Monday Musings

In his weekly word to Cyclone Nation readers, editor-in-chief Steve Deace predicts an Iowa State upset of Oklahoma and comments on the Des Moines Register's Sunday headline that is causing quite a furor.

Allow me to be the first to say it.

Iowa State will upset Oklahoma this week.

Yes, I know the game is in Norman. Yes, I did witness the Sooner defense's annual befuddling of Chris Simms and the Texas offense in the Cotton Bowl last weekend. Yes, I know that former Hawkeye Bob Stoops might have more guts and as good a coaching staff as anybody in America. Yes, I know the Oklahoma defense features at least five future pros.

But here's what I also know.

Oklahoma surrendered 27 points in September to an Alabama team Iowa State essentially shut down in the Independence Bowl last December. The Sooners only yielded 209 yards of total offense against Texas, but still surrendered 24 points. How? Turnovers, as in four interceptions by quarterback Nate Hybl. He's hardly a playmaker, and Oklahoma beat Texas in spite of him.

Plus, there is one common thread in the two games that Oklahoma has struggled in from a defensive standpoint this season. Each of those opponents had mobile quarterbacks who could make plays on the run, as in Tyler Watts of Alabama and Brad Smith of Missouri. In those two games, the Sooners have allowed an average of 25 points and 368 total yards. In its other four outings the Oklahoma defense has only surrendered 9.5 points per game and 242 total yards.

If the Cyclones win the turnover battle -- and they currently lead the Big 12 with a plus-11 turnover margin -- and score at least 25 points, which would be a season-low, they'll win this football game. It's as simple as that.

Now, saying that and doing it are two separate things. However, this game isn't going to be any more difficult than playing Alabama, Florida State, Iowa, or Nebraska. The Sooners aren't invincible, just ask Oklahoma State. Oklahoma's schedule is currently ranked 68th in the nation according to Jerry Palm at Considering that, and the fact they are one play away from inserting the man they began the season with as their fourth string quarterback, the Sooners are vulnerable to come Cyclone Kryptonite.

Wallace is a far better player than Watts, and he has more seasoning and polish than does Smith. The Cyclones have as good a talent as Alabama, and better personnel than Missouri. Playing in Norman at 2:30 on Saturday isn't going to be any more difficult than playing a night game at Kinnick Stadium against a talented Iowa team desperate for a win over its in-state rival.

And don't overlook the Iowa State defense, either. How often in sports do we see a player or team rise to the level of their much-hyped counterpart? Answer: very often. The Cyclone defense has already faced the spread offense, the triple-option offense, and the run-n-shoot. John Skladany's troops have proven to be versatile and rank among the nation's elite in scoring defense.

Final score: Iowa State 25, Oklahoma 24.

Raging at the Register

Sunday morning's headline over the Iowa State game story in the Des Moines Register has angered many a member of the Cyclone Nation. In fact, I had one Iowa State official call me to vent about it that afternoon. In case you missed it, here's what it said: "Heisman Caliber? No. Good enough? Yes"

Now, before you go on a rant against Register beat writer Randy Peterson please keep in mind he just writes the stories and not the headlines. That's the duty of the copy desk. Nonetheless, since his name is the only one on the marquee he's likely to get the most hate mail.

Also, allow me to negate any notion of a Register conspiracy against the Cyclones. Frankly, you're giving the paper too much credit with that. As someone who worked there for five years, and spent most of that time in the newsroom assisting and observing the copy desk, let me tell you the only conspiracy in the Register's sports department is one of expediency. It's my belief the news editor would've spiked a headline like that if the game had been played at 11 a.m. or 2:30 in the afternoon instead of 6:05 that evening. The Register has oppressive deadlines, and the 9:30 or so conclusion to the Texas Tech game likely put the pressure on the entire staff to get as much in as they could as quickly as possible.

However, I'll admit that sounds like an excuse. And it is. As I told the Iowa State official I talked to about this yesterday, I don't think it's any Iowa paper's duty to cheerlead for either the Cyclones or Hawkeyes. But, whenever it's possible to report good local news on a national scale, they should take advantage of it. Now, if Seneca Wallace throws three interceptions and is knocked out of the game at Oklahoma and the Cyclones still win, it's okay to write something like that.

But a headline on a game story like that when the Cyclones win a nationally-televised game by two touchdowns against a team with a winning record while Wallace has the offensive highlight play of the season thus far is a very curious and poor decision. I'm guessing today's page 1-A story about Iowa State's highest-ever #9 national ranking is a bit of a make-up call.

One final thought on this: I'm wondering if the Miami Herald ran a similar headline after the top-ranked Hurricanes survived Florida State? After all, Heisman Trophy candidate Ken Dorsey did complete fewer than 50 percent of his passes with two touchdowns and two interceptions despite winning the game. Heisman caliber? No. Good enough? Yes.

