Big 12 Sports Articles

HCS Op-Ed: Struggling Cyclones Searching for Answers Up Front

There was optimism for fans heading into Iowa State’s game against Big 12 power Oklahoma. The Cyclones (2-6, 0-4) were coming off a frustrating 48-45 loss at Texas in Austin, but the offense played well and had two weeks to prepare, which created a “what if” scenario against the Sooners.

Paul Rhoads has a knack for playing upset special, and the Sooners (6-2, 3-2) were coming in to Ames on a cold November morning, playing uninspiring football in conference play. Some websites, and “experts”, were even predicting the upset. Could the Cyclones pull off the unthinkable?

Just to put this series into perspective, Iowa State was 5-71-2 vs Oklahoma prior to Saturday. You read that correctly. Five wins, 71 (!!) losses, and two ties (whatever that’s worth). This is clearly one of the most lopsided series in the FBS. The last time the Cyclones beat Oklahoma was 1990, and the last win in Ames was back in 1960. Paul Rhoads and Co. had to be due for a victory…right?

Wrong. On Oklahoma’s first drive, sophomore quarterback Trevor Knight engineered a 2-play, 77 yard drive that took only 34 seconds. And just like that, its 7-0. It set the tone the rest of the way as Boomer Sooner coasted to a 59-14 victory over the Cyclones. The Sooners rushing attack ran for 510 yards in the victory, or just over half of the rushing yards Iowa State has accumulated so far this season.

It was well known before the season that Iowa State’s rushing defense was going to struggle, and it has done just that. Now, giving up 246.6 rushing yards a game, things have not been promising, not to mention it lost one of its senior leaders in middle linebacker Jevohn Miller. Redshirt freshman Alton Meeks looks to replace Miller in the middle the rest of the season. A multitude of injuries devastated the 2013 squad, and 2014 is seemingly no different. Key injuries to Miller, Quenton Bundrage, Jarvis West, and Nigel Tribune, have plagued the Cyclones offensive and defensive units this season.

The Cyclones will look to get back on track this Saturday against Kansas in the mythical “Hey, It’s Almost Basketball Season Bowl.” Optimism surrounds both the Jayhawks and Cyclones as one Big 12 bottom dweller is assured at least one victory in conference play this season. Even though Iowa State has beaten Kansas in its last four matchups, expect this game to be a dog fight. Kansas won’t run for 510 yards like the Sooners gashed Iowa State for, but the Cyclones’ front seven is vulnerable, and still searching for answers.

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