Iowa State: Not the Cyclones We Know

  • Monday, October 26, 2009 2:12 PM
  • Written By: Jonathan Crowl

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Paul Rhoads probably knows his Iowa State team got lucky at Nebraska. But you can bet he doesn't care.

How bad is Iowa State? It's coming off a winless conference season in 2008, after which its touted coach left two years in, leaving an unapologetic mess in his wake.

And then comes Rhoads, who brought optimism, understanding and energy to the sideline. Suddenly, Iowa State knows how to play football.

Four games remain on the Cyclones' schedule. With one more win, they're bowl eligible and likely bowl-bound. They pushed Kansas to its limit. They beat Nebraska at its own game -- defensive fortitude. And maybe they needed a trick play to extend a drive that led to their only touchdown, and maybe Nebraska's eight turnovers were unprecedented, but it doesn't matter.

Iowa State isn't an easy place to build a program. It's got all the attraction Nebraska does, minus the program prestige -- which is to say, none. Jack Trice Stadium is small and the athletics department doesn't have much money. But when you have a good coach, you can usually get things done, at least in the short term. Right now, there's no question Rhoads is doing just that.

This week: 4-2 overall, 4-2 Big 12

Overall: 46-20, 14-6 Big 12

Hits

Texas 41, Missouri 7: Everyone's saying that Colt McCoy returned in this game after struggles with illness and injuries earlier in the season. Missouri pulled quarterback Blaine Gabbert midway through en route to its first 0-3 conference start since 2002.

Oklahoma 35, Kansas 13: How awful did Todd Reesing look? Three interceptions on the first three drives is no way to start a game against the Sooners. Of course, he didn't get much help from his offensive line, which gave up three sacks and let OU get to Reesing all day.

Oklahoma State 34, Baylor 7: No intrigue, no surprise. But OSU hosts Texas next weekend in possibly the only legitimate game standing between Texas and a BCS Title Game appearance.

Kansas State 20, Colorado 6: What a contrast of coaching jobs. Kansas State is on an absolute roll right now. Meanwhile, the Buffs have to go 3-2 to finish with a 5-7 record. It seems even my five wins prediction was above and beyond Colorado.

Misses

Texas A&M 52, Texas Tech 30: Cyrus Gray had a field day against Texas Tech, scoring four touchdowns. Texas Tech can't be feeling good about losing by 22 to the team that Kansas State railed 62-14. It was a much-needed win for Texas A&M, which is still in pretty poor shape but at least won't feel as much heat this week.

Iowa State 9, Nebraska 7: Had I waited a week to write my midseason coaching review, Bo Pelini's efforts this season would place him solidly at No. 10. Losing to Iowa State, at home, via eight turnovers, by a score ofnine to seven no less, is among the ugliest home losses in Nebraska football history. This team has struggled from the get-go with its personnel, which lacks a serious playmaker. But credit to Iowa State: it looks like it has found a quarterback, and there are a lot of reasons for that program to be optimistic.

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Big 12 Preview | Texas A&M No. 10

  • Monday, August 10, 2009 11:21 AM
  • Written By: Jonathan Crowl

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2008 record: 4-8 overall, 2-6 Big 12 Conference

2009 projection: Maybe coach Mike Sherman will turn it around in College Station. But it's not happening this year.

Reason to get excited: A&M has a respectable secondary, and a number of talented underclassmen gained valuable experience during the rough patch known as the 2008 season.

Reason not to get worked up: The Big 12's worst defense in 2008 (37.4 points per game) won't get make huge strides this season.

The gist: The Aggies will use a run-oriented offense led by sophomore Cyrus Gray and freshman Christine Michael. They have enough experience on offense to stay competitive in shootouts, but the offensive line is still in question. Sherman overhauled the line in the offseason, even moving former defensive lineman Lucas Patterson to left tackle. But if Texas A&M makes a jump back into Big 12 relevance, it'll be in 2010. This season's roster is too full of inexperience and question marks to rise up into the top half of the South Division.

Rallying point: Ryan Tannehill. The sophomore set school records for receptions and receiving yards as a freshman, but now he's battling for the starting job with Jerrod Johnson. Wherever he ends up, he'll bear a lot of weight on his shoulders and have the respect of his teammates. Look for his multiple talents to be used as a trick-play asset.

Cover your eyes: In the trenches. A&M's greatest weaknesses show on the offensive and defensive lines, and the running game could be rough going both ways, no matter how good the Aggies' backs are.

For what it's worth: There's more talent on A&M's squad than their 4-8 campaign last year showed. Expect a quick, agile team, but don't expect to pour in the wins yet. Hope for flashes of brilliance, maybe a big upset and dream of next season.