Weekly Top 25

If I had a vote in the AP Poll, here's what my ballot would've looked like this week:

1. Miami, Fla. (6-0)

Last week: 1

This week: idle

2. Oklahoma (6-0)

Last week: 4

This week: #8 Iowa State

3. Georgia (6-0)

Last week: 3

This week: Vanderbilt

4. Virginia Tech (6-0)

Last week: 5

This week: Rutgers

5. Notre Dame (6-0)

Last week: 6

This week: at #19 Air Force

6. Ohio State (7-0)

Last week: 7

This week: at Wisconsin

7. Oregon (6-0)

Last week: 8

This week: Arizona State

8. Iowa State (6-1)

Last week: 13

This week: at #2 Oklahoma

9. Michigan (5-1)

Last week: 12

This week: at Purdue

10. Texas (5-1)

Last week: 2

This week: at #15 Kansas State

11. Washington State (6-1)

Last week: 11

This week: at Arizona

12. N.C. State (7-0)

Last week: 14

This week: Duke

13. Iowa (6-1)

Last week: 16

This week: at Indiana

14. LSU (5-1)

Last week: 22

This week: South Carolina

15. Kansas State (5-1)

Last week: 15

This week: #10 Texas

16. Florida State (5-2)

Last week: 10

This week: idle

17. Tennessee (4-2)

Last week: 9

This week: idle

18. Mississippi (5-1)

Last week: 19

This week: at Alabama

19. Air Force (6-0)

Last week: 23

This week: #5 Notre Dame

20. USC (4-2)

Last week: 21

This week: #23 Washington

21. Penn State (4-2)

Last week: 17

This week: Northwestern

22. Colorado State (5-2)

Last week: NR

This week: at Utah

23. Washington (4-2)

Last week: NR

This week: at #20 USC

24. Colorado (4-2)

Last week: NR

This week: Baylor

25. Virginia (5-2)

Last week: NR

This week: North Carolina

Dropped out: #18 Auburn (4-2), #20 Florida (4-3), #24 UCLA (4-2), #25 Wisconsin (5-2).

Honorable mention: #26 UCLA (4-2), #27 South Carolina (5-2), #28 Minnesota (6-1), #29 Nebraska (5-2), #30 Bowling Green (5-0).

My Heisman Ballot

  1. Seneca Wallace (QB-Iowa State)…Simply the best player in college football right now.
  2. Ken Dorsey (QB-Miami, Fla.)…Statistics not overly impressive, except for the one that counts most--wins.
  3. Maurice Clarett (RB-Ohio State)…I don't like giving the award to a freshman, but his numbers and impact on Buckeyes tough to ignore.
  4. Tie: Onterrio Smith (RB-Oregon)/Jason Gesser (QB-Washington State)…Tie-breaker comes November 9th when Ducks visit Pullman for showdown to settle Pac-10 title.

Updated Bowl Projections

New Orleans Bowl (Dec. 17: Sun Belt Champ vs. Conference USA #5)

Arkansas State vs. UAB

GMAC Bowl (Dec. 18: Conference USA #2 vs. MAC #2)

Louisville vs. Bowling Green

Tangerine Bowl (Dec. 23: ACC #4 vs. Big 12)

Maryland vs. Texas A&M

Las Vegas Bowl (Dec. 25: Mountain West #2 vs. Pac-10 #5)

Air Force vs. UCLA

Hawaii Bowl (Dec. 25: Conference USA #4 vs. WAC #3)

East Carolina vs. Hawaii

Motor City Bowl (Dec. 26: MAC #1 vs. Big Ten #7)

Marshall vs. Purdue Bowl (Dec. 26: Big East #3/Notre Dame vs. Pac-10 #4)

West Virginia vs. Washington

Houston Bowl (Dec. 27: Conference USA #3 vs. Big 12 #6)

TCU vs. Texas Tech

Independence Bowl (Dec. 27: Big 12 #5 vs. SEC #7)

Nebraska vs. South Carolina

Holiday Bowl (Dec. 27: Pac-10 #2 vs. Big 12 #3)

Washington State vs. Kansas State

Alamo Bowl (Dec. 28: Big Ten #4 vs. Big 12 #4)

Penn State vs. Colorado

Continental Tire Bowl (Dec. 28: Big East vs. ACC)

Georgia Tech vs. Auburn

Seattle Bowl (Dec. 30: Mountain West #4 vs. ACC)

New Mexico vs. Clemson

Music City Bowl (Dec. 30: Big Ten #6 vs. SEC #6)

Minnesota vs. Arkansas

Humanitarian Bowl (Dec. 31: WAC #2 vs. Big 12)

Boise State vs. Wake Forest

Sun Bowl (Dec. 31: Big Ten #5 vs. Pac-10 #3)

Wisconsin vs. USC

Silicon Valley Classic (Dec. 31: WAC #1 vs. Pac-10)

Arizona State vs. Fresno State

Liberty Bowl (Dec. 31: Conference USA #1 vs. Mountain West #1)

Southern Mississippi vs. Colorado State

Peach Bowl (Dec. 31: ACC #3 vs. SEC #5)

Virginia vs. Florida

San Francisco Bowl (Dec. 31: Mountain West vs. Big East)

BYU vs. Boston College

Outback Bowl (Jan. 1: Big Ten #3 vs. SEC)

Michigan vs. Mississippi

Cotton Bowl (Jan. 1: Big 12 #2 vs. SEC)

Tennessee vs. Iowa State

Gator Bowl (Jan. 1: Big East #2/Notre Dame vs. ACC #2)

N.C. State vs. Pittsburgh

Capitol One Bowl (Jan. 1: Big Ten #2 vs. SEC #2)

LSU vs. Iowa

Rose Bowl (Jan. 1: Big Ten #1 vs. Pac-10 #1)

Notre Dame vs. Ohio State

Sugar Bowl (Jan. 1: SEC #1 vs. BCS At-large)

Oklahoma vs. Georgia

Orange Bowl (Jan. 2: ACC/Big East #1 vs. BCS At-large)

Virginia Tech vs. Florida State

Fiesta Bowl (Jan. 3: BCS #1 vs. BCS #2)

Oregon vs. Miami, Fla.







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