Originally posted on College Football Zealots  |  Last updated 8/16/13
2012 Record: 6-7 (3-6 in Big 12) Head Coach: Paul Rhoads (24-27 at Iowa St, 12-22 in Big 12) Last Bowl Game: 2012 Liberty Bowl: lost to Tulsa 31-17 Stadium: Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, IA (capacity = 55,000) Home Field Advantage: ranked 52nd out of 69 BCS teams Schedule Glimpse: 2013 Schedule Link Out of Conference: 8/31 vs Northern Iowa, 9/14 vs Iowa, 9/26 at Tulsa Toughest Home Games: 10/3 vs Texas, 10/26 vs Oklahoma State, 11/9 vs TCU Toughest Road Games: 10/19 at Baylor, 11/2 at Kansas State, 11/16 at Oklahoma   Statistical Snapshot: 2012 Statistics Link Stat to Fear: only had 15 sacks in 2012 (9th in Big 12), gave up 213 plays of 10 or more yards (8th in Big 12) Stats to Cheer: allowed 23.9 ppg (3rd in Big 12) Advanced Stats (Football Outsiders 2012 FEI Ranking): 39th out of 124 teams   Personnel: Phil Steele's Returning Starters: Offense: 5, Defense: 4, Special Teams: 2 Key Defensive Returnees: FS Jacques Washington (91 tackles, 3 INT), LB Jeremiah George (87 tackles),  Key Offensive Returnees: QB Sam Richardson (541 yds pass, 58.2% completions, 8 TD, 1 INT), RB James White (505 yds rush, 5.1 ypc), RB Shontrelle Johnson (504 yds rush, 4.3 ypc), WR Jarvis West (31 rec), TE Ernst Brun Jr (26 rec) Top 2013 Recruits: OT Jake Campos, DE Rodney Coe, TE Emmanuel Bibbs, RB Aaron Wimberly, LB Alton Meeks       Inside Scoop with Jay Beck of Turfburner: CFBZ: Paul Rhoads has done a great job at Iowa State, but has he taken them as far as he can? Turfburner: I would say definitely not. Even though Iowa State has been to three bowl games during Rhoads first four seasons, they have never won more than seven games since he took over and that happened just once during his first season in 2009. They’ve also never won more than three Big 12 games in any season (Just for comparison’s sake, Dan McCarney won seven games or more in five of his last seven years at Iowa State). That’s not to say Rhoads doesn’t deserve a ton of credit because the program was in a big tailspin after two seasons with Gene Chizik at the helm. Rhoads took a 2-10 team from the season prior and immediately got them to a bowl game, not to mention he beat Nebraska during that first season. He’s also notched huge wins over Oklahoma State and beat Texas for the first time in school history. And let’s not forget Iowa State’s back-to-back wins over instate rival Iowa which very well may become three in a row this season. Rhoads need to keep turning over every rock in recruiting to get the type of athletes they play against on a weekly basis. He’s off to a good start in the 2014 class with the commitment of Allen Lazzard who is ranked as the top wide receiver in the country by Rivals. Lazzard’s commitment also led to Iowa State landing Tommy Mister who is a running back from Illinois that chose the Cyclones over several other suitors. If they can keep getting those types of players to Ames, there’s no reason to think Rhoads won’t continue building on the solid foundation he already has in place.   CFBZ: The Cyclones played three QBs last year. Who gets the rock this season? Turfburner: I don’t think there’s any question the guy under center this year will be sophomore, Sam Richardson. Steele Jantz graduated and Jared Barnett transferred in the offseason leaving Richardson as the man in charge. Richardson had a surprise debut last year when Rhoads inserted him into the game against Kansas during the first quarter after he pulled Jantz from the game. All Richardson did was complete 23 of 27 passes for 250 yards and four touchdowns. He then started the season finale against West Virginia and then again in the Liberty Bowl against Tulsa. He struggled a bit in the bowl game, but the experienced he gained at the end of the season should pay dividends in 2013. He’s not quite the runner Jantz or Barnett was but he can still make plays with his feet, something that’s always important in ISU’s offense. The biggest thing ISU should look for in him is cutting down on the turnovers that have plagued them the last several seasons. I’ve heard him called a smart quarterback more than once so as long as that translates to him making smart decisions with the football, the Cyclones should already be a step ahead of where they’ve been at the position.   CFBZ:  Looking at the schedule, what do you see as the most pivotal games for the Cyclones? Turfburner: Without picking one specific game, it’s going to crucial for Iowa State to go 3-0 in the nonconference portion of their schedule. Games against Iowa and at Tulsa are two the Cyclones need to find a way to win. Should they lose either, they’ll have to win four Big 12 games -something they’ve yet to do under Rhoads - just to qualify for a bowl game. As for the Big 12 schedule, how about the Texas game in Ames (on a Thursday night) to open the conference season? Everyone remembers the Oklahoma State game two years ago when nobody gave the Cyclones much of a chance yet they pulled off the upset. The Longhorns will be heavily favored but you can bet the crowd at Jack Trice will make it difficult for them to leave with a win. Rhoads is best known for pulling big upsets and if they can find a way to get another one, it would be a huge catapult into the rest of the season.   