A few days away from kickoff, AllCyclones.com writers Alex Halsted and Trey Scott realized they hadn't put any predictions on paper for this season. What transpired was a late-night Gchat.
Trey: OK, Alex, most of our subscribers are probably sleeping, but we can't. It's football season. Let's start off with some predictions on the season and see how it goes from there. It's 12:18 a.m. now, and I want to be in bed by 12:35
I'm thinking the Cyclones go 6-6. I just feel like they'll get there, looking at the schedule. Six wins is attainable. You?
Alex: Who needs sleep? I'm going with 5-7 with the distinct possibility that the team will pull a Paul Rhoads Upset or make a clean sweep of the final four games of the season to get bowl eligible.
Trey: I'm a big Paul Rhoads guy. I'll disagree with a few things he does — small things, like freakin' about Allen Lazard on Signing Day — but he does a lot with lesser talent (and the talent's getting better ...). In baseball terms, he's got a good WAR. I don't think ISU beats West Virginia last season, coming back down so much, without him on the sideline. I'd have given up
So now you have Mark Mangino ... he's good for a win or two, right? Especially if it looks like he's found his QB. Alex, you saw Sam Richardson when he was at his best in 2012. And you saw him last year, too. What's the difference between the two versions?
Alex: I was in Kansas for Richardson's debut, and it look as if he'd be the quarterback of the future. He was mobile, efficient and made the passes he needed to. Last season, nobody saw Richardson at his best. It would be interesting to know how many plays he even played healthy. He wasn't nearly as able to move and his efficiency obviously wasn't there.
I think he sticks as the starter this season, though, and in Mangino's offense excels. What do you think, Does Rohach unseat him again?
Trey: I think it's kinda funny if he has two "pretty good" seasons, he'll probably pass Bret Meyer in ISU's career TD record books
Trey:Iowa State REALLY doesn't want to get into another QB controversy. Richardson will have a long leash. Rohach is there. My thinking is, if Richardson gets hurt in a game, Rohach is the guy. But if it's November, and Iowa State isn't good, and Richardson's just not where he should be ... then you turn it over to Joel Lanning and do this whole thing again. I'd like to see Sam get through all 12, obviously
Trey:The team, while the understanding was Richardson was the MUCH better QB in the latter half of fall camp, did feel some sadness for Grant Rohach. You couldn't meet a nicer guy than Grant. You'd hope he has another shot to do this whole ISU QB thing, but any reasonable Iowa State fan needs to be hoping he doesn't see the field this seasonOK, best offensive player?
Trey:Why haven't you said E.J. Bibbs yet? What's going on with you!Don't say Farniok. Dammit, Alex, don't say Farniok (I like Tom Farniok. But it's Bibbs!)
Alex: That's a tough one, especially with the talent on this season's roster. I'm going with E.J. Bibbs, though. He had 39 catches for nearly 500 yards last season and will eclipse that this year most likely.As Sam Richardson told us, Bibbs is a guy that's playing at the next level.
Trey:Yeah, he's an NFL guy. Bundrage as well, if he gets more consistent catching the footballGive me your breakout player on defense
Alex: Seems tough to nail down one with so much unproven talent, but I'm going to go Alton Meeks. Wally has been really high on him, and there's a reason he stuck it out through fall camp to win the battle.
Trey:best linebacker you saw in college: Klein, Knott or George?
Alex: I say A.J. Klein, but the NFL success may be influencing that.
Trey:Yeah that makes sense ... speaking of George, he led ISU in tackles last season. I'm going to predict T.J. Mutcherson holds that honor this year. Usually it'll be a middle linebacker, but I don't know what ISU's got for sure in Meeks, who could be playing some SAM. I think Mutcherson, the strong safety, will be everywhere
Kind of an unconventional choice — usually the safety to do that would be the free, the centerfielder guy — but that's my prediction. And I'm leaving town, anyway, so who cares?
Alex: Speaking of leaving town, what's the best road trip Iowa State fans can make this season?
Trey:Austin, Texas, baby
There's no debate.
But for a shorter trip, get to Stillwater! I did that once in college. Was so much fun
I was a sophomore when Iowa State waltzed into Austin in 2010 and toppled Texas. And I was very confused about it all
Alex: I covered my first road game in Stillwater and it was cool stadium and atmosphere. Personally, I think this season shapes up well for fans. They get seven home games and two very drivable ones to Iowa City and Lawrence, Kan.
Trey:That Iowa City game is going to be wild. Besides Kansas, which road game do you see the Cyclones with the best chance of winning?
Alex: I think TCU. For one, they should theoretically be playing their best football in Game 12. And, maybe it's to make a bowl game is the season goes well.
Trey:That's true, and TCU hasn't been good at home in the Big 12
Alex: What's the best shot at an upset, which seems to come each season under Rhoads?
Trey:OK, right now I'm going to say Texas Tech, but I'd say Texas if David Ash is any sort of injured come October
Most unlikely upset? Baylor or OU?
Alex: Has to be Oklahoma, right?
Trey:Yeah. There's just no way
Alex: Oklahoma always seems to play Iowa State well, and this season they're a force to be reckoned with.
Trey:OK. Scenario. You, Alex Halsted, have full control over the gameday enviro at JTS this fall. What song do the Cyclones run out of the tunnel to? Or, I guess, what's the song that plays in their pump-up reel?And do you do away with the tornado siren?
Alex: I think I keep the siren because people seem to like it... As for a song...
Trey:You're taking a long time. That's fine. I'll go: Lorde's Glory and Gore. Have you heard this song? It's so badass.
I told a player that at a camp this summer and they just stared at me, though
Alex: I just loaded it up on YouTube. Never heard it. Would be an interesting choice.
Trey: What's one thing you think every fan should be paying attention to this fall?
Alex: Progress. I think it's clear the big thing this season it taking a step forward, and that doesn't happen overnight. A lot of fans are optimistic, and that's a good thing, but if you expect seven wins and it doesn't happen, it's not a lost cause. This season is about a step in the right direction.
Trey: I like that answer. I've somehow talked myself into thinking this is a bowl team. The odds say it isn't, but keep the kool-aid comin.'