IOWA STATE CYCLONES
• Conference: Big 12 Conference (Finished 6-7, including 3-6 and ninth place in the Big 12 last season)
• Returning offensive starters (5): RB James White; TE Ernst Brun; C Tom Farniok; RG Ethan Tuftee; RT Kyle Lichtenberg
• Projected starting offense: QB Sam Richardson (6-2, 207, So.); RB James White (5-8, 192, Sr.); WR Albert Gary (5-10, 203, Sr.); WR Jarvis West (5-7, 174, Jr.); WR Quenton Bundrage (6-2, 189, So.); TE Erst Brun (6-3, 251, Sr.); LT Jacob Gannon (6-7, 300, Jr.); LG Bob Graham (6-5, 296, Jr.); C Tom Farniok (6-4, 287, Jr.); RG Ethan Tuftee (6-4, 314, Sr.); RT Kyle Lichtenberg (6-6, 296, Sr.)
• Returning defensive starters (5): DE Willie Scott, MLB Jeremiah George, CB Jansen Watson, FS Jacques Washington
• Projected starting defense: DE Willie Scott (6-2, 224, Sr.); DT Collin Bevins (6-5, 277, #Fr.); NG Brandon Jensen (6-5, 301, Jr.); DE David Irving (6-7, 272, Jr.); WLB Jevohn Miller (6-1, 240, Jr.); MLB Jeremiah George (5-11, 219, Sr.); SLB Jared Brackens (6-1, 210, Jr.); CB Jansen Watson (5-9, 174, Sr.); SS Deon Broomfield (6-0, 206, Sr.); FS Jacques Washington (6-1, 220, Sr.); CB Kenneth Lynn (5-10, 165, So.)
• Returning specialists (2): P Kirby Van Der Kamp (6-4, 211, Sr.); K Edwin Arceo (5-9, 196, Sr.)
• Key losses: LB Jake Knott, LB A.J. Klein, QB Steele Jantz, NG Jake McDonough, RT Brayden Burris
• Top 5 additions: DE Rodney Coe (6-3, 285, Jr.); TE E.J. Bibbs (6-3, 250, Jr.); OL Jake Campos (6-7, 260, FR.); RB Aaron Wimberly (5-9, 173, Jr.); OL Shawn Curtis (6-5, 279, Fr.)
• 2012 review: The Cyclones crossed a lot of their "things that make a successful season" off the list in 2012. They beat Iowa for the second consecutive year, beating the Hawkeyes at Kinnick Stadium for the first time since 2002. ISU also ended the then-nation's longest losing streak at 12 with a victory at Texas Christian. ISU is one of only two teams, with Ohio State being the other, to beat ranked teams on the road in the last three seasons. The Cyclones also entered the coaches poll rankings for the first time since 2002.
Through injuries and ineffectiveness, ISU found a vein of consistency in dual-threat QB Sam Richardson, the clear-cut starter going into '13. The 6-2, 207-pounder threw eight TD passes with just one INT last season. He also averaged 5.7 yards a carry, a key number with the Cyclones triggering out of the zone-read option.
The Cyclones began 2012 with a rousing defeat over Tulsa, but couldn't hold serve in the rematch, falling to the Golden Hurricane 31-17 in the Liberty Bowl. ISU has just three winning records over the last 10 seasons, but coach Paul Rhoads has steered the Cyclones to bowls in three of his four seasons at the school.
• 2013 schedule: A31 -- Northern Iowa; S7 -- Off week; S14 -- Iowa; S 21 -- Off week; S26 -- at Tulsa; O3 -- Texas; O12 -- at Texas Tech; O19 -- at Baylor; O26 -- Oklahoma State; N2 -- at Kansas State; N9 -- TCU; N16 -- at Oklahoma; N23 -- Kansas; N29 -- at West Virginia
• Key stretch: The Cyclones have a really weird schedule. They start with Northern Iowa and then go off week, play host to Iowa and another off week. ISU plays two games in September and five in November. You could argue that the Cyclones need to sweep Iowa to have a shot at a bowl game, thus making the first four weeks of the season, in which they play two games, hugely important. But the next step is the steepest. ISU goes to Tulsa and then begins Big 12 play with Texas at Jack Trice Stadium, at Texas Tech and new coach Kliff Kingsbury, at Baylor and rocket-fueled offense and then a home game against Oklahoma State, which will be appearing at Trice for the first time since losing a shot at a national title their in 2011. That's an obstacle course.
