With the recent announcement of Steele Jantz as the Cyclones' starter for the 2:30 PM kickoff against Tulsa on September 1st we thought it appropriate to provide our breakdowns of how we think the Cyclones will finish this year.
You will see a fair bit of optimism after the jump but let's take a step back and look at how the Cyclones currently sit compared to where they were a year ago, or even in 2009 when Paul Rhoads took over. First, look at the excellent analysis provided by GeneralSwampfox regarding the physical and mental transformation of the program under Rhoads.
Second, step back and think where this team was when Rhoads took over in 2009. You had a quarterback who was on his third coaching staff in four seasons, one running back capable of shouldering the load, a hodgepodge of receivers and linemen, and a defense whose biggest star was a middle linebacker who originally joined the team as a walk-on and nearly quit after Chizik left Ames.
Fast forward to 2011 and the Cyclones finish with two quarterbacks that won three games, a second round NFL Draft pick in Kelechi Osemele, Leonard Johnson with his hometown Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Co-Big XII Defensive Player of the Year in A.J. Klein. 2012 starts off with six linemen having played over 100 snaps in 2011, two experienced quarterbacks, a proven trio of running backs, and one of the best linebacking tandems in the country. Couple all of that with some young talent at the wide receiver position and a favorable home slate and it's no wonder you'll see a lot of optimism after the jump.
Tulsa, W. 32-18. Cody Green was terrible against with NFL running backs and WRs at his disposal as a Husker. I expect more of the same. Also, Paul Rhoads is currently undefeated against non-BCS opponents (albeit barely).
@Iowa, W. 24-14. We steal one in IC. Iowa's offense will be wildly one-dimensional, and doesn't really have a strength. Their inexperienced front 7 gets mauled by our O-line, much like last year, and we have a big day running the ball and playing keep-away.
WIU, W. 32-10. Rhoads just doesn't clobber inferior opponents, unless its TTU.
TTU, W. 45-32. I see no reason to think TTU beats us in Ames. We will run the ball down their throats for the third straight year, as Tubberville begins his Big 12 Farewell Tour.
@TCU, L. 32-21. The first Big 12 game in the newly rennovated Amon G. Carter stadium will yield an electric home atmosphere, and Casey Pachall + Gary Patterson's defensive wizardry prove to be too much for the Clones.
KSU, W. 21-18. A very similar looking game to last year, but this year, Collin Klein is figured out. Jack Trice is an absolute snake pit for this game, and Rhoads FINALLY gets Snyder after 3 straight heartbreakers outside of Ames.
@OSU, L. 38-28. We hang with OSU, but they will be too motivated, and Joseph Randle proves to be too much for the Clones. We make Wes Lunt look like a Heisman candidate, and they get some measure of revenge.
Baylor, W. 32-21. Baylor is not ready to reload. They lose everyone who produced for them offensively, and return a poor defense. The fact that the game is in Ames bodes well for the Cyclones.
OU, W. 24-18. The Paul Rhoads Upset Special of 2012. Jack Trice is absolutely electric for a beautiful late fall 2:30 nationally televised that showcases the upstart ISU squad taking on a lagging OU squad that suffers from a lack of explosive skill players. The crowd storms the field, as Rhoads knocks the 500 lb gorilla off the program's back.
UT, L. 21-10. The best defense in the conference mauls us into submission as our bubble quickly deflates in a classic let down game. Texas scores a defensive TD, and gets another off of great field position due to a Steele Jantz/James White botched zone read.
KU, L. 21-7. Every year we come out incredibly flat in a game that we could win. Lawrence has been a house of horrors for us. This game has "trap" written all over it, as hype begins to build for Black Friday and Riot Bowl I. Whoever wins the QB battle absolutely wets the bed.
WVU, L. 49-48, OT. We take the conference-leading Mountaineers to OT in front of a wild Jack Trice Stadium, and lose going for the win. A great opportunity was missed, but its hard to be angry after a great effort by an out-gunned squad.
Final Record: 7-5 (4-5)
Tulsa, W: 31-28. Way too close for comfort, but a late rushing touchdown preserves the win
@Iowa, W: 28-21. Iowa still working out the kinks with the new OC and DC. Look to Greg Davis' other coaching masterpiece, the 2010 ISU-UT game for a similar outcome.
Western Illinois, W: 38-17. Barnett and Richardson and the backups get fourth quarter playing time in a blowout that looks closer than it is.
