We're just going to kick the tires on the Iowa State Cyclones, not kick the Clones while they're down. Promise.
Despite a 3-9 season last year, Iowa State built momentum late with a 34-0 win over KU and a triple-overtime victory over West Virginia. Thanks to KU's impressive dedication to failure, the Cyclones weren't predicted to finish last in the Big 12 this year. With a little luck, bowl eligibility wasn't completely out of the question.
But it is now. Despite jumping out to a 14-0 lead, the Cyclones yielded 34 unanswered points to North Dakota State. Worse, the NDSU offensive and defensive lines mauled Iowa State, bowling their way to 302 rushing yards and sacking quarterback Sam B. Richardson four times.
Let's note again that, like last year, NDSU is very possibly among the 30 or 40 best teams in the country this year. Losing to the Bison isn't the end of the world. But NDSU dominated almost three-fourths of this game. The Cyclones gained only 253 yards and Richardson netted an atrocious 4.3 yards per pass attempt after adjusting for sacks. As a team, Iowa State averaged only 3.9 yards per rush attempt. Woof.
Players to Watch
Passing: Jake Waters, 19-28-1, 223 yards, 7.96 yards/attempt, 2 TDs, 223 yards/game
Rushing: Charles Jones, 8 carries, 55 yards, 6.9 yards/carry, 2 TDs, 55 yards/game
Receiving: DeMarcus Robinson, 4 receptions, 47 yards, 11.8 yards/reception, 0 TDs, 47 yards/game
Passing: Sam B. Richardson, 20-31-2, 151 yards, 4.87 yards/attempt, 0 TDs, 151 yards/game
Rushing: Aaron Wimberly, 9 carries, 39 yards, 4.2 yards/carry, 2 TDs, 39 yards/game
Receiving: Dondre Daley, 5 receptions, 32 yards, 6.4 yards/reception, 0 TDs, 32 yards/game
The quarterbacks are actually the leading rushers for both teams -- which is pretty sad in Iowa State's case -- but I went with the running backs above. K-State's leading wide receiver is the pride of Louisburg, Kan., one Kody Cook, with 44 yards and a touchdown on three receptions.
Notably, Iowa State's best receiver from last year, Quenton Bundrage, is out for the season. Bundrage averaged 14.1 yards per reception last year and was easily ISU's best big-play threat, demonstrated by his 97-yard touchdown reception against Texas. Other injury news for ISU was better, as center Tom Farniok is expected to play Saturday, but starting right tackle Jacob Gannon has left the team.
K-State Advanced Stats
Offensive S&P+: 6th
Defensive S&P+: 99th
Iowa State Advanced Stats
Offensive S&P+: 54th
Defensive S&P+: 120th
These numbers are admittedly sketchy this early in the year. There aren't enough data points yet. While there is reason for optimism after the opener, an overall rating somewhere around 25th-35th isn't that far off just based on the numbers. K-State is probably better than 99th in defense, but yielding 225 passing yards to SFA isn't setting the world on fire.
This will likely be a game where DeMarcus Robinson and Charles Jones get a lot of carries. K-State ran the ball 46 times in 68 plays against Iowa State last year and rolled up 227 rushing yards. With Tyler Lockett's status still in question, Bill Snyder will likely try to beat the Cyclones on the ground if possible.
We love our Farmalliance friends over at Wide Right Natty Lite, but this is probably Iowa State's worst team since I started blogging in 2007. If K-State plays like it did against SFA last week, and the Cyclones don't improve markedly over last weekend's performance, this should be an easy win for K-State.
K-State 49, Iowa State 17