Take a deep breath, the gauntlet is about to begin. The start of the 2013 season has been as disjointed as any I can remember. As we near the end of September, it still doesn’t feel as if the season has begun. For one, Iowa State is winless. The Cyclones are 0-2 for just the second time since 1997. That Sunday morning, drank too much last night, sick-to-your stomach hunger is warranted. The new legion of Cyclone fans are not accustomed to having a donut in the win column and the harsh, panicked reactions have followed.
That is only part of the festering discontent. The stuck in traffic, on again, off again schedule has severely limited the flow of the 2013 season. Sixty-seven college football teams have played four games already. Iowa State has played two. The Cyclones and Navy are the only two programs in Division 1 to have only played two games. We all knew this was going to be the case prior to the season, but having your two bye weeks in September has been bizarre.
I was at a drinking establishment this weekend in Minneapolis taking in the college football games on Saturday afternoon. A couple things struck me: 1. Nebraska fans are inescapable. Our table was surrounded by Huskers and they were dementedly into the South Dakota State game. This one woman was acting as if the Jack Rabbits were the ’95 Florida State Seminoles, every play could have won or lost a championship. Bo Pelini might have been onto something.
The other thing that kept pestering me was the placid nature of the day. It was really hard to get fired up about any of the games. Non-conference football when Iowa State has a bye is horrendously boring. It felt like the Cyclones were the kid sitting alone in the corner at the Homecoming dance. Can’t we get a little action? It has all added up to be a very uncomfortable month. It is tough to move on when negative memories are all you have.
Finally, the fits and starts of September are behind us. The Cyclones play real, live football for 10 straight weeks. Hopefully the offense gets into a similar rhythm. Through two games, Iowa State’s offense has gone three and out in seven of their 25 drives (28 percent). To put that in perspective, the offensive bonanza that is Baylor, has had ZERO three and outs in 50 drives! Now comparing anything to the Baylor offense is unfair at the moment; it’s not even a video game offense at Baylor, because no computer could ever operate at that efficiency. But still, it goes to show the level of offense that is in store for the Cyclones. Simply put, 20 points per game is not going to hold up.
It’s been a long 11 days since the Iowa game. The mood swings in the fan-base are at a Breaking Bad level. The fatalists have emerged from the abyss, using the 0-2 start as a talking point spring-board to the end of the world. While others are holding on to the hope that a young team can only improve in a down year for the Big 12 conference. The trajectory of this team is still an unknown; is the frustrating performance of the offense a product of surface-level injuries? Or is the issue require a deeper fix than a band-aid and some rehab? Can Iowa State stop the run with their undersized front seven? All riddles that are no clearer than they were in August.
The wrangling and back and forth conversation has been downright political. Factions of fans split down party lines. With the lack of games, endless chatter is all we have. Thankfully, every week from now until Thanksgiving there is a game to be played. It can finally feel like football season again.
This Cyclone team still has a story to write; the first chapters were a nightmare, but no matter the outcome, there is plenty left to find out. Enough chatter, time for football.