Big 12 Watch 2012: #9 Iowa State Cyclones


Out in Ames, the Cyclones have been done a nice job of earning a few bowl bids and becoming a formidable team. However, the Big 12 is really strong this season. It’s a wide open conference, but I’m not sure the Cyclones will fit in to that opening the rest of the league.

It’s a shame, too. Paul Rhoads was doing some fine work in Ames. They boast a dual threat QB in Jared Barnett. Also, they bring back a nice stable of tailbacks. However, their offensive line is going to have step up and give Barnett time.

Their defense is going to have a rough time stopping the elite Big 12 offenses, but they are fortunate to get Kansas State, Oklahoma, and West Virginia at home.

So why so low on the list? Purely the competition. I think Iowa State has a good team, but here’s the good and bad of having your tougher games at home. It’s nice to have the top tier programs walk in to your house, and go up against your crowd. However, it puts you at a disadvantage against the middle of the pack, because you have to go their place.

I really Jared Barnett, but I wouldn’t call him proven just yet. He had some solid performances in 2011, but he has yet to play a full season as a starter, and with the recent issues with Iowa State quarterbacks, hopefully, Barnett can stay on the field and perform. They’ll certainly need him to compete.

Iowa State’s schedule contains some tough games, and is ranked as the no. 3 toughest schedule in college football by Phil Steele. And you credit their non-conference slate for that.

The Cyclones kickoff the season with the Tulsa Golden Hurricane, but then face rival Iowa Hawkeyes on the road. They finish off their out-of-conference slate with Western Illinois in Ames, and get a bye week before a date with the Red Raiders of Texas Tech.

If Iowa State’s defense can get better as the season progresses, I could see them hanging around in more games, but if your name isn’t OU, Texas, West Va., or K-State, get ready for some hard fought wins, because any win this year will be well earned for the bottom half of the conference.