Sunday, August 3, 2008

Cyclones Football '08: Another Just Circle One Game Year for ISU?

It's not likely coming from 2nd year coach Gene Chizik. As a defensive coordinator, Chizik helped lead Auburn (2004) and Texas (2005) to championship level football. But, that was prior to accepting the ISU head coaching position, after the '06 season.

The average ISU graduate you talk to or by listening to marketing guru AD Jamie Pollard, just circle The One Game (September 13th) is alive and well in Ames. For ISU fans in '08, it's clearly back to a one game season, again.

What else does Iowa State University have to play for in football? There last conference title in football was in 1912, when ISU and Nebraska won co-championships in back to back years (1911 and 1912) in the old Missouri Valley Conference. They play in the Big 12 rich ($$$) conference lead by Texas and Oklahoma.

In the Big 12, you have plenty of outstanding rivalry games. But, for Iowa State, as one ISU graduate commented last night at a friend's 50th birthday party,

"we beat Nebraska once every 15 years."
But, it's all about The One Game. As AD Pollard pointed out in Cedar Rapids at a recent Rotary Club meeting, ISU has won 7 out of the last 10 games vs. ISU's one and only rival. Do they make it eight out of 11 in '08?

Last year, Iowa State was 3-9 (2-6 in the Big 12) in Chizik's first year. For 2008 and for the one big game, ISU returns 15 starters. But, there are keys losses, such as QB Bret Meyer, WR Todd Blythe, DT Ahtybe Rubin, LB Alvin Bowen, LB Jon Banks, and PK Bret Culbertson. As one media outlet mentioned coming out of ISU's Media Day,

"competition keen in Cyclone camp... does Iowa State have any stone-cold,
lead-pipe locks this year? At any position?"
The Cyclones will have two tune up games in Ames ahead of The One Game, this season. Another Thursday opener for ISU to open the season. ISU will open August 28th at home vs. South Dakota State, a FCS program. On September 6th, the Cyclones will host Kent State at Jack Trice Stadium for a little payback? ISU lost 14-23 to Kent State to open the '07 season.

Iowa State has lost two straight on the road in it's lone rivalry game: The One Game. The last win on the road came in 2002, in a fantastic 36-31 win in the series, after ISU overcame a 17 point halftime deficit. No big surprise, since the Cyclones had won 4 straight in the series. The 2002 season win was the third straight on the road in The One Game; and first and only five game win streak in the series.

The final OOC game will be on the road on September 20th, at UNLV, the Cyclones will close the month of September with a bye week on September 27th. The Cyclones will play another eight game schedule in the Big 12 to close the 2008 regular season. The Cyclones drop the three preseason Top 25 Big 12 South opponents (OU, Texas and Texas Tech) for the three unranked Big 12 South opponents (at Baylor, Texas A&M, at Oklahoma State). Big 12 North Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri will all visit Jack Trice Stadium, while ISU travels to Colorado and Kansas State, after ISU beat both opponents in back to back Big 12 home games in '07.

A winning season will be determined on September 13th in the State of Iowa for most in the Cyclone fanbase. For Coach Chizik and those interested in seeing ISU get back to competing for a Big 12 North division title: four wins or more would be a big next step for the program. ISU nearly changed the mindset under former coach Dan McCarney in '04 and '05, but failed. McCarney's best overall season was in 2000, but the best two finishes for ISU in the Big 12 were in '04 and '05.

Of course, to the average Cyclone grad or fan, one game is circled, again, and it is hard to see that changing this season in Ames. What this program needs most is moving The One Game to the end of the season for it's fan base and the State of Iowa, in general.


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