliency and toughness and heart with this staff and this team," McCarney said. "Hopefully, it will continue."