On Oct. 24 the Iowa State Cyclones will be blowing their way through Lincoln, NE to face the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
Will the Cyclones leave the Huskers of Nebraska tossed about and tattered in a path of destruction that leads from Lincoln's Memorial Stadium all the way back to Ames?
If it were to happen, it would likely go down as one of the biggest upsets of the year.
Iowa St has really suffered in the days since the Dan McCarney era ended. And although the McCarney era ended with a couple very tough end of season losses, where wins would have put the Cyclones in the Big 12 title game, he accomplished what so many struggled to do before.
He built ISU into a pretty decent program for a few years.
Smaller budget programs such as Iowa State really need the consistency in coaching that McCarney brought to the program.
Going on three coaches in four years will hurt any program, especially one that doesn't have the financial resources of some of its big brother conference brethren.
In the years since McCarney's firing things have taken a turn for the worse in Ames, and they are now struggling to stay out of the Big 12's cellar.
New Iowa State coach, and Ankeny, Iowa native, Paul Rhoads will likely lean very heavily on returning starting quarterback Austen Arnaud.
Arnaud is a very gifted and talented dual threat quarterback that should pose a challenge to Big 12 defenses. Word is that a spread offense will be installed in Ames.
Seniors Marquis Hamilton and Houston Jones return to lead a trio of second year receivers.
Leonard Johnson, Lonzie Range, Sedrick Johnson, and Jason Carlson are young wide receivers that will be looking to make their first marks on the program.
They also benefit from the return of leading rusher Alexander Robinson.
Rhoads is a defensive coach and has coached some great defenses at Pittsburgh and Auburn most recently.
The Iowa State defense will be lead by linebacker Jesse Smith, a former walk-on who has started 24 straight games.
Rhoads will get these guys to play hard and with passion. Yet the question remains, do they have the horses to stop, or at least slow down, the high flying offenses of the Big 12?
The Nebraska game plan I believe, and this may be the game plan through much of 2009, will rely heavily on an experienced line and two very good running backs to test the Iowa State defensive front.
Mix in some of Zac Lee's passing and testing the Iowa State secondary deep and Lee should have a nice day throwing the pigskin. I see Helu and Castille getting their yards and opening up the passing game for Lee and Nebraska's fast corp of receivers.
Defensively, I think Nebraska will have a pretty solid game against Arnuad and his Cyclone offensive teammates, but Iowa State will get in the end zone a time or two.
Expecting shutouts or low scoring games these days in an era of athletes all over the field is just too much.
In the end, Nebraska is just way deeper and more talented on both sides of the ball and wins going away.
Iowa St 17
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