The Inaugural Wall's World - Preseason Picks

The last time Iowa State had a defending national champion on their schedule, the year was 1996 and the Cyclones put up an overall record of 2-9 and a conference mark of 1-7. It was Dan McCarney's second season at the helm of the Cyclone ship and Iowa State's turnaround was a work in progress.

Now 11 years later, things in Cyclone Nation are vastly different. Texas returns to the Cyclone schedule as defending national champs, Coach Mac is the dean of Big 12 coaches and the next step for the Cyclones isn't just to win games – as it was in '96 – it's to get to the big one, the Big 12 Championship game and a major bowl.

 

Before we get started, let me introduce myself. My name is Grant Wall and I am a senior at Iowa State, studying journalism and mass communication. I've been the football and men's basketball beat reporter for the Iowa State Daily for the past three seasons and spent some time with the Fort Dodge Messenger while in high school. I hope these credentials lend me a small mark of credibility. I hail from Fort Dodge where I grew up fighting with my three best friends – all Hawkeye fans. I've been a Cyclone for as long as I can remember and am excited for this chance to connect with Iowa State fans across the country with Cyclone Nation. I will be coming at you every week, breaking down each game on the Big 12 schedule.

 

While the Big 12 South is a two team race even before the season's opening kickoff, the North is wide open once again. Iowa State has a realistic shot to claim the title that has slipped through their fingertips the past two seasons.

 

Iowa State has what could be their most talented team ever. The offense is loaded with talent that will, at times, be able to score points almost at will. The defense is a question mark for the Cyclones, having to replace all but three starters from last season. Still, there is a load of young talent that is ready to step in and perform. There will be a few anxious moments during the beginning of the season, but that defense will be solid once Big 12 play rolls around.

 

Todd Blythe and Bret Meyer are the best one-two offensive punch in the Big 12. There isn't a duo that's better; go ahead look around and try to find a more explosive, talented combo. You won't be able to. It's a scientific fact. Behind Blythe at receiver is a list of talent that would make any other coach in the conference jealous. Austin Flynn, Jon Davis, R.J. Sumrall, Milan Moses, Marquis Hamilton and Houston Jones are all options for Meyer, making his job amazingly easier. Don't forget a healthy Stevie Hicks who, according to all reports, is back to the form that made him a 1,000-yard rusher as a sophomore.

 

Iowa State will have an incredibly balanced offense that can beat you with both the run and pass. An average of 30 points per game might be a stretch but isn't completely ridiculous. After using defense as a calling card under McCarney, this season it may be the Cyclone offense that carries them to victory.

 

I know what you're thinking. Come on Grant, a great offense, tell us something we don't know!

 

Okay, I will. Brent Blum's favorite song is "To Little, To Late" by JoJo. She's 16 and Blum has the song playing all day. I know this because after a cruel twist of fate, I am living with him this year.

 

Now in Blum's defense, I'll tell you something else you don't know. I like the song too. In fact, I may have requested it from across the hall once or twice already this semester.

 

But you don't care about our musical tastes. Back to the Big 12!

 

The North is a two team race with the possibility of another team making things relatively interesting. Confused? Me too.

 

Nebraska is the team to beat in the North. This is Bill Callahan's third season with the Cornhuskers, and his new offensive system is fully in place and surrounded by the talent needed to employ his West Coast style attack. The Nebraska defense is also top notch, returning seven starters including potential All-American Adam Carriker. Carriker had 9.5 of Nebraska's 50 sacks last season, as the Huskers led nation in that category.

 

Behind Nebraska is Iowa State, who could very easily challenge their rivals to the west for the division crown. If Iowa State can run through the North – which if they beat Nebraska is a very real possibility – they have a chance to play in the Big 12 Championship game in Kansas City.

 

The key to Iowa State's success is how they respond to a brutal five game stretch in September and October. Games against Iowa, Texas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas Tech could conceivably drop the Cyclones to 3-5 midway through their schedule. But Iowa State's last four games are against North opponents, all games Iowa State has the upper hand in. Look for a trip to the conference title game to be on the line when the Cyclones welcome Missouri to Ames on Nov. 18.

 

Grant Wall's Big 12 North

 

  1. Nebraska
  2. Iowa State
  3. Colorado
  4. Missouri
  5. Kansas
  6. Kansas State

 

Big 12 North Player of the Year – Bret Meyer, QB, Iowa State

 

Meyer holds the reigns for the Cyclones again this season, guiding a team that is poised to take a jump into the national spotlight. Games against Iowa, Texas, Oklahoma and Nebraska give Meyer and Co. the chance to showcase their skills to a national audience. Wins against even one of those teams would be monumental and could help Iowa State to their best season ever.

 

Best North Non-Conference Game - Nebraska at USC

 

It's a matchup of two of the most storied programs in college football. For USC, this game could go a long way to legitimizing their claim as an elite team after losing Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush and a host of others after their run at a third consecutive national championship last season. On the other side, a win for Nebraska would go a long way to getting the Huskers back to the top.

 

Best Big 12 North Game – Nebraska at Iowa State

 

The winner of this game will play for the Big 12 title.

 

 The Big 12 South is once again a two team race. Texas and Oklahoma will duke things out once again, leaving the other four teams in the division fighting for bowl games and that elusive third place prize.

 

Provided there isn't a catastrophy at quarterback, Texas has the real possibility of repeating as national champions. Ohio State (we'll get to that in a minute) and Oklahoma are the only real stumbling blocks on the Longhorn schedule, but thanks to a monumental brain fart from a certain Sooner quarterback, Texas should handle that game with no problem.

 

Grant Wall's Big 12 South

 

  1. Texas
  2. Oklahoma
  3. Texas Tech
  4. Texas A&M
  5. Baylor
  6. Oklahoma State

 

Big 12 South Player of the Year – Adrian Peterson, RB, Oklahoma

 

Peterson was the Heisman Trophy runner-up two years ago and reached 1,000 yards rushing last year while being hampered by injuries. Now that he is healthy Peterson won't be stopped. The Sooner's sudden challenges in their passing game will add to both the carries and yards from the junior running back.

 

Best South Non-Conference Game – Ohio State at Texas

 

This is really a no-brainer. Ohio State is ranked No. 1 in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today polls while Texas holds down the second and third spot in those polls respectively. Texas will still be breaking in a new quarterback, but their running game and the nine new players on the Ohio State defense will be the difference.

 

Best South Conference Game – Oklahoma vs. Texas

 

Just like the Iowa State-Nebraska game in the North, this game will decide who will be playing in Kansas City for the league title.


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