Game-By-Game Predictions for Iowa State's 2014 Season
Paul Rhoads' Iowa State Cyclones lost nine games by an average of 21.4 points per game – headlined by a 28-20 deflating season opener at home against a mediocre FCS team in Northern Iowa – had an offense that was inconsistent and lackluster, a defense that was softer than a bag of marshmallows and players that carried the look of defeat wherever they went.
Fast forward to now: it’s more of the same.
There were signs of life from time to time on the offensive side of things, where the skills positions were the catalyst to any sort of success. Mark Mangino comes in to work his magic with otherwise very little to work with, and will need to squeeze every ounce of manageable production from his quarterbacks. (Did I mention there’s another quarterback competition this summer?)
With athletic tight end E.J. Bibbs, leading receiver Quenton Bundrage and a slew of capable running backs returning, Mangino’s balanced approach that emphasizes getting the ball into his best players’ hands should immediately make a difference for an offense that ranked ninth in the Big 12 in yards per play last season (4.82).
But even Oregon would have a difficult time winning games with this defensive unit. Iowa State allowed 432 points last season – its highest mark since 2003 – and there's no suggestion that it will be any better this fall.
Not that it will make too much of a difference, but the Cyclones lose five seniors on this side of the ball and are unproven in most areas. Sometimes a clean slate is exactly what the doctor ordered to rebound, but not here; there’s absolutely no single player that stands out, and there’s just not enough depth to hang around with any of the opposing offenses that the Big 12 has to offer.
And oh, the schedule. Not only does Iowa State get paired up with the three-time defending FCS national champions, but it gets upstart rival Iowa on the road, another matchup with Baylor, road trips to Stillwater, Austin, and Fort Worth, etc. (you get the idea).
To sum it up in short: It’s going to be another rough year for Iowa State – one that does not include a postseason berth or anything close to it.
8/30 – vs. North Dakota State: WIN
It’s taking literally everything within me to not pick North Dakota State here. But with no Craig Bohl and a ton of turnover – and the battle with complacency after beating Kansas State last season – I just have to imagine that Iowa State comes out just slightly better. I’m probably going to regret this.
9/6 – vs. Kansas State: LOSS
Will Kansas State be as good as it was in 2012 when it made a Fiesta Bowl appearance? Probably not, but it’s going to be damn near to it. Bill Snyder has put together another incredible depth chart by turning coal into diamonds, and the Wildcats will have no issues rolling over Iowa State.
9/13 – at Iowa: LOSS
There’s a chance that Iowa could win the Big Ten West Division this season, boasting a strong offensive line and a powerful running game. Iowa State’s defensive line is missing a ton of experience from a year ago, and the linebackers will struggle to beat blockers up front to the backfield.
9/27 – vs. Baylor: LOSS
Need I remind you what happened in Waco last season? Well, just in case you forgot, here you go. What’s scary is that Baylor’s offense could be even better, whereas Iowa State’s defense could be even worse.
10/4 – at Oklahoma State: LOSS
The Cowboys missed out on their opportunity for a Big 12 title in 2013 and face a mass exodus for the coming campaign. Still, there’s little to question about their offensive efforts, especially in a Week 6 matchup with one of the worst defenses in the country.
10/11 – vs. Toledo: WIN
Now at 1-4 and having been put through the ringer for five straight weeks, the Cyclones will be more than happy to prepare for what will be its second most-winnable game on its schedule – but that by no means guarantees a W. Having been snubbed out of a bowl opportunity last season, Toledo will be hungry for wins – and Iowa State isn’t too far from MAC competition.
10/18 – at Texas: LOSS
Texas might not have the depth or continuity to be a national contender yet, but the Longhorns are undoubtedly one of the most talented teams in the country.
11/1 – vs. Oklahoma: LOSS
Iowa State has been known to pull off the occasional Big 12 upset. That didn’t happen last year, and it won’t happen this year.
11/8 – at Kansas: WIN
For as bad as Iowa State’s defense can be, there’s an equivalent on the opposite spectrum. Kansas has had a lot of trouble finding the end zone under Charlie Weis – especially through the air – and will have the worst scoring offense in the Big 12.
11/22 – vs. Texas Tech: LOSS
Unless Davis Webb goes down with injury and Tech is forced to play Raider Red under center, this one will be a blowout.
11/29 – vs. West Virginia: LOSS
Surprisingly, Iowa State was able to rally a two-game winning streak to end the 2013 campaign, and one of those wins came in a 52-44 overtime shootout over Dana Holgorsen’s Mountaineers. West Virginia has actually progressed a bit through the years on defense, and I can’t imagine a Holgorsen-led offense will be as hard of scoring as it was last season, so advantage WVU.
12/6 – at TCU: LOSS
This actually isn’t a terrible matchup for Rhoads’ crew, but after a deflating loss in the home finale, I think the Cyclones will be ready to pack it in for the offseason. Besides, TCU should be downright nasty on defense again.
2014 Iowa State Projected Record: 3-9 (1-8)
Tyler Waddell is the College Football Blog Manager for FanIQ. Follow him on Twitter.