Texas Tech, W: 45-38 A third straight win at home has Iowa State close to being ranked
@TCU, L: 35-21. TCU struggles in the Big XII opening season, but still has enough talent to beat Iowa State at home.
Kansas State, W: 31-28. Getting KSU at home for the first time in four years does wonders.
@Oklahoma State, L: 42-24. Even with a freshman quarterback, OSU has enough talent to score a lot of points. OSU avenges last year's loss at home.
Baylor, L: 35-28. Losing Robert Griffin III, Kendall Wright and Terrance Gannaway tones down Baylor's ridiculous offense a bit, but BU still has enough playmakers on offense to make you forget you're watching an actual game, and not an EA Sports simulation.
Oklahoma, L: 35-21. Iowa State is in the toughest part of the schedule, and with injuries likely mounting, Oklahoma is just too good to match up with.
@Texas, L: 28-21. ISU is probably the better coached team, but UT's overwhelming talent advantage makes the difference.
@Kansas, W: 17-14. An ugly game similar to last year's contest, ISU barely squeaks past KU on the road and breaks a four-game losing streak and becomes bowl eligible with their sixth win.
West Virginia , W: 39-38 OT. Rhoads goes for two in overtime again. Senior captain Bueker is the holder, he completes the pass to Ernst Brun, and Rhoads claims a shocking upset for his fourth straight year.
Final Record: 7-5 (4-5)
Tulsa-W: 28-24. With under 2 minutes to play the defense comes up big by getting a pick in the redzone. Cyclones rejoice and pull their hair out at the same time.
@Iowa-W: 24-13. Iowa State Linebackers on full display, shucking lineman, taking away bubble screens and making Fiedorowicz look like the jackass he is.
Western Illinois-W: 35-10. Offense stalls in the in the opening half only scoring 10. Turns it on in the second half and fans sing Sweet Caroline comfortably for the first time this season.
Texas Tech-W: 23-17. Over confidence threatens a solid season so far. Tech leads most of game only to commit turnovers in the 4th quarter.
@TCU-W: 34-27. Things get back on track with the offense and defense again pull in a late interception to lead the Cyclones to victory
Kansas State-L: 27-21. Farmageddon. Bill Synder. People walk away muttering to themselves and to their beers. This is the game looking back we should have had.
@ Oklahoma State-L: 42-28. The cowboys get payback for the upset in Ames. Game is closer than the score suggests.
Baylor-L: 28-17. The losing streak continues as due to turnovers
Oklahoma-L: 35-21 again we lose one that we probably should have won but Boomer makes good on too many ISU mistakes.
@ Texas-L: 28-21 OT. ISU brings it best to steal another victory in Austin but Texas' D-Ends create havoc for the ISU offense
@ Kansas-W: 35-17. Iowa State bounces back with authority in a game that is never in doubt. Bowl eligible again.
West Virginia-L: 24-21 OT. A cold windy day in Ames and fans leave even colder as a 7 win season goes wide right at the end of regulation. Cyclones can't get into the endzone and miss another field goal in OT.
Final Record: 6-6 (3-6)
ISU 38 - Tulsa 20 - 550 yards combined rushing between the two teams. Jantz goes 10-15 for 168 yards. No picks, no TDs.
ISU 27 - iowa 17 - iowa jumps out to a 10-3 lead, but ground game and huge plays by Jantz in 2nd half salt the game away. iowa gets late TD to make it look closer than it is.
ISU 42 - Western Illinois 3 - Defense plays huge and another efficient game running the ball.
ISU 34 - Texas Tech 27 - Cyclones have to battle back as Tech strikes quickly. Tech has a chance to score a TD at the end of regulation, but Jacques Washington breaks up a catch and Rhoads makes it 3-0 over Tubberville.
TCU 24 - ISU 20 - ISU actually moves the ball well throughout and leads for most of the game, but TCU gets a late score and Jantz is picked off on the ensuing drive, ending ISU's chances.
ISU 37 - KSU 34 (3OT) - Another thriller in the Farmaggedon series. Ironically enough, KSU's FG attempt is blocked in the third OT and Cole Netten sinks one down the center for the win.
Oklahoma State 33 - ISU 31 - Quinn Sharp doesn't miss this time, nailing a 50-yarder with two minutes left to give the Pokes the lead. ISU gets into FG range, but Jantz fumbles on the 3rd down and Oklahoma State recovers, ending the game.