CFBZ: What will make the 2013 season a success in your eyes? Turfburner: At some point, just getting to a bowl game can’t be enough. Rhoads knows it and is doing everything in his power to continue raising the bar. But for me, qualifying for another bowl game would make it a successful season. Iowa State is still behind the eight ball a bit when it comes to explosive athletes on their roster and given the rugged schedule they’ll face, winning six games is no small achievement. I’d also like to see them break the three win barrier in Big 12 games. In each of Rhoads first four seasons, they’ve won three Big 12 games. That obviously has to improve in order for Iowa State to keep moving forward. Their margin for error isn’t great, but winning so called “toss up” games against teams like Texas Tech, West Virginia, and even Kansas State and Baylor this season, need to start happening on a more regular basis or Iowa State will continue to battle with the .500 mark on an annual basis.     Verdict:   Paul Rhoads has been very consistent at Iowa State in his first four years. All four win totals have been between five and seven in the four years and every year his team has won three conference games, no more and no less.Can they take the next step in the always loaded Big 12?   Every year under Rhoads so far, the offense has averaged more points then they did the previous season. They started out at 20.5 in 2009 and have moved up to 24.5 in 2012. It's not a staggering growth but it is a steady increase and that's a positive. Jay mentioned the turnovers in the Q&A and that's a big concern. They did cut them down from 35 in 2011 to 26 in 2012 but they were still second to last in the Big 12. Rising sophomore Sam Richardson takes over at QB this year after getting some experience at the end of 2012. Phil Steele ranks Iowa State's QB, RB and WR corps as the worst in the Big 12. Athlon ranks the QB and RB as the worst and the WR as the 8th best unit. So Iowa State has their work cut out for them on offense. The good news is that they do return a RB tandem that combined to run for over 1,000 yards last year. A big concern is that their top three receivers last year were seniors. The OL is definitely the strength of this offense. They must replace two starters but they do return three players with double-digits starts and four players who have starting experience.    On defense, the Cyclones had the third best scoring defense in the league last season. The bad news? They lose AJ Klein and Jake Knott. The DL must replace five of their top seven players. The LBs must replace two of three starters (Klein and Knott). The secondary must replace half of their starters. This is going to be a bit of a rebuilding job for the Cyclones and it's tougher for them to reload then it is some of the better recruiting teams in the league.    Vegas has the over/under on win totals for Iowa State at 5.5 and that feels about right. In three of the last four years, Rhoads has eclipsed that five win total but it's definitely going to be a fight this season.    Prediction: 5-7     Previous 2013 Pre-Season Previews: ACC- Boston College, Duke, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Miami, NC State, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, UNC, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest Big 12- Baylor, Kansas, Kansas St, Oklahoma, Oklahoma St, Texas, Texas Tech, WVU Big Ten- Illinois,  Indiana,  Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State,  Minnesota,  Nebraska, Northwestern,  Purdue,Wisconsin C-USA- ECU, FAU, FIU, Louisiana Tech, Marshall, Middle Tennessee, North Texas, Rice, Southern Miss, Tulsa, Tulane, UAB, UTEP, UTSA Independent: Army, BYU, Idaho, Navy, New Mexico St, Old Dominion MAC- Akron, Ball State, Bowling Green, Buffalo, EMU, Kent State, Miami (OH), Ohio, Toledo, UMass, WMU MWC- Air Force, Boise St, Colorado St, Fresno St, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, SDSU, SJSU, UNLV, Utah St, Wyoming Pac-12- Arizona, Cal, Oregon St, UCLA, USC, Washington, Washington St SEC- Arkansas, Auburn, Kentucky, Mississippi State, Missouri, Tennessee, Vanderbilt Sun Belt- Arkansas State, Georgia State, Louisiana, South Alabama, Texas State, Troy, ULM, WKU The American-  Cincinnati,  Houston, Louisville,  Memphis,  Rutgers,  SMU, Temple, UCF, UConn, USF  
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