No lack of motivation for Cyclones

Jeff Stell

Just in case they’re lacking motivation, the ISU football team has plenty of incentive to knock off No. 24 Texas A&M in College Station Saturday.

The Cyclones are off to a 5-1 start to the season and a sixth win would clinch a winning record for the second straight year. The sixth win would also make the Cyclones bowl eligible.

The Aggies being ranked 24th gives the Cyclones a chance to beat a ranked team for the first time under head coach Dan McCarney. The Aggies are 6-1.

“Combined, both teams are 11-2, and it’s the last Saturday in October, and we’re really looking forward to the challenge,” McCarney said. “This is a tremendous opportunity against one of the great programs in college football.”

Another factor for the Cyclones is revenge, as the Aggies are the last road team to win in Jack Trice Stadium. Last season, the Aggies drilled the Cyclones 30-7 on Homecoming weekend.

The Aggies blocked a punt in the first quarter and kept the momentum the rest of the way, totaling 469 yards of total offense

“We’ve got to get off to a good start because when we do, we’re a good football team,” McCarney said. “Last year was ugly, they pounded us. When you get dominated like that, you have to find out why and fix it.”

Aggie quarterback Mark Farris threw for 248 yards and two touchdowns and added a rushing score. Farris is back under center this season and is averaging 225 passing yards per game and is completing 60 percent of his passes.

“Farris is a good athlete with a strong gun for an arm,” ISU linebacker Matt Word said. “He’s more experienced this year. We can’t let him get in a groove.”

While Farris has been successful through the air, the Aggies have struggled to put together a consistent running game.

The Aggies have used three different backs and none have over 300 yards through seven games.

On paper, the Cyclone defense has struggled against the run, but stepped up last week to stuff Oklahoma State’s running game.

On the other side of the ball, the Aggies own a stout defense, tradtionally nicknamed the “Wrecking Crew.” The unit ranks sixth nationally, giving up just 263.9 yards of total offense a game.

Leading the way is junior outside linebacker Jarrod Penright who is on top of the Big 12 Conference in sacks with 9.5.

Penright will be busy chasing around Cyclone quarterback Seneca Wallace Saturday. When told of Penright’s sack total, Wallace replied “Good for him.”

An experienced Aggie secondary will also have to deal with Wallace.

The Aggie secondary has been sterling, allowing only 142 passing yards a game, and has 12 interceptions.

“It’s a typical A&M defense,” McCarney said. “They’re dominant up front and have a great secondary. Three out of four guys are back from last year in the secondary.”

The Cyclones went nowhere against the Wrecking Crew last season. The team totaled 239 total offense yards and 2000 Big 12 leading rusher Ennis Haywood was limited to 75 yards.

Haywood is once again leading the conference in rushing, averaging 129 yards a contest. Last week, Haywood decimated the Cowboy defense with 196 yards and three touchdowns on 39 carries.

Wallace also had a big game last week, finishing 16 of 19 for 150 yards through the air.