In a surprise to most of rabid Cyclone fans across the Heartland, Iowa State has been selected as the third best team in the Big 12.
That’s third, as in a top three best team in the conference.
In any other season this would be a shock and awe moment for Iowa State football but in a year coming off big regular season wins and even a heartbreaking bowl loss, this almost feels cathartic for Cyclone Nation. It’s unfamiliar territory but also, seems as though people agree — This is a team that is ready to make the leap up and into real relevancy.
Sure, for years we had moments, we had flashes in the pan and quick strikes of success. But this is different, this is validation of what Matt Campbell and Company (my cover band name) have worked so hard towards and have preached since day one — “Why not us? Why not right now?”
This is Iowa State’s highest pre-season standing in the poll since being picked to finish second in the Big 12 North in 2005 and 2006.
By most accounts Iowa State is being noting high praise for it’s offensive line this season. The Cyclones return a veteran line group lead by four seniors and one stand out freshman in Colin Newell.
Returning for his sophomore campaign after a break out rookie year is Brock (Purrrrrrrrrdy Good) Purdy. The second year starter from Arizona looks to build upon the big year he had a season ago in what is hopefully spectacular fashion.
On the defensive side of the ball, Iowa State is anchored by two stars in Jaquan Bailey and Ray Lima. The second wave of defense however is what a lot of people will be looking to in checking to see for a leap. Mike Rose, the freshman sensation from a year ago will have a chance to show Cyclone Nation what exactly he’s all about and if he can take a leap up. Next to him will be another stand out in Marcel Spears. Spears being one of the best linebackers in the Big 12 a season ago and my personal favorite to watch this season.
For most of us patiently counting down until kick off (just eight more Saturdays left to go) this is a huge boost in confidence for what was already a season with high expectations. Everything so far looks like it’s coming together for what could be a more memorable campaign than 2018.
(Writers note, Vegas currently has Iowa State’s over 8 wins at +100. That’s free money at that point.)