Monday Musings

After yet another tough loss for the Cyclones our publisher is running out of new things to say. Nonetheless, he still believes that despite the recent struggles there are reasons for optimisn in the future.

Another week, another loss for Iowa State to a ranked team.

That makes it 10 losses in their last 13 games for the struggling Cyclones. The average margin of defeat in those games is a whopping 28.5 points per game. The combined record of the last 10 teams to beat Iowa State – at the time they played the Cyclones – is 64-13. Seven of those games were on the road.

No team in America, not even Oklahoma and Miami, could go through a stretch like that unscathed. That's not to make excuses, it's simply a fact.

But that doesn't provide absolution, either. Only SMU scored fewer points this season against Texas Tech's one of the worst in the nation defenses. ISU surrendered an NCAA-record 45 first downs. Think about that number for a second. 45 first downs in one game! ISU has 94 first downs this season, and the Red Raiders got nearly half of that in one game. In fact, the Cyclones have given up 105 points and 80 first downs in just the last two weeks.

I personally believe in Dan McCarney and I personally believe in his program, otherwise I wouldn't be publishing CN because I am certainly not a lifelong ISU fan that lives and dies with the Cyclones. Mac is great for this state, and a true molder of men.

However, die-hard fans have a right to be frustrated to a certain extent because not everything can be blamed on injuries and the schedule. The Cyclones are continually overmatched at the line of scrimmage. They can't protect the quarterback, they can't consistently run the football, and they can't consistently stop the run. The effort is there, but they are simply not as physical as the teams they are playing against.

At CN we've gotten a glimpse of the future of ISU football and we believe Cyclone fans should be excited about that. However, the Church of What's Happening Now proclaims the Cyclones are just overmatched where it counts the most, up front. This offseason, let's hope the young players dedicate themselves to Coach Getty's strength and conditioning program and developing their technique, because playing in the Big 12 isn't going to get any easier in the near future.

Call me crazy

I actually think the Cyclones have a chance this week against Texas.

Sure, the Cyclones don't have a single player that was offered a scholarship by the always-talented Longhorns. However, Texas is soft and has to be doubting itself after actually playing worse against #1 Oklahoma than ISU did a week prior. Giving up 65 points to your biggest rival on national television will do that to you.

Previously, it was always Chris Simms' fault. Well, the Burnt Orange don't have tricky dick to kick around anymore. There is something embedded in this program that lacks heart, because over the years Texas hasn't been able to find a challenge it wasn't willing to back down to.

The Homecoming atmosphere should provide the Cyclones with enough emotion, despite the recent slump. Plus, ISU seems to play the Longhorns tough. I'm not outright predicting the upset, I'm just saying that I think this is ISU's best shot at a win before Colorado visits on November 15th.

Quarterback Controversy?

First of all, let me reiterate that I am an Austin Flynn fan. I think he – along with Bret Meyer – is the future of the program. I like his overall athleticism, toughness, and – most of all – his chutzpah.

Nonetheless, Mac made the right move replacing Flynn with Cris Love against Texas Tech. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and clearly the offense was struggling with Flynn at the helm. Flynn is just a redshirt freshman, and giving him some time on the sidelines to readjust his thinking and see some of the things the coaches are seeing is a good move.

In fact, I would start Love this week against Texas but play Flynn every few series as a change-of-pace and develop an offensive package just for him. That doesn't mean I think Love is the answer to what ails ISU, because he isn't. ISU's record wouldn't be any different right now if Love had started in place of Flynn.

However, Love may give the Cyclones, and their talented group of receivers, a better chance to take advantage of a Texas secondary that plays a lot of man-to-man coverage.

Cyclone Tip-off this Saturday at Hilton

I'm eager to get over to Hilton Coliseum this weekend after the football game to get my first glimpse of Wayne Morgan's program at the Cyclone Tip-off.

I'm especially eager to get a glance at Will Blalock, who has been generating a lot of buzz with Hilton insiders since he arrived on campus this summer. Blalock dunks the ball easily at 5 feet 11 inches tall, and Coach Morgan actually looked me in the eye and told me Blalock reminds him of Allen Iverson because of his explosive first step.

We just completed our men's basketball preview, and after reviewing the publication I definitely believe there is reason for optimism this winter. The Cyclones will be more athletic than they were last season, and – as Jake Sullivan said earlier this year – look for ISU hoops to be fun again.

Top 25

My ranking of the top teams in college football this week. As you'll see, there is a lot of volatility in the poll after "Separation Saturday."

