Another thoroughly unscientific look at the weekend's opposition, with a few bonuses thrown in...
Numbers that won't mean anything on Saturday but are fun to look at nonetheless...
Iowa State 99th
Iowa State 50th
Iowa State 116th
Iowa State 92nd
Iowa State 81st
Iowa State 91st
Josh Freeman, 209/329, 2,174 yards, 11 TDs, 8 INTs
Jordy Nelson, 76 receptions, 1,008 yards, 7 TDs
James Johnson, 113 carries, 639 yards, 5.7 yards per carry, 8 TDs
Leon Patton, 67 carries, 309 yards, 4.4 yards per carry, 3 TDs
Bret Meyer, 196/317, 1,801 yards, 6 TDs, 11 INTs
R.J. Sumrall, 47 receptions, 411 yards, 0 TDs
Todd Blythe, 44 receptions, 544 yards, 3 TDs
J.J. Bass, 121 carries, 487 yards, 3.8 yards per carry, 4 TDs
There isn't really a whole lot of analysis I can do here. On paper, this is a total mismatch, and K-State should roll to a big win. But they won't play this game in my notebook, they'll play it in Ames, Iowa, at Jack Trice Stadium.
Again, the Cats face a team that is not strong running the ball, although freshman Alexander Robinson had a big game last weekend against Mizzou, going for 149 yards on a 7.1 per-carry average. If he's capable of repeating that performance, the Wildcat defense may be on its heels.
As usual, the key to the K-State defensive effort starts up front with getting pressure on Bret Meyer. Meyer has proven he's plenty capable of making mistakes this year, throwing 11 INTs, and the K-State defense is fourth in the nation with 14 INTs this year. The secondary needs to keep Blythe and Sumrall in check, and make the most of it when Meyer tries to force a few throws. From the chat with CrossCyed of Clone Chronicles this week, we know that Meyer doesn't throw the ball downfield much anymore. That means he'll be trying to fit some throws into tight spaces, inviting more interceptions.
What am I worried about in this game? Only that K-State won't show up focused and ready to play. Not to take anything away from Iowa State, but if K-State plays like it's capable of, the Cats will win this game. If they show up unfocused like they did last week against Baylor, they could find themselves in a hole early. Let's hope that halftime turnaround last week is a sign of things to come.
Iowa State fans have a wonderful sense of direction. Go "etatS awoI!"
Moving on to the rest of the conference...
Let's take a quick look at the conference games this week:
Nebraska @ KU (FSN 11:30 a.m.): KU comes into this game on an eight-game winning streak. Nebraska comes in on a four-game losing streak. Hey! I think I just made history! I doubt that combination of two sentences has ever been typed before! Bring me that 'best of' sportswriting award. Unlike some, I don't think KU can just name its score in this one, but it won't be close, either.
Civil War Terrorists 28, Disappearing Red Spot 7
Texas @ Oklahoma State (ABC 2:30 p.m.): Let's see. Nebraska's anemic running game limped into Austin and picked up 132 yards. Oklahoma State leads the conference in rushing, at 256 yards per game. I'm guessing the 'Horns will see a lot more of Dantrelle Savage than they'd like. Of course, the Okie State defense is particularly inept, so maybe Colt45 and the Texas offense can get something going. Can Jamaal Charles top his 290 rushing yards from last week?
Bright Orange 44, Burnt Orange 35
Missouri @ Colorado (FSN 5:30 p.m.): The Buffs managed to get off the mat last weekend in Lubbock, but they're still staggering from the one-two punch delivered by K-State and KU. Mizzou has shown no signs of its patented late-season collapse yet, and until last week appeared to be a team on a mission. Barring further evidence, I'm going to write off last week as a letdown.
Black & Gold East 38, Black & Gold West 17
Texas A&M @ Oklahoma (ABC 7:00 p.m.): I'm guessing most Aggie fans would prefer this game not be shown on TV. Bob Stoops claimed this week he won't be reminding his team of Dennis Franchione's summer crack about Sooners' summer job travails. Maybe he won't, but here's another thing I doubt he'll do: show any mercy. It may not be 77-0 bad, but that'll be little consolation to A&M faithful.
