Mike Stensrud led Iowa State to back-to-back bowl games in 1977 and 1978. The Cyclones played in the Peach Bowl in 1977 and in the Hall of Fame Bowl in 1978.
In 1976 Stensrud teamed up with his older brother Maynard and defensive lineman Tom Randall, in anchoring the Cyclone defense. Arguably the greatest Cyclone football team of all-time, the 1976 squad finished with an 8-3 record and a No. 18 ranking in the final AP poll.
Stensrud was part of the tough 1977 defense that was first in the Big Eight in scoring defense and second in total defense and rushing defense. He led the Big Eight in sacks with 15 while recording a career-high 115 tackles in 1977.
Stensrud was selected as an All-American at defensive tackle for both 1977 and 1978. He was also named all-Big Eight defensive tackle for both 1977 and 1978, recording 306 tackles during his four-year career. He was selected to play in both the Hula Bowl and the Senior Bowl.
The Cyclone defender was selected by the Houston Oilers in the second round of the NFL draft in 1979. He led the team in quarterback hurries and finished second on the squad in sacks in 1981. The 1981 Oiler squad advanced to the AFC Championship game. Stensrud continued to produce in his second year as a pro, leading the Oiler defensive lineman with 21 tackles and 12 assists in 1982.