Athlon projects Cyclones to return to postseason in 2023

It is that time of year again.

The preseason magazines have hit the shelves and it’s time to react to other people’s preseason college football predictions two and a half months before we’ll have any idea how accurate those predictions are.

I went out and grabbed a copy of Athlon so that we can go through this thing together to find mentions of the Cyclones and give some thoughts on the perceived bad takes at this point in the offseason.

*** First things first, Iowa State comes in at No. 56 in Athlon’s preseason rankings of 1-133. The magazine projects the Cyclones to finish 6-6 (4-5 Big 12) and play in the Independence Bowl against Southern Miss.

*** One of my favorite exercises this magazine does on an annual basis is the position unit rankings by conference. This year is no different, but the writers of this year’s magazine came to a somewhat shocking conclusion.

Athlon ranks Iowa State’s quarterbacks as the No. 10 group in the league. The running backs and wide receivers both come in at No. 12. The offensive line is ranked No. 13 while the defensive line and linebackers are No. 10 and the defensive backs are No. 3.

That lands Iowa State with an average position group ranking of No. 10.

The shocking part of this is where Athlon ranks Texas’ position groups, which is No. 1, for all of them. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen that before in a preseason magazine, and I’ve been looking at these things since I could read.

You mean to tell me there isn’t one position group in the entire league better than the room Texas has? I find that hard to believe considering the Longhorns’ recent success level.

*** In the rankings of the best conferences, the Big 12 comes in at No. 4 behind the SEC, Big Ten and Pac-12.

*** Here is the magazine’s projected order of finish in the Big 12 and their projected records:

  1. Texas (11-2, 8-1)
  2. Oklahoma (8-4, 6-3)
  3. Kansas State (8-4, 6-3)
  4. TCU (8-4, 5-4)
  5. Texas Tech (7-5, 5-4)
  6. Kansas (7-5, 4-5)
  7. Baylor (7-5, 4-5)
  8. Oklahoma State (7-5, 4-5)
  9. UCF (6-6, 4-5)
  10. Iowa State (6-6, 4-5)
  11. BYU (6-6, 4-5)
  12. Houston (6-6, 3-6)
  13. Cincinnati (5-7, 3-6)
  14. West Virginia (4-8, 3-6)

Parity, parity and more parity. I mean, what else do you expect from a league where every position group is dominated by one school? You apparently end up with a bunch of middle of the road teams that just beat the crap out of each other on a weekly basis.

I’d have the check the math on how all of this adds up, but 12 of the 14 Big 12 schools being bowl eligible seems good. Is that good?

*** Iowa State has three guys on the magazine’s preseason All-Big 12 team with cornerback T.J. Tampa earning a second-team nod while wide receiver Jaylin Noel and linebacker Gerry Vaughn received third-team honors.

*** One of the best and most enlightening parts of the magazine on a yearly basis is the portion when opposing coaches are asked to talk about their opponents in an anonymous fashion. Here’s what an anonymous Big 12 coach had to say about Iowa State:

“They have discipline; they get after you and you have to play a perfect game. They’re hard to beat that way. Obviously, they’re not as athletic as most teams, and they can’t beat you one on one. That’s not a knock because if they were just chasing talent, they wouldn’t be successful at a place like this… They obviously weren’t good on offense, and they don’t have the weapons to plug in, but when you consider how many changes [Matt Campbell] made to the staff, it’s obvious they want to get it right and build it back up… They held on to the QB [four-star recruit J.J. Kohl] in that recruiting class; that was huge for them. They do a really good job identitfying their guys early on, and they’re smart with their evaluations. No one thinks he’s trying to do anything quick and get out of there.”

Man, this straddled the line between being digs and being compliments, but that’s what coaches do. Luckily, we only have to wait 80 more days until it is all settled on the football field.

Jared Stansbury


Jared a native of Clarinda, Iowa, started as the Cyclone Fanatic intern in August 2013, primarily working as a videographer until starting on the women’s basketball beat prior to the 2014-15 season. Upon earning his Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from Iowa State in May 2016, Jared was hired as the site’s full-time staff writer, taking over as the primary day-to-day reporter on football and men’s basketball. He was elevated to the position of managing editor in January 2020. He is a regular contributor on 1460 KXNO in Des Moines and makes regular guest appearances on radio stations across the Midwest. Jared resides in Ankeny with his four-year-old puggle, Lolo.