Superman and his kryptonite. Napoleon and Waterloo. The Democrats and the election laws of the United States of America.
Everybody has a nemesis.
If you are in any way affiliated with the Iowa State football program as a coach, player, booster, fan, administrator, vendor, groupie, alum, announcer, message board poster, or hanger-on you have learned to hate Kansas State.
The Wildcats have been a thorn in Dan McCarney's side for three years now. In 1999, the Cyclones were on the verge of a coming out party, only to blow a huge lead at home along with a chance for a breakthrough season. In 2000, an Iowa State team that would finish 9-3 and ranked in the top 25 was humiliated, 56-7. Last season, a mediocre K-State team which finished just 6-6 still found a way to rout the Cyclones in Ames, 40-3.
It particularly hurts because Kansas State is the program Iowa State aspires to be--with a much higher graduation rate. Bill Snyder has accomplished the greatest rebuilding job in the modern history of college football, by any means necessary. If Dan McCarney inherited a nuclear winter in Ames, than Snyder stepped foot on ground zero when he first arrived in Manhattan.
Nonetheless, Snyder has taken a program with a lifetime winning percentage in the thirty percentile and made it one of the nation's elite. The past seven years K-State is a whopping 68-19, has played for the Big 12 championship twice, and has beaten traditional powers like Washington, Syracuse, and Tennessee in major bowl games. Snyder will have a place reserved for him in South Bend at the College Football Hall of Fame when hangs up his headset.
However, that doesn't mean there aren't a few chinks in the armor. For instance, until a recent home-and-home series with USC (which the Wildcats swept), Snyder's idea of a tough non-conference game was playing Des Moines Christian in 8-man football. Snyder would never jump in and play a Florida State like Mac did back in August.
Iowa State fans constantly bemoan their team's lack of a "big-name win." I'm not saying anyone should be satisfied with a victory in the Insight.com Bowl every 20 years, but the mighty Wildcats are just 2-27 against top 10 teams under Snyder's reign.
Still, this week is a benchmark for the Iowa State program. Despite the Renaissance of the past two years, the Cyclones have been humbled by K-State by a combined score of 96-10. With Colorado's loss to Oklahoma, ISU now controls its own destiny in the Big 12 North Division. K-State still has a sliver of hope as well. The Buffaloes finish with a road trip to dangerous-at-home Missouri, host the Cyclones, and then conclude with a date in Lincoln against out-for-blood Nebraska.
Therefore, it's still a wide-open in the race to see who is willing to get pummeled by the Sooners in the Big 12 title game. However, before grabbing that brass ring the Cyclones are going to have to get by the gatekeeper on Saturday night. And he's wearing a purple and silver uniform, again.
Many thanks to all of you who showed up at the inaugural Cyclone Gridiron Club tailgate party on Saturday at Jack Trice Stadium. Founders Mark Hill, Tom Broderick, and Gary Lynch were each very pleased with the turnout. In fact, nearly 1,000 hearty Cyclone fans turned out Saturday morning for some barbecue, adult beverages, and a chance to root on Wisconsin…err, I mean Iowa on one of the two flat-screen televisions fitted with satellite dishes inside the heated tents.
All of the proceeds raised Saturday will go to the football program via the Gridiron Club, which is a booster club whose sole intent is to raise the revenue necessary to sustain and also improve the recent success experienced by the Iowa State football program. See that as pay Mac and his assistants what they deserve.
For more information on the Gridiron Club, check them out online atwww.gridironclub.net or see the article in this month's Cyclone Nation Magazine.
Bulletin Board Material
Have you seen The Sporting News College Basketball Preview yet? It has Drake rated higher than either Iowa or Iowa State in its ranking of every Division I-A team. Granted, the Bulldogs have scoreboard on the Cyclones based on last season's win but this is a program that took finishing .500 in the Missouri Valley Conference as a tremendous accomplishment.
Unfortunately, The Sporting News' low rating of Iowa State should also be reflected in the RPI heading into conference play thanks to that non-league schedule which includes Coe College, Mercer, Jackson State, Western Illinois, Denver and/or SUNY-Binghamton, Iowa, Savannah State, and Arkansas Pine-Bluff.