ISU 45 - Baylor 33 - A back and forth game with multiple lead changes. A Jeremy Reeves interception in the 4th quarter sets up a James White score though and Baylor's chances for a road win go out the window.
Oklahoma 35 - ISU 20 - ISU leads 17-14 at half time and is only down 28-20 to start the 4th quarter, but a costly Josh Lenz fumble on a punt return gives OU great field position and the Belldozer punches one in and ISU never seriously threatens the rest of the way.
Texas 20 - ISU 10 - Not as close as it looks. ISU turns the ball over four times and gets a late score to make things look closer. Texas only attempts 14 passes and rushes for 285 yards.
ISU 27 - Kansas 23 - For the 3rd straight year, KU controls the first half in this series, leading 16-10 at the break, but the passing game picks up in the 2nd half when the running game can't get going and Jantz finishes his stellar day 24-33 for 291 yards and 3 TDs (no picks).
WVU 38 - ISU 30 - A wild first Riot Bowl. The Iowa State offense plays well, but a punt return TD by Tavon Austin and then a 60-yard bomb by Geno Smith to Stedman Bailey breaks open the game. ISU gets back into late with a score and then recovers the onside kick, but the drive stalls at the WVU 15 as Jantz's 4th down pass is just a little too high for Josh Lenz to reel in.
Final Record: 7-5 (4-5)
Jantz 59% completion, 2900 yards, 19 TDs 10 interceptions
Klein and Knott make first team Big 12. Farniok, Jacques Washington, Jake McDonough and Josh Lenz (special teams) make 2nd team.
Lenz is leading receiver with 54 catches for 678 yards and 3 TDs.
The rushing leaders are: White 812, Johnson 644, Woody 437, Jantz 302, Nealy 271
Tulsa - W - 28-24 - Offense is efficient but not outstanding and the defense has early season kinks to work out against veterans at the skill positions for Tulsa.
@Iowa - W - 21-17 - Rivalry games tend to err on the side of the defense and this one will be no different.
Western Illinois - W - 42-10 - WIU scored on average a little over once per game last season. Offense is again efficient and talent alone eats up large chunks of yards.
Texas Tech - W - 42-28 - Tech's offense will show up unlike in 2011 but the third defensive coordinator in three years will not allow the Red Raiders to keep pace. Plus their physicality has hardly ever been an issue in Tubberville's tenure and Rhoads knows this.
@TCU - L - 35-27 - TCU's offense is dangerous, their defense will still be working out kinks, and this is the first Big XII game in renovated Amon G. Carter stadium. Also this is a loss by virtue of my attendance.
Kansas State - W - 21-19 - Rhoads gets the Snyder monkey off his back in Jack Trice Staidum where no current Kansas State player has ever played.
@Oklahoma State - L - 35-31 - I don't believe in revenge games as motivation but I do believe that OSU still has more talent top to bottom and playing at home makes the difference.
Baylor - W - 31-10 - The Random Rhoads Rout Special of 2012. If Baylor makes the mistake of going full on Air Raid in 2012 they'll have hell to pay in late October in Jack Trice.
Oklahoma - L - 31-27 - Closer than anyone would predict prior to the season. Still very possible for this to be an upset.
@Texas - L - 24-10 - This game concerns me greatly. Iowa State has not played well under Rhoads in November and Texas could be a monster by this point.
@Kansas - W - 28-27 - Biggest trap game in Rhoads' tenure. Could be a loss by virtue of my attendance.
West Virginia - L - 42-40 - ISU's biggest offensive output of the season is not enough in Riot Bowl I. The en vogue upset pick of 2012 has a bit of a similar feeling to Missouri in 2011. Oh so close to the Cyclones having that breakout 8 win regular season.
Final Record: 7-5 (4-5)
vs. Tulsa - W 27-14 - Home field advantage is huge and a much improved offense hangs onto the ball with zero turnovers.
@ Iowa - W 17-10 - How the hell is Iowa going to score points this year? Knott and Klein have a huge day on defense and make Iowa's offense one dimensional.
vs. WIU - W 35-10 - The Leathernecks are not good.
BYE - Somehow ISU loses.
vs. Texas Tech - W 42-28 - Tubberville is CPR's bitch. No way this doesn't continue has Tech's defense still hasn't learned how stop the zone read.
