How Will Cyclones Fare Saturday?

My buddy Bob asked me this weekend how I thought the Cyclones would do against UNI this Saturday. I told him that Iowa State was going to win… and probably win it pretty easily. "No way!" he said. "UNI has a ton of guys back and it was only 17-10 last year. The Panthers might just win it this year. It will at least be a close game." And so we argued for a bit, with neither of us backing off of our stance.

To me, this Iowa State team will be better defensively than a year ago. And I don't think the defense is going to need to be on the field 80 percent of the time, as it seemed to be during stretches last season.

I think the offensive line HAS to be a better unit than last season, which will make everything on offense run more smoothly and efficiently.

I am not surprised that Bret Meyer has been named the starting QB, but I will also not be surprised if Austin Flynn makes his share of plays on Saturday, as well.

My HOPE, however, is that by the time the Big 12 season rolls around, one of these guys has solidified his spot as the # 1 signal caller. I don't want to see a revolving door at the QB position this season. I think the team will be much better off if one of these guys WINS the spot and keeps it.

Maybe I am being optimistic, but I think that Coach Dan McCarney is going to get this team very jacked up prior to the UNI game in an "us against the world, nobody believes in us" mentality. And that might be when Coach McCarney is at his motivational best.

UNI fans have to believe the Panthers have a shot in this game…and maybe they do. Maybe I'm crazy. But, I believe the Cyclones are going to have a chip on their shoulder the size of the UNI-Dome on Saturday.

It's time for Iowa State to send a message. Or two.

A message to all the Cyclone fans that the football program is back on the right track after the dismal showing in 2003. A message to the Panthers that THIS Cyclone team can run the football and play aggressive, physical football for four quarters. A message to themselves that they can beat people up front consistently.

A message that the 10-game losing streak is over. A new season has begun. And this team is going to be better than anyone outside of the Cyclone Nation thinks.

Defense wins championships. And defense keeps teams in ballgames. I think ISU's strength will be its defense. But obviously, the team is going to need to more offensive production than when it scored a total of 24 points in its last five games of 2003.

While I expect the Cyclones' defense to play very well on Saturday, I think it might be Coach Barney Cotton's day in the sun. I look for the offensive line to open holes that lead to Stevie Hicks gaining 135 yards on the ground. I think Meyer will throw for a score and Flynn will run for one.

In short, I expect Saturday to be a day that closes the book on the nightmare of 2003. And Coach McCarney will see to it that the message is made clear: This is a new team and a new season. It's time to turn the page.

Iowa State 27, UNI 10.

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Check out Iowa Preps Today.com

A few months ago, I launched a new web site at www.IowaPrepsToday.com. This site features several high school conferences in Iowa, including the Raccoon River, Lakes, Siouxland, Eastern Iowa Hawkeye, Twin Lakes and Cornbelt. I will be adding more leagues within the next month, as well.

As a result of the time and effort it takes for me to get these conference web sites created, launched and updated, I am going to be scaling back my efforts with the Cyclone Nation.com web site for the short term. I will continue to write a column each month for "CN" magazine, however.

I hope to have everything running very smoothly within the next few months and get back to writing regular columns on this site. But for now, I have to focus most of my energy on building the Iowa Preps Today network.

(Shameless Plug Alert! Shameless Plug Alert!)

When you go to the Iowa Preps Today.com site, you can select which conference you are interested in. Each conference's home page features a story about a student-athlete, coach or team from that league, as well as links to sections that highlight each school and each sport within that conference. In addition to feature stories, visitors will find up-to-date information regarding:

Scores.
Standings.
Statistics.
Schedules.
Historical Information.
Rosters.
Contact Information.
Directions to Schools.

Obviously, the Iowa Preps Today.com web site will greatly benefit the student-athletes, coaches and fans of the participating conferences. The site also enables alumni, fans and family members who live outside of each league's immediate area to keep close tabs on how their favorite schools and student-athletes are doing. So far, the feedback I've received from administrators, coaches, fans and local media has been tremendous.

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions after visiting the Iowa Preps Today web site, please feel free to send me an e-mail at info@IowaPrepsToday.com. I look forward to hearing from you.

And by all means, if you know other fans of high school sports in Iowa, please send them a link to the Iowa Preps Today.com web site. Thanks!

As a side note, I want to thank Steve Deace for giving me the opportunity to write for the Cyclone Nation.com web site for the past year and for allowing me the flexibility to take some time to get this new site on its feet. The Cyclone Nation web site will undoubtedly continue to enjoy terrific growth due to the work ethic, talent and abilities of people like Steve Deace and Bill Seals.

(Marty Gallagher founded the popular web site IowaSportsOpinions.com and now publishes IowaPrepsToday.com. E-mail him at Marty@IowaSportsOpinions.com.)


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