With bowl hopes salted away, ISU football looks ahead


Blake Lanser/Iowa State Daily

Iowa State’s Jeremiah George and Cory Morrissey tag-team a tackle on K-State running back John Hubert. The Wildcats pulled off a victory against the Cyclones with a score of 41-7.

Alex Halsted

MANHATTAN, Kan. — As Jeremiah George pondered what the final four games might have for Iowa State, a half-hearted smile cracked his face.

“What, are we just going to lay down and come out and get beat every week?” George said. “No, we’re going to go out there, and we’re going to show everybody what we’re really capable of.”

Iowa State (1-7, 0-5 Big 12) fell 41-7 against Kansas State (4-4, 2-3 Big 12) on Saturday, Nov. 2, for the sixth-consecutive season. The loss sent the Cyclones to five-straight losses this season and erased any chance at bowl eligibility.

With postseason hopes salted away and four games still remaining, players insist there is still much to play for. Next season and continuous improvement are some reasons.

Pride is another.

“I’m going to give everything I have until I can no longer wear the cardinal and gold,” said George, who led the team with 12 tackles, including three for losses. “I don’t care if you go 0-12, I don’t care if you go 1-11. Whatever it is, everyday you put on that uniform, everyday you go to practice, you work hard.”

The Cyclones replaced starting quarterback Sam Richardson with Grant Rohach for the third-straight game, this time midway through the second quarter. Iowa State started moving the ball on each of its first two possessions, but false start penalties stalled both of them.

Iowa State reached the red zone just one time, when it recovered a fumble at the 10-yard line. That set up the Cyclones’ lone score when running back DeVondrick Nealy found the end zone with 3:24 remaining in the game.

Kansas State ran Iowa State out of the game, rushing on 48 of its 68 plays for four touchdowns, including 20 carries from its two quarterbacks.

Big plays never came for the Cyclones as Shontrelle Johnson’s 16-yard reception in the second quarter was the team’s longest play and leading receiver Quenton Bundrage was kept to one 10-yard catch when the team already trailed by five scores.

“We’ve lacked big plays from the quarterback position, from myself especially,” said Rohach, who threw two interceptions in two-and-a-half quarters. “[We’re] not making those big plays when they’re in front of us.”

The lack of big plays has the Cyclones out of contention for a postseason berth earlier than ever before in Rhoads’ tenure. Iowa State had made it to a bowl game in three of four seasons under Rhoads, and its lone miss previously came down to the final game in 2010 when the team lost each of its last three games to fall one victory short.

The final month this season will have no such implications. Yet there was no downplaying the importance of the month that lies ahead following Saturday’s loss.

“We’ve got four more opportunities,” said ISU coach Paul Rhoads. “That’s four more weeks with a chance to get better, that’s four more weeks to win some football games and make the best of what the season is.”