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Monday Musings: Why the season is still salvageable


AMES — The last seven days represented as negative of a week as I remember around the Cyclone Nation in quite some time. That was especially the case here on our forums at CycloneFanatic.com. For the record, I don’t blame you guys (and gals, of course) for being upset. You don’t care how many FCS teams beat FBS teams in week one of the college football season. You don’t like losing to UNI, nor should you. You feel like in the year 2013, a loss like that is unacceptable for Iowa State football.

(Please feel free to interrupt me if you feel like I am misrepresenting you but I doubt that is the case.)

But week one is long gone. My favorite and least favorite (for different reasons) week of the year is here. Cy-Hawk week is upon us.

How about this? How about you let me, let you, in on a little bit of positive chatter on this steamy Monday afternoon in central Iowa? Will you step out of that dark bottle of negativity for just five minutes to hear me out?

All of that worst-case scenario junk you’ve read (and probably dished out) over the last week is opinion and nothing more. If your cynical buddy told you that Iowa State wouldn’t win more than two games this season, that is his opinion. He doesn’t actually know that though. Other than the always-humble Phil Steele (in his own mind of course), nobody can actually predict the future in the world of college football. Nobody.

I’ve got a fact for you.

If Iowa State, a three-point underdog, can find a way to beat its in-state rival on Saturday, the Cyclones’ season could be salvaged (I want to point out that I am strongly emphasizing the word could). I realize that is a loaded declaration, but it is indeed a fact.

But should that occur, it has to start with Saturday’s battle for the Pewter Family, I mean, the Cy-Hawk Trophy. If Iowa State loses on Saturday, well, then we’ll all deal with that next Sunday.

So how in the world can an Iowa State team that UNI made look downright bad salvage this thing you ask?

It’s pretty simple really. Just look at the schedule.

As even Vegas has pointed out, Iowa is a very winnable football game (Kirk Ferentz is 6-8 vs. the Cyclones in his career). Tulsa appears to be a very, very, beatable football team two weeks into the season. The Golden Hurricane were embarrassed by Bowling Green in week one and edged out an average Colorado State team by three on Saturday. It’s on the road and it will be a significant challenge, but that’s a winnable football game for Paul Rhoads’ Cyclones.

After that, have you watched any Big 12 football so far this season? If you have, this will make complete and total sense to you. 

Oklahoma State is a justifiable top 10 team. I still like TCU to be a contender to win the league and Baylor looks like the 1999 St. Louis Rams through two weeks (although they really haven’t been tested either). 

After that though…

Texas just gave up over 500 yards of RUSHING to BYU, lost, and fired its defensive coordinator the next day (a move that spews desperation). After last weekend, Oklahoma’s quarterback situation is more of a mess than it has ever been. Kansas State is a shade of the team that it was a year ago. Texas Tech is good (and probably better than you thought they were going to be) but certainly not great. Kansas is Kansas. West Virginia’s soap opera is just getting started (consider this the beginning of the end for Dana Holgerson).

Smell what I’m cooking?

There are a LOT of winnable football games left out there for not just Iowa State, but every program in the Big 12.

Prediction: The Big 12 football season is going to be exactly what we all thought it would be back in June. That’s an immense slugfest full of run of the mill teams that beat each other up on a weekly basis.

This would have seemed crazy to me last Monday, but after watching an array of Big 12 games over the weekend, please explain to me why Iowa State can’t win four league games for the first time?

Now the kicker here is that Iowa State has to rebound and prove to everybody that its season opening loss to UNI was a fluke and not actually the team that we all saw inside of a sold out Jack Trice Stadium.

I’m sure parts of that game were a fluke. Others were not. It’s like Paul Rhoads always says, “Things are never as good or bad as they seem.” But as I wrote about in Musings last week, how will this team bounce back? That will dictate how the season unfolds. 

I say this… 

It’s Sept. 9. Month after month after month after month, you wait for college football season to begin. Before the UNI game, Iowa State fans had every reason in the world to be optimistic about the future. Sold out season tickets. New facilities. Improved recruiting.

After one game, you really don’t want to write this thing off already do you?

Enjoy your Cy-Hawk week. For once, it might actually be quite pleasant. Neither fan base has any right at all to be cocky. 

Silence. That’s what I’m hearing from both fan bases at this time. However, as it normally does, I suspect that will likely change as Saturday nears.