Iowa State coach Matt Campbell arrived in Ames promising to change a culture accustomed to losing.
Campbell's debut ended with a crushing defeat that looked like so many the Cyclones have suffered in the past.
Aaron Bailey threw for 135 yards, ran for 114 more and had two touchdowns as Northern Iowa rallied to beat Iowa State 25-20 Saturday and spoil Campbell's first game with the Cyclones.
UNI's J'Veyon Browning scored from 1 yard out with 2:49 left after a Joel Lanning interception, putting the Panthers ahead by five.
Cyclones running back Mike Warren fumbled it right back to Northern Iowa, and Lanning's final pick with 1:10 left sealed what could hardly be considered an upset for Northern Iowa.
"It's really hard for us right now to play behind the chains. We have to have the ability to play in positive situations. When you're not in those, you start pressing and then turnovers and those things happen like they did in the second half," Campbell said.
Lanning finished with 256 yards passing, three touchdowns and those two costly interceptions.
The Panthers scored touchdowns after an Iowa State safety, fumble and interception in beating the Cyclones for the second time since 2013.
Iowa State: The Cyclones reworked and inexperienced offensive line, down a starter to suspension, looked shaky at best in its first performance. Iowa State couldn't get their ground game going, as Warren had just 30 yards on 12 carries. That left the Cyclones unable to sustain drives, which kept its defense on the field longer than it needed to be. Iowa State was also killed by penalties, nine for 89 yards, which wiped out big gains by its offense. "It makes it hard for an offensive line when you're second and 20 and third and 20. We put our offensive line in some really tough spots and that hurt those guys," Campbell said. Lanning made three big throws for TDs, but his inexplicable fourth-quarter interceptions cost the Cyclones dearly.
Northern Iowa: The Panthers entered play ranked fifth in the FCS - and they showed why they'll likely be a national title contender. Northern Iowa made the Cyclones pay for their mistakes and made the plays down the stretch that their FBS rivals couldn't.
Iowa State: Cyclones wide receiver was brilliant yet again in a losing cause. He had six catches for 129 yards and a 33-yard TD reception that, had Iowa State not caved in crunch time, could have been the game-winning grab. ...TackleJulian Good-Jones was suspended for the game for violating team rules. Even though he's just a redshirt freshman, the Cyclones could've used the help. ...Receiver Hakeem Butler's first career catch was a one-hander from 18 yards out that went for a touchdown.
Northern Iowa: Tyvis Smith rushed for 68 yards on 17 carries and caught five passes for 43 more. ...Punter Sam Kuhter averaged 44 yards on eight tries, pinning Iowa State inside its own 20 on three of them.
THE LAST WORD
"We felt like we let them outperform us tonight. We know our capability. We definitely didn't meet our potential," Lazard said.
Iowa State: The Cyclones will travel to Iowa City to face rival Iowa, ranked 17th. The Hawkeyes had some issues defensively, but their offense averaged eight yards a play as they rolled 45-21 over Miami (Ohio) on Saturday. Iowa State has beaten Iowa more than once after looking sluggish in its opener, but it'll likely be a big underdog against the defending Big Ten West champion.
Northern Iowa: The Panthers host Montana, ranked No. 13 in the FCS, in a key non-conference showdown in Cedar Falls.