AMES — Which side of the ball needs more help right now, Iowa State’s offense or defense?
Both are struggling and are in need of a serious spark following Saturday’s 34-8 home loss to No. 18 Oklahoma State. The Cyclones, sky high two weeks ago coming off consecutive wins, including their first at Nebraska in 32 years, have two more opportunities to become bowl eligible.
Colorado comes to Jack Trice Stadium this week for a 1 p.m. game, ISU’s last of the year at home.
“We need to score some points,” said center Reggie Stephens, whose return to the lineup after an appendectomy didn’t do much for an offense that generated just 242 yards, its second-lowest total this season.
ISU (5-5, 2-4 Big 12) struggled to move the ball against Oklahoma State.
Tailback Alexander Robinson, the conference’s leading rusher coming in, finished with 51 yards on 16 carries. Quarterback Austen Arnaud, who had missed the previous two games because of a bruised right hand, was 14 of 27 passing for 188 yards and three interceptions.
He hooked up with Robinson on a 45-yard scoring pass in the fourth quarter, but the Cyclone offense did not run a single play inside OSU’s 35-yard line.
“I thought the defense played a heck of a game, but that doesn’t count for anything if we can’t score points,” Arnaud said. “We feel like we are an explosive offense with a good back and good receivers and a great line.”
In the last 13 quarters, ISU’s offense has scored just three touchdowns, one in each of its last three games against Nebraska, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State.
The defense, meanwhile, hasn’t been able to slow down anybody of late.
The Cowboys racked up 331 yards rushing, a career-high 206 and three touchdowns from running back Keith Toston.
Texas A&M had 267 rushing yards in a 35-10 win two weeks ago.
How can the Cyclones shore up a defense that’s been gashed and allowing 34.5 points a game over its last two.
“Playing gap sound defense and getting where you need to be,” defensive end Chris Lyle said. “Not getting blocked out of your gap. If you don’t find your gap, the running back will find it. That’s where you see big runs like that.”
Colorado has the Big 12’s worst overall record at 3-6, but is coming to Ames fresh off a 35-34 victory over Texas A&M.
If anyone is surprised by that score – well, they shouldn’t be.
“The Big 12 is in a crazy situation right now with people beating people left and right,” Coach Paul Rhoads said. “Talent is everywhere in the league. We are going to have to line up and execute to beat Colorado.
“You have to play with gameday and game length execution to win. That’s what the week will be about when we go tot work (Sunday).”