ISU can snap two-game slide

Jeff Stell

The ISU football team found the going tough in a 42-3 loss to Kansas State last weekend and draw an even tougher assignment in No. 21 Colorado on Saturday night at Jack Trice Stadium.

The rout at the hands of the Wildcats have the Cyclones in a two-game losing streak after winning seven of their previous eight games. The Cyclones are currently 5-3, including a 3-3 mark in the Big 12.

“With three games to go, all of these games are very, very important,” ISU head football coach Dan McCarney said. “I’m very excited to coach these kids again because as coaches and players, we know we didn’t play well last week. I don’t know what team was out there Saturday but that wasn’t our team.”

The Cyclones will be attempting to bounce back from that humiliating loss and take a third crack at clinching a second-straight winning season.

“We’re playing for a lot,” McCarney said. “We still have a chance at an outstanding season and we’ll have 18 seniors playing in their last Big 12 game at home.”

Last season, the Cyclones went into Boulder and claimed a 35-27 win.

The win snapped a 16-game Colorado winning streak in the series, most of which have been high-scoring clashes.

“We’ve had some good games with them where we scored a lot of points but they scored more,” McCarney said. “We’ve been able to move the ball on them but unfortunately haven’t played good enough defense until last year.”

The Buffaloes finished 3-8 last season but have made drastic improvement.

The Buffaloes are in the running for the Big 12 North crown at 5-1 and have beaten Texas A&M and Kansas State, the two teams that have put the Cyclones in their two-game skid.

The Buffaloes have won two straight games with backup quarterback Bobby Peasvento as the starter. Regular starter Craig Ochs has an injured ankle and will not be available again Saturday.

“You can win with either of those two quarterbacks in this league,” McCarney said. “Whether Craig Ochs plays or not doesn’t matter because Peasvento has stepped in and done a great job. They’re winning with him too.”

On the ground, the Buffaloes are third in the conference, averaging 209.3 yards a game.

Bobby Purify leads the team with 638 rushing yards while Cortlen Johnson is averaging seven yards every time he gets the ball.

The Buffaloes’ rushing attack will give the Cyclone defense a chance to redeem themselves after giving up 343 yards on the ground to the Wildcats.

“We had a lot of missed tackles [against Kansas State] and I think that’s just the fact that everybody’s tired and banged up,” ISU linebacker Justin Eilers said. “We have to get everybody healed up, get a week’s rest, and we’ll be fine. If we get back to our style of football, we’ll be ready to mix it up with them.”

The Cyclone defense was on the field for nearly 40 minutes in the loss to the Wildcats because of hardly any offensive production. The Cyclones totaled just 174 yards in the game.

Big 12 leading rusher Ennis Haywood was held to six yards on 10 carries and versatile quarterback Seneca Wallace was contained to only 125 total offense yards.

“We didn’t have anyone on that offense play well Saturday and that offensive unit is stinging from that,” McCarney said. “Each guy has got to expect more out of himself. Our running game was nonexistent and we had no passing protection.”

Haywood’s struggles dropped his rushing average 14 yards and he slipped from first to third in the Big 12 in rushing.

“It was frustrating, every time you turn around, you got men in your face,” Haywood said. “I know I’ve dropped to third in the conference so I got motivation to get back to No. 1 Saturday and help this team win.”

Heading into the Colorado game last season, the Cyclones were coming off a 46-point loss at Kansas State. The Cyclones took the victory in Boulder and finished strong with two more wins.

“We were at this same point last year and the win over Colorado was big emotional lift,” Eilers said. “We can’t take another step back. We only have three games left so we have to go now.”