• Trap game: Iowa State split with Tulsa last season, winning at home at Trice in September and losing in the Liberty Bowl in December. Tulsa coach Bill Blankenship has won 19 games in his first two seasons at the Conference USA school, including a school-record tying 11 last year. The Hurricane returns QB Cody Green (54 percent completions, 17 TDs to 11 INTs), but return just two starters on defense. ISU will be coming off a week off and will have Texas at Trice the next week. This is the trappiest of trap games.
• Glass half-full: Iowa State has had some knock-down, drag-outs with Northern Iowa, which, as far as FBS games go, will gladly be your huckleberry. Of course, ISU-Iowa is a 50-50 game anymore. It has been basically since ISU ended Iowa's 15-game domination in 1998. Let's say the Cyclones go 2-0 in the state. It's a Big 12 team, it should win at Tulsa. Texas isn't itself. A win at Trice isn't out of the question. Texas Tech has a first-year coach. ISU has beaten Okie State at Ames, as you certainly recall. K-State will have a new QB. Everything breaks right, Richardson performs and ISU fortifies on D, the Cyclones will bowl and could win eight games, which would be its most since 2000 (9-3).
• Glass half-empty: Iowa State lost two of the best defensive players the school has produced in, perhaps, the last 10 seasons in linebackers Jake Knott and A.J. Klein. The Cyclones return just one D-lineman in DE Willie Scott, who's looking at a possible suspension after a possession of a controlled substance arrest in April. (If you saw the pick six DE David Irving pulled off at TCU last season, you're sweating this a little less for ISU.) Defense will be something ISU will have to show opponents. QB Sam Richardson did nice things in his first season last year, but a reality check shows he finished 1-2 as a starter. Against teams that weren't Kansas, he completed 23 of 52 for 291 yards with four TDs and just one pick. If Richardson struggles, it's redshirt freshman Grant Rohach and probably some trouble in the form of a losing streak.
The Big 12 schedule is nine games. This season, the Cyclones will be on the road for five of those. Three of their home games will be Texas, TCU and Oklahoma State. It's possible the Cyclones will be the underdog in eight of their nine B12 games.
• The Iowa angle: The Cy-Hawk Trophy will be on the line. Remember all of the uproar over the trophy? Since that cyclone hit, Iowa State has held the Cy-Hawk. If ISU wins this year -- Iowa is 2-5 at Ames in the Kirk Ferentz era -- it will be three straight and the longest ISU winning streak vs. Iowa since five straight from 1999-2002. In the last 10 seasons, the home team is 7-3 in the series. For whatever it's worth, the home school this year, ISU, keeps all of the gate receipts. And if you haven't come to grips with it yet, you really should. The ISU game is set up to be Iowa's prime non-conference game for as long as the teams agree to a contract to face each other on an annual basis (current deal runs through 2017). Iowa AD Gary Barta has said Iowa always will play seven home games. The Big Ten will go to a nine-game conference schedule in '16. The ISU game syncs with that schedule. That leaves Iowa with home games it doesn't have to return for the other two non-conference games (starting in '16).
Quotable: “I’m not the most athletic runner by any means. I guess I can just get the job done. Spread offense, zone-read, pistol (formation) kind of thing — you have to be able to make plays with your feet as a quarterback.” — Sam Richardson, QB, after the spring game.
|Passing Yards:||S. Jantz||1603|
|Passing TDs:||S. Jantz||13|
|Rushing Yards:||J. White||505|
|Rushing TDs:||S. Johnson||2|
|Receiving Yards:||J. Lenz||459|
|Receiving TDs:||E. Brun||6|
|Offense (FBS Rank)|
|Passing Yards:||2783 (75)|
|Rushing Yards:||1951 (69)|
|Points per game:||24.5 (87)|
|Yards per game:||364.2 (94)|
|Field Goals:||12 (74)|
|Defense (FBS Rank)|
|Passing Yards:||3449 (108)|
|Rushing Yards:||2299 (83)|
|Points per game:||23.9 (38)|
|Yards per game:||442.2 (96)|
|Field Goals:||17 (95)|