Monday Musings

In his weekly word to Cyclone Nation readers, editor-in-chief Steve Deace says despite the blowout loss to Oklahoma the Iowa State football team still has plenty to play for this season.

What was I thinking?

Perhaps I had bought into the hype? Perhaps I have truly become a Cyclone shill? Or, perhaps I had sniffed some expired glue before making last week's prediction that Iowa State would upset #2 Oklahoma in Norman.

Final: Oklahoma 49, Iowa State 3.

As soon as I saw the dreary forecast on Saturday morning, I thought the Cyclones and their largely aerial attack might be done for. Then, when after just one possession it was readily apparent that other than Seneca Wallace none of Iowa State's players would start for the Sooners, I knew it was over.

I spoke with John Quinn of the Cyclone Radio Network on Sunday and he confirmed my suspicions: the Cyclones were simply intimidated and rattled from the start. When I say intimidated, I don't mean they were necessarily "scared" of Oklahoma. More like they were intimidated and rattled by the atmosphere, weather, and the unprecedented high-stakes riding on the outcome.

The fact that Oklahoma was simply a much better and much more athletic team took care of the rest.

Keith Murphy, who covered the game for WHO TV-13 in Des Moines, agreed with Quinn's assessment and also added he thought that Wallace was atypically nervous beforehand. Murphy also wondered whether or not all of the media hype, like ESPN asking him to pose in a toga this week for College Gameday, was finally getting to the normally low-key Wallace.

Iowa State is beginning to figure out that taking the next step in its football evolution could be the hardest. There's only so much space for rent in college football's gated community. Just ask Kansas State, which is one of the greatest turnaround stories under Bill Snyder in the history of American sport.

Nonetheless, the Wildcats are just 2-27 against top 10 teams under Snyder.

Every once in a while, if you're an Iowa State, you can get a Nebraska when it's a little down like Kansas State did in 1998. Yet, it's tough to beat those elite teams when they're at their best. Even when Hayden Fry was leading the Iowa football resurgence in the 1980s he rarely beat Michigan or Ohio State when they had great seasons. The rare and notable exception being the 1985 classic against the Wolverines. Otherwise, Fry essentially beat those Big Ten heavyweights when they were in the throes of sub-par seasons by their standard (i.e. three-losses or more a season).

Kansas State is 2-27 against top 10 teams under Bill Snyder, who's responsible for arguably the greatest turnaround in the history of college football. He's got two wins over Nebraska. But the two Husker teams he defeated ended up in the Holiday and Alamo Bowls, not exactly what they would call vintage seasons in Lincoln. The point here is that even a program of K-State's stature, which is consistently ranked in the top 20 over the last decade and has some of the most lax recruiting and behavioral standards in the conference to attract players, is finding the sledding difficult when facing the sport's royalty.

There's a reason that schools like Nebraska, Oklahoma, Michigan, Notre Dame, Alabama, USC, and Ohio State don't suffer many down seasons and even when they do they're able to bounce back quickly.

Tradition.

Winning is genetic at those schools. It's expected, and the facilities (see that as money) and name-recognition are in place to sustain it.

Listen, everyone looked at this difficult schedule at the beginning of the season and said the goal was simply to make it to a third straight bowl game, right? That would take Iowa State further than Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma State were able to go after recent temporary breakthroughs. That would give the Iowa State a sense of staying power.

So, at the beginning of the season wouldn't all of you -- and even the players and coaches, for that matter -- been more than satisfied with an 8-5 record and Alamo Bowl bid? Of course you would.

I'm just asking for a little perspective here, starting with myself. I've been overly cautious throughout the season, and then lost my marbles last week.

Perspective also says the Cyclones still control their own destiny in the Big 12 North Division race. I've said since the start of the season the eventual North Division champion would have two losses. K-State, thanks to Texas, already has its second loss. Colorado is undefeated right now, but it still has road games at Oklahoma and Nebraska as well as a date with Iowa State. Trust me, regardless of their record right now the Huskers will be ready for Colorado in Lincoln Thanksgiving weekend.

If Iowa State can manage a split, it will likely win the Big 12 North and a shot at a major bowl. If it doesn't, it will still go to a third straight bowl game for the first time in school history and have the memories of a fifth straight win over Iowa.

There's no shame in that.

Hawkeyes go Boomer-Sooner

I suppose the very audible glee coming from Hawkeye Nation during the Oklahoma blowout of Iowa State should be expected, considering the nature of the rivalry right now. This is the first time Iowa fan feels realistically threatened by the Cyclones, so I'm sure a 46-point loss on national television made them think, if just for a day, that the world was safe again. Hayden Fry had returned, and so had Jim Criner, Jim Walden, and the Hawkeyes' 15-year winning streak over the red-headed stepchild in Ames.

And besides, Cyclone fan has been known to enjoy an Iowa loss almost as much as an Iowa State win at times. So all is fair in love and war.

But one of the callers to the WHO radio program SoundOff! basking in the Cyclones' misery was former University of Iowa sports information director George Wine. He should know better.

Wine called the program to pronounce Oklahoma's thrashing of Iowa State "over" at halftime. It's one thing for fans to engage in that sort of talk, but luminaries from the respective universities? Imagine the outcry from the Hawkeye Nation if Gary Thompson was to call my show the Monday after one of Iowa's upcoming men's basketball blowouts in the Big Ten to make similar comments?

I thought it was especially tactless given that there is plenty of good things to say about Iowa right now. Especially after it beats Michigan in The Big House this week and makes a run for the roses. Perhaps someone needs to remind Mr. Wine about how he felt on September 14th?

I'm sure this item will convince the most rabid and myopic citizens within the Hawkeye Nation that I am indeed a Cyclone sellout and Hawkeye hater on the radio. So be it.

In the immortal words of Phil Collins, I don't care anymore.

Weekly Top 25

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

1. Oklahoma (7-0)

Last week: 2

This week: idle

2. Miami, Fla. (6-0)

Last week: 1

This week: at West Virginia

3. Georgia (7-0)

Last week: 3

This week: at Kentucky

4. Virginia Tech (7-0)

Last week: 4

This week: Temple

5. Notre Dame (7-0)

Last week: 5

This week: at #13 Florida State

6. Ohio State (8-0)

Last week: 6

This week: #17 Penn State

7. Texas (6-1)

Last week: 10

This week: #17 Iowa State

8. Michigan (6-1)

Last week: 9

This week: #11 Iowa

9. Washington State (6-1)

Last week: 11

This week: at Arizona

10. North Ca


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