@ TCU - L 31-17 - ISU walks into a bad brothel house as TCU's first Big 12 home game. Home field advantage is everything in college football.
vs Kansas State - W 24-21 - CPR has had this game circled all off-season and the wildcats FINALLY come to Ames. Jack Trice is packed as a ranked 4-1 KSU team battles 4-1 ISU under the lights on FX. Turnovers will be everything in the game and ISU plays a perfect game with a late field goal being the difference.
@ Oklahoma State - L 52-23 - ISU comes crashing back to reality as Wes Lunt makes ISU his bitch. Never mind the revenge factor and that it's in Stillwater too.
vs. Baylor - W 35-31 - The 2011 game between these two was much closer than the score indicated. Baylor still has a lot of talent on offense, but without the game changers on offense ISU is able to get the W and bowl eligibility.
vs Oklahoma - L 34-17 - An unbeaten OU team comes to Ames on upset alert, but who are we kidding, OU is freaking good. Really, really good. The CPR special is denied and ISU falls to 6-3.
@ Texas - L 21-10 - Is this the year Texas finally returns to being Texas? Probably, but a game in Austin is difficult even though ISU won in Austin in 2010.
@ Kansas - W 14-7 - IT'S A TRAP! 2010 Colorado anyone? A scary game in Lawrence, but ISU has more depth and talent as Kansas is struggling to get a conference win.
vs. West Virginia - L 35-34 - The first Riot bowl will have a ton of hype and an electric atmosphere, but Geno Smith is too much in this heartbreaker.
Final Record: 7-5 (4-5)
Tulsa, W: 28-24. Tulsa leads most of the way until Jantz pulls another miracle to Josh Lenz out of his ass.
@Iowa, W: 23-21. Back and forth game that ISU wins on a FG after Iowa plays far too conservative in the 4th quarter. Iowa fans start to hate Greg Davis.
Western Illinois, W: 38-14. Barnett gets to play a lot of the second half while Steele Jantz is out shopping for a new truck to sleep in.
Texas Tech, W: 45-37. Tuberville officially hates Rhoads.
@TCU, L: 35-21. At home in Fort Worth, TCU dominates most of the way. Pachall spends much of the 4th crafting new tin foil masks.
Kansas State, W: 23-20. After playing them tough in 2011, the Cyclones finally get to play Kansas State at Jack Trice for the first time since 2007 (seriously) and sneak out a win.
@Oklahoma State, L: 35-21. Wes Lunt has his breakout game and get revenge (sort of) for 2011.
Baylor, L: 42-38. Nick Florence steps in nicely for RG3 as both defenses falter.
Oklahoma, L: 35-20. OU is "down", but by midseason, Landry Jones has found chemistry with Big 12 newcomer of the year Trey Metoyer and take advantage of Iowa State's secondary having an off game.
@Texas, L: 20-13. Texas' defense is the difference here. Jantz looks like he's dead multiple times as Alex Okafor and Jackson Jeffcoat get into the backfield with regularity. Ash does just enough to win.
@Kansas, W: 34-14. Paul Rhoads reminds the team how close they came to losing to the Jayhawks last year, and this time, the team dominates KU like Charlie Weis dominates buffets.
West Virginia , L: 34-24. Without the magic of Joe Tessitore and Rod Gilmore in this game, the Cyclones lose the first Riot Bowl.
Final Record: 6-6 (3-6)
As you can see we all pick the Cyclones to beat Iowa in Kinnick for the first time in 10 years (bring on the hate Hawk fans). That game is as close to a toss up as we have had with Iowa in years, and home field advantage is always big in Iowa City, but one has to wonder how depth is going to affect the Hawkeyes in 2012.
Most of us are split on Oklahoma and West Virginia, and for good reason. West Virginia has become the en vogue upset pick for the Cyclones in 2012 and there are a lot of factors to be had before the teams square off in Riot Bowl I on November 23rd in Ames.
With Texas Tech, Kansas State, and Baylor all coming to Ames the reason for optimism is high with all three games likely to be toss ups and the Cyclones beginning to develop home field advantage in Jack Trice Stadium. Now are question to the fans: How optimistic are you for 2012 and where do you think the Cyclones will be at the end of the season? As always, leave your predictions in the comments.
Programming Note: The weekly preview of Iowa State's game will be moving to Thursday afternoon this season with a Big XII preview and NCAA Football 13 simulation for that week now appearing late Friday mornings. Be sure to visit and read in the fall!