  1. Oklahoma (6-0)…Looked scary good against Texas. Can't wait to see that Sooner defense against B.J. Symons and Texas Tech later on this season, but the only way OU loses a game this year is if Jason White gets hurt.
  2. Miami, Fla. (6-0)…Give credit to the way the Hurricanes rose to the occasion after being an underdog for the first time in four years. However, I still don't think Brock Berlin without Frank Gore gives them enough offense to make it to the national title game for a third straight year.
  3. Virginia Tech (6-0)…The Hokies still haven't been tested, but their offense is explosive and the special teams – as usual – are phenomenal. Plus, they get Miami in Blacksburg.
  4. Georgia (5-1)…Dude, you just don't march into Knoxville and put a 41-14 hammering on Tennessee. Apparently the ‘Dawgs aren't ready to surrender their SEC title just yet.
  5. USC (5-1)…They may win the Pac-10, but don't think the Trojans are back in the national title race just yet. They should be on upset alert this week heading to South Bend against a suddenly rejuvenated Notre Dame squad.
  6. Washington State (5-1)…How good are the Cougars? We'll find out later this month when they play Oregon State and USC back-to-back.
  7. Michigan State (6-1)…The frontrunner for National Coach of the Year right now has to be John L. Smith. The Spartans have the best quarterback in the Big Ten and lead the conference with 30 sacks.
  8. Iowa (5-1)…The Hawkeyes are rested, healthy, and hungry heading into Columbus this week for a Big Ten showdown game one year too late.
  9. Wisconsin (6-1)…Extra credit for ending the defending national champ's 19-game winning-streak with a backup quarterback and backup tailback.
  10. Ohio State (5-1)…The Buckeyes aren't out of the national title picture just yet if they can run the table, but given their anemic offense that will be a tall order. They're a better bet for the Outback Bowl than the BCS.
  11. Florida State (5-1)…Insult-to-injury: not only are the Seminoles not back to their dominating ways of lore, but their seniors will leave Tallahassee without ever having defeated the Hurricanes.
  12. LSU (5-1)…Injury-to-insult: the Tigers are now down to their third-string tailback after losing Shyrone Carey and Joseph Addai to sprained MCL's the past two weeks. So much for that national title talk in Baton Rouge.
  13. Arkansas (4-1)…Losing at home to re-surging Auburn isn't a disgrace. Only scoring three points and running a quarterback draw from deep in your own territory with eight seconds left is.
  14. Missouri (5-1)…The REAL black-shirts played offense for the Tigers, who rolled to 452 yards of total offense and 41 points against the nation's allegedly top-ranked defensive unit.
  15. Northern Illinois (6-0)…The undefeated Huskies next face Bowling Green in the biggest MAC game in October in recent memory. Is it time to start giving Michael Turner some Heisman love?
  16. Auburn (4-2)…Forget what happened a month ago. The Tigers now have two straight wins over teams ranked in the top 10 at the time. They belong here, and if defense wins championships they will have a say in who wins the SEC title.
  17. Nebraska (5-1)…Still running the option out of the I-formation when down by two touchdowns, the Husker offense is embarrassingly inadequate when playing from behind.
  18. Michigan (5-2)…Scored 31 points in the fourth quarter at Minnesota in a comeback for the ages, the Wolverines may score 31 points in the first quarter this week against lowly Illinois.
  19. Oklahoma State (5-1)…Thanks to the Cowboys, we can thank the K-State Wildcats for participating in this year's Big 12 championship quest. If it wasn't for one bad half at Nebraska in the season-opener, they'd be in the top five right now.
  20. Bowling Green (5-1)…The Falcons will knock Northern Illinois from the ranks of the nation's undefeated next week.
  21. Purdue (5-1)…It's the Boilermakers vs. the Badgers for first place in the Big Ten this week. Can Southeast Polk's Kyle Orton win a big game on the road?
  22. TCU (6-0)…The Horned Frogs have a solid program, but you don't move up in this poll by beating South Florida and UAB, their opponent next week.
  23. Oregon State (5-1)…Got a week off to get ready for a Washington team that looks like it's called it a season after losing at home to Nevada.
  24. Texas Tech (5-1)…The explosive Red Raiders now go on the road for consecutive games at Oklahoma State and Missouri.
  25. Minnesota (6-1)…When was the last time a team rushed for over 400 yards in a game and still lost? Gophers need to regroup in a hurry because Michigan State comes to town this week.

Out: #11 Texas, #14 Tennessee, #18 Pittsburgh, #21 Kansas State, #25 Virginia.

Honorable mention: #26 Texas (4-2), #27 Tennessee (4-2), #28 Air Force (6-1), #29 Utah (5-1), #30 Miami of Ohio (5-1).

My Heisman ballot

The top five players this week in the race for the most prestigious individual award in American team sports.

  1. Jason White (QB-Oklahoma)…Overcoming personal adversity (two serious knee injuries) + Statistics + Guiding the nation's top-ranked team almost always = Heisman Trophy.
  2. B.J. Symons (QB-Texas Tech)…Should continue to roll up mind-boggling numbers the next two weeks against Oklahoma State and Missouri, since neither squad has a great defense.
  3. Jeff Smoker (QB-Michigan State)…Easily the Big Ten Player of the Year right now and the most compelling human interest story in the sport.
  4. Steven Jackson (RB-Oregon State)…Despite a bye week he's still the second-leading rusher in the nation.
  5. Larry Fitzgerald (WR-Pittsburgh)…Loss to Notre Dame wasn't his fault – he scored both of the Panthers' touchdowns – but it does hurt his candidacy.

(Steve Deace can be heard on the radio each weekday from 3-6 p.m. in Central Iowa on 1460-KXNO, the flagship of the Cyclone Radio Network)


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