Iowa State's program has come to be defined by the fiery, passionate persona of coach Paul Rhoads.
The on-field identity of the Cyclones has been forged by seniors Jake Knott and A.J. Klein, a pair of once-overlooked linebackers who've blossomed into one of the top defensive duos in the country.
The Cyclones are off to their second straight 3-0 start behind a defense that's been better than most expected. They're 13th in the nation in scoring defense at 10.7 points allowed per game and they haven't allowed a touchdown in two weeks - a feat that hasn't been pulled off at Iowa State since the mid-60s.
The performance of Iowa State's defense so far has solidified Knott and Klein's reputation as like-minded program changers.
''Coach Rhoads has been preaching since Day 1 about changing the culture. To be a part of that and to be the foundation of that is huge,'' Knott said.
It's hard to imagine where Iowa State's once-porous defense would be without Knott and Klein.