AMES — Iowa State has been on the wrong side of early-season clunkers plenty of times under coach Matt Campbell.
The Cyclones have never started a season 2-0 under Campbell.
The latest September clunker came on Saturday as then-No. 9 Iowa State lost to then-No. 10 Iowa, 27-17.
It wasn’t so much that Iowa State lost to Iowa — top-10 losses have never been season killers — it was how disjointed the offense looked.
That game will just be another bit of early-season adversity for the Cyclones to overcome — something it’s used to at this point.
“We’ll see how we handle this going forward,” Campbell said. “I think I would always say we’ll be a team that will continue to get better as the season goes on. I think that’s the nature of who we are and the type of program we are. I won’t apologize for that either. But the reality of it is, ‘Man, adversity’s here.’”
Iowa State’s players believe they have the leadership in the locker room to guide it through the latest stumble.
Receiver Tarique Milton listed quarterback Brock Purdy and tight ends Chase Allen and Charlie Kolar who will get the offense steered in the right direction.
Linebacker Jake Hummel listed fellow linebacker Mike Rose, safety Greg Eisworth and defensive lineman Enyi Uwazurike as leaders on the defense that will step up.
“That’s just one loss and there’s a long season ahead of us,” Uwazurike said. “It’s about how we respond. That’s how we’re formed — how we deal with adversity, that’s who we are.
“Every time we go through adversity it’s a new lesson. Adversity is nothing but help for us. That’s how we look at it.”
It won’t just be on the leadership from the players to help Iowa State through. It’ll be a combined effort.
“You’re never guaranteed in life your hopes and dreams just because you work really hard and you’re really good,” Campbell said. “At some point you’ve got to stand up and demand it. There’s gotta be a sense of urgency in terms of doing those things.
“Whether that’s from my end, whether that’s from our player leadership end, I think as a collective whole, it’s gonna be really fun to see what happens as we respond through tough and trying times right now.”
In theory, Iowa State is about to enter the easiest part of its schedule with games against UNLV, which is one of the worst teams in all of FBS Division I college football and Kansas, which is one of the worst power five teams.
Two get-right games if there ever were.
Even though those games will be against out-matched teams, there are still areas Campbell points to as potential adversity spots.
“It’s gonna be a great challenge,” Campbell said. “We have back-to-back road games. We have to go play late at night next week. There’s real challenges out there and we’re gonna either go one of two ways and I would guess in the next two weeks it will be very defining of who we are and really what kind of team we have this year.”