Land Larceny 56, Dead Coach Walking 10
Texas Tech @ Baylor (2:00 p.m.): Forget the over-under on points, I'm far more interested in the over-under on game length between the Air Bear and the Air Raid(er). I'm going to guess no less than 4:15. Here's one thing that's certain: it will be miserable all the way though for the boys from Baylor.
Pirates 49, Teddy Bears 18
I promised my conference rankings yesterday, and here they are. We're getting to the point of the season where there's quite a bit of consensus about these, but I feel compelled to make my opinion known anyway.
A week off last weekend prepares the Sooners for the crucial stretch run. Oklahoma is tied with intra-state rival Oklahoma State at 3-1, and will face the Cowboys the last weekend of the season. This week they get the staggerin' Aggies of Texas A&M. Bob Stoops generally has no mercy, but he may take particular pleasure in driving the last stake into comedian Dennis Franchione's heart.
The Tigers merely got by last weekend against Iowa State, and they'll have to bring better effort this weekend to Boulder. Mizzou still controls its own destiny in the North, but it needs to keep winning to maintain that status. This will be a difficult test against a Buffs team coming off a big win in Lubbock.
Remember the days when a Nebraska visit to Lawrence struck fear--or maybe indifference, since it's usually in November and the exciting basketball exhibition season is underway--into the hearts of 'beak fans everywhere? Not anymore. I went to the KU-NU game two years ago, and despite the 40-15 win, there was more scarlet than blue in the stadium. I'll be bird fans outnumber the corn this time around.
I left this team for dead about a month ago when it got run out of Troy, Ala., on a rail. The Pokes are back now, behind their coach--who is a man, and 40, by the way--and running back Dantrelle Savage. Okie State controls its own destiny in the South, can they maintain that status after this weekend's visit from Texas?
A dominating second half against Baylor more than made up for one of the ugliest, least-inspired first halves of football most K-Staters have ever had the displeasure of witnessing. A start like that would be exactly what Iowa State needs to get some confidence rolling, let's hope Ron Prince and the coaching staff have the guys ready to play.
I can't figure out why this team continues to rise in the rankings. They have defeated Iowa State, Baylor and Nebraska the last three weeks, and they didn't exactly look dominating in the latter of those two contests. But as they say, "They're Texas!" so I guess we shouldn't be surprised. Things will get much more interesting this weekend in Stillwater.
Great bounce-back win against Texas Tech last weekend to end a two-game losing streak. It doesn't get much easier this week when the Buffs matchup with Mizzou, although they do get to return home for the contest. Technically Colorado is still alive in the North race, but they have about as much chance of winning it as I do of qualifying for next year's Masters.
What is going on with this team? Just a few weeks ago, the Red Raiders waxed Texas A&M, were at the top of the South standings, and looked primed to take the next step. Now they're 2-3 in conference and have a brutal finishing stretch. Well, after this weekend, that is, when they take on Baylor.
Even Aggie fans have pretty much given this up as a lost cause. I know a few who are kind of hoping the team doesn't pull any major upsets and give Bill Byrne a reason to keep Fran around. They probably don't have to worry, as the Aggies finish with Oklahoma, Missouri and Texas.
I have to give Nebraska credit for showing up and giving Texas a tough game in Austin, but you just had that feeling of waiting for the other shoe to fall during most of that game. And fall it did, in spectacular fashion. Who knows where the Huskers go from here, other than the obvious trip to Lawrence to face gag undefeated KU. Some might say last week's game will give the team momentum to make a strong finish, I tend to think the loss coupled with the loss of Sam Keller will probably take the last wind out of the good ship Lil Red's sails.
Have the Cyclones bought into Gene Chizik's system and started to 'get it' these last two weeks, or have their good showings in two losses been more a result of the top two teams in the conference sleepwalking through games against a one-win team? Maybe it's both? I'm not a psychologist, so I have no idea. I just really hope they don't pick this week to jump up and bite someone.
Oh, woe is Baylor. This team is thoroughly, laughably inept. At least they have BearMeat.