GRIDIRON EDITORIAL: ISU football season prediction

Editorial Board

With much anticipation for the ISU football team’s 2012 season, coach Paul Rhoads has a tough task ahead of him: Keep consistency.

The Cyclones shocked the nation last season with their upset of No. 2 Oklahoma State but floundered to a 6-7 finish with three straight losses — including a loss to Rutgers in the Pinstripe Bowl — following their biggest upset in school history.

Akin to what we did last year, the ISD Sports Editorial Board has chosen to break down Iowa State’s schedule week-by-week and give a brief explanation of our picks.

Sept. 1 vs. Tulsa

Winner: Iowa State

Why? Yes, Tulsa is a team that went 8-5 last season with four of its five losses coming to ranked opponents. But will the Golden Hurricane be able to handle a raucous Jack Trice Stadium with hopes of defeating a BCS team for the first time since 2010? It will be close, but the Cyclones win in a squeaker.

Sept. 8 at Iowa

Winner: Iowa

Why? Last year’s triple-overtime upset of Iowa won the Cyclones succulent bragging rights, but winning in Kinnick Stadium for a second straight victory in the Cy-Hawk Series may be a little bit of a stretch for the spunky Cyclones. With Iowa fixing to have a down year, we predict a close matchup with the Hawkeyes claiming the new Cy-Hawk Trophy.

Sept. 15 vs. Western Illinois

Winner: Iowa State

Why? While the first two games will be tough, Iowa State will get a reprieve in its schedule with Western Illinois, which has been in the cellar of the FCS for some time. The Leathernecks (yes, Leathernecks) have won just 11 games in the past three seasons (.306).

Sept. 29 vs. Texas Tech

Winner: Iowa State

Why? While a Big 12 opponent from the Lone Star State always looks tough on the Cyclones’ schedule, Rhoads has Texas Tech’s number having won their last two matchups. Tech figures to have another season with struggles, which makes an ISU team emerging from a bye week all that more favorable. 

Oct. 6 at Texas Christian

Winner: Texas Christian

Why? This will be the Cyclones’ first game against TCU as a conference opponent. TCU is 12-3 against BCS schools since 2005, so its move to the Big 12 won’t put it at a disadvantage in terms of competitiveness. The Cyclones will put up a fight, but the Horned Frogs will play too well for an upset to happen here.

Oct. 13 vs. Kansas State

Winner: Iowa State

Why? K-State has won four straight in “Farmageddon,” but the last time the Wildcats played in Ames (2007), it was Iowa State that was victorious. Kansas State will have another good team this year led by scrambling quarterback Collin Klein, but Iowa State will manage to stop the run at least in this game.

Oct. 20 at Oklahoma State

Winner: Oklahoma State

Why? Yes, Iowa State’s fairytale upset of No. 2 Oklahoma State was quite the thriller, but let’s be real here. Of the Cyclones’ major upsets — vs. Nebraska (2009), at Texas (2010) — in the first two years of the Rhoads era, they went on to get beat by that team the next season. Look for that trend to continue as the Cowboys roll.

Oct. 27 vs. Baylor

Winner: Iowa State

Why? Word is Baylor will have a good team following the early departure of Heisman quarterback Robert Griffin III to the NFL Draft, but Iowa State will be playing with a chip on its shoulder following a crushing loss to Oklahoma State the previous week. Trying to avoid losing two straight homecoming games for the first time since the 2007-08 seasons, the Cyclones will come away with a victory here.

Nov. 3 vs. Oklahoma

Winner: Oklahoma

Why? Losing 13 straight to the Sooners doesn’t make the Cyclones look like having much of a chance in this one. Yes, the game is in Jack Trice Stadium, but Oklahoma has only lost nine road games in the past five seasons. Easy pick, Sooners in a blowout.

Nov. 10 at Texas

Winner: Texas

Why? The Longhorns have since forgotten about their first-ever loss to the Cyclones in 2010. Texas stomped Iowa State in Jack Trice last season in the second-highest-attended home game in school history, and since the Cyclones will be dog-tired by this point in the season, look for another Longhorn victory.

Nov. 17 at Kansas

Winner: Iowa State

Why? Charlie Weis’ assumption of power for KU football may take a couple years to pay dividends. Iowa State is 2-1 against the Jayhawks in the Rhoads era, but hasn’t won in Lawrence, Kan., since 2001. Even a battered ISU team can be counted on to end that streak to ensure bowl eligibility for the second straight season and third time in four years.

Nov. 23 vs. West Virginia

Winner: West Virginia

Why? Black Friday will be the perfect setting for the first-ever matchup between Iowa State and West Virginia. The Mountaineers will most likely already be in contention for a BCS game at this point in the season, but something tells us the Cyclones won’t lay down easily to their new conference foe. West Virginia wins in a closer-than-you-think contest.

There you have it, our predictions have the Cyclones going 6-6 and 4-5 in conference play. That’s two wins more than last year’s prediction of a 4-8 season with a 2-7 conference record.

We were sure wrong about last year, so who knows? Maybe we’re wrong this year, too. But let’s wait and see what happens.