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 (8-0)
Last week: 1
This week: at Texas A&M
2. Miami, Fla. (8-0)
Last week: 3
This week: at Tennessee
3. Ohio State (10-0)
Last week: 6
This week: at Purdue
4. Texas (8-1)
Last week: 7
This week: Baylor
5. Iowa (9-1)
Last week: 8
This week: Northwestern
6. Washington State (8-1)
Last week: 9
This week: #17 Oregon
7. Notre Dame (8-1)
Last week: 2
This week: at Navy
8. Georgia (8-1)
Last week: 4
This week: Mississippi
9. Virginia Tech (8-1)
Last week: 5
This week: at Syracuse
10. USC (6-2)
Last week: 11
This week: at Stanford
11. Kansas State (7-2)
Last week: 12
This week: #22 Iowa State
12. Alabama (7-2)
Last week: 13
This week: Mississippi State
13. N.C. State (9-1)
Last week: 10
This week: at Maryland
14. Michigan (7-2)
Last week: 16
This week: at Minnesota
15. LSU (6-2)
Last week: 17
This week: at Kentucky
16. Colorado State (8-2)
Last week: 18
This week: idle
17. Oregon (7-2)
Last week: 19
This week: at #6 Washington State
18. Pittsburgh (7-2)
Last week: NR
This week: Temple
19. Florida State (7-3)
Last week: 20
This week: at Georgia Tech
20. Penn State (6-3)
Last week: 21
This week: Virginia
21. Colorado (6-3)
Last week: 14
This week: at Missouri
22. Iowa State (7-3)
Last week: 22
This week: at #11 Kansas State
23. Arizona State (7-3)
Last week: 15
This week: California
24. Florida (6-3)
Last week: NR
This week: at Vanderbilt
25. Bowling Green (8-0)
Last week: 24
This week: at Northern Illinois
Dropped out: #23 Minnesota, #25 Maryland
My Heisman Ballot
- Ken Dorsey (QB-Miami, Fla.)…Numbers are good, not great. But wins keep mounting while the other challengers are struggling.
- Willis McGahee (RB-Miami, Fla.)…Would be heavy favorite now if it weren't for teammate Dorsey.
- Jason Gesser (QB-Washington State)…Cougars are now in control of Pac-10 race and still have outside shot at Fiesta Bowl with help.
- Brad Banks (QB-Iowa)…Time to recognize the best, and most valuable, player in the Big Ten. Having a better season than Chuck Long did in 1985.
- Seneca Wallace (QB-Iowa State)…Stick to what I said before the season: if the Cyclones win 9 games he gets an invitation to New York for the ceremony.
Updated Bowl Projections
New Orleans Bowl (Dec. 17: Sun Belt Champ vs. Conference USA #5)
GMAC Bowl (Dec. 18: Conference USA #2 vs. MAC #2)
Southern Mississippi vs. Bowling Green
Tangerine Bowl (Dec. 23: ACC #4 vs. Big 12)
Georgia Tech 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)
Hawaii vs. Tulane
Motor City Bowl (Dec. 26: MAC #1 vs. Big Ten #7)
Purdue vs. Marshall
Insight.com Bowl (Dec. 26: Big East #3/Notre Dame vs. Pac-10 #4)
Virginia Tech vs. Arizona State
Houston Bowl (Dec. 27: Conference USA #3 vs. Big 12 #6)
Texas Tech vs. Louisville
Independence Bowl (Dec. 27: Big 12 #5 vs. SEC #7)
Nebraska vs. Arkansas
Holiday Bowl (Dec. 27: Pac-10 #2 vs. Big 12 #3)\
USC vs. Iowa 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)
*Seattle Bowl (Dec. 30: Mountain West #4 vs. ACC)
Mississippi vs. Virginia
Music City Bowl (Dec. 30: Big Ten #6 vs. SEC #6)
Wisconsin vs. South Carolina
Humanitarian Bowl (Dec. 31: WAC #2 vs. Big 12)
Sun Bowl (Dec. 31: Big Ten #5 vs. Pac-10 #3)
Oregon vs. Minnesota
Silicon Valley Classic (Dec. 31: WAC #1 vs. Pac-10)
Liberty Bowl (Dec. 31: Conference USA #1 vs. Mountain West #1)
TCU vs. Colorado State
Peach Bowl (Dec. 31: ACC #3 vs. SEC #5)
Maryland vs. Auburn
San Francisco Bowl (Dec. 31: Mountain West vs. Big East)
Outback Bowl (Jan. 1: Big Ten #3 vs. SEC)
Michigan vs. Tennessee
Cotton Bowl (Jan. 1: Big 12 #2 vs. SEC)
Kansas State vs. Florida
Gator Bowl (Jan. 1: Big East #2/Notre Dame vs. ACC #2)
Pittsburgh vs. Florida State
Capitol One Bowl (Jan. 1: Big Ten #2 vs. SEC #2)
LSU vs. Ohio State
Rose Bowl (Jan. 1: Big Ten #1 vs. Pac-10 #1)
Iowa vs. Washington State
Sugar Bowl (Jan. 1: SEC #1 vs. BCS At-large)
Notre Dame vs. Georgia
Orange Bowl (Jan. 2: ACC/Big East #1 vs. BCS At-large)
Texas vs. N.C. State
Fiesta Bowl (Jan. 3: BCS #1 vs. BCS #2)
Oklahoma vs. Miami, Fla.
Please note that California, Kentucky, and Alabama are not eligible for the postseason because of NCAA sanctions.
*We project the Mountain West Conference will not have enough bowl-eligible teams to fill all of its slots.
(Steve Deace can be heard each Monday-Friday from 4-7 p.m. on 1460 KXNO in Des Moines, the flagship for the Cyclone Radio Network)