Iowa State vs. Colorado: Keys to Victory

The Cyclones were punished last weekend by a Kansas State team that took advantage of short fields and uncharacteristic mistakes from Dan McCarney's team. Attaining a Rocky Mountain High Saturday is possible if Iowa State cuts down on the offensive mistakes and gives its defense some room to work with. That's one of three keys for an ISU victory at Boulder.

Give defense more room

Assuming the Cyclones had more of the field to defend last weekend against Kansas State, they could have shaved a few points off the final deficit. But that wasn't the case, as turnovers, offensive penalties and a few punts that Troy Blankenship would like to have back, handed the Wildcats prime field position.

In a stretch of the first half when ISU looked to crawl back into the game, K-State started three offensive possessions deep in its own territory (nine, 11 and 20). The Wildcats went three-and-out on the first two drives, then got a 56-yard completion on the third to set up a second-quarter field goal.

But enough of the Manhattan massacre, let's look ahead to tomorrow. The Cyclones must force Colorado into similar situations to give their bend but don't break defense a chance to work. If ISU does so, the numbers are on its side since John Skladany's unit has given up more than 400 yards offense just once in the last seven games.

Stout inside the 20

This somewhat ties into the previous point. Even if Chris Brown gets his yards, the Buffs are able to surpass the 400-yard mark and ISU's defense bends a little, the Cyclones could wreak some havoc in the red zone. CU is the Big 12's worst offense inside the 20-yard line, converting on just 24-of-35 trips into the red zone.

A horrid kicking game has a lot to do with it. Patrick Brougham has made just 9-of-18 field goals this season. That lack of consistency has the Buff offense staying on the field for fourth down situations. Five trips into the red zone have ended on downs, while another five failures are on Brougham's shoulders for missed kicks. One more ended by way of a fumble.

Colorado's style of offense could also have something to do with it. It relies heavily on the running game for results, but when the defense gets compact on a short field, Robert Hodge hasn't been able to get the job done.

But here's the kicker (no pun intended). The Cyclones haven't been so stellar defending inside the 20, either. They rank as the Big 12's worst red zone defense and have allowed opponents to put points on the board 30 of 31 times. This is where attitude, confidence and emotion come into play. That's what could swing this matchup one way or the other.

Turn Seneca Wallace loose…on the ground

If the arm of ISU's standout quarterback isn't doing the job in Boulder, Steve Brickey must turn Wallace loose on the ground. The coaching staff has sought to keep Wallace healthy throughout a long schedule by keeping him out of trouble. But with two games to go, look for Wallace to be used more in the rush game.

Wallace excelling in the rush and pass game has proved to be a recipe for success, too. Take victories over Missouri and Nebraska as examples. Wallace posted his two highest rushing tallies of the year in these two games. Of his school-record 493 total yards against the Tigers, 68 came by way of the ground. Five weeks earlier against the Huskers, Wallace scored a pair of rushing touchdowns and finished with 50 yards.

Using their quarterback in the rushing game may have been THE difference in the Cyclones' last win over Colorado. Remember Sage Rosenfels' effort in Boulder two years ago? Colorado couldn't find an answer all afternoon for the quarterback's running. Rosenfels rushed for 140 yards and two touchdowns in leading ISU to a 35-27 victory.

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