With the first game of the 2009 College Football Season just a few weeks ago, it's the perfect time to start looking at the schedule, and guessing how we think our Cyclones will do.
What I like to do when looking at the season is to break up the 12 games into quarters. Looking at it this way makes a lot of sense to me. The first and last quarters are the two most important in a football game. You want to start strong and you want to finish strong. In my opinion, the football season is the same way. When the goal is to be bowl eligible, starting the season strong and ending the season strong the gives you a real chance at getting to 6-7 wins.
Now some of you might be saying "well mplscyclone, the middle two quarters matter also", and then pointing out examples of games ISU has lost playing well in the first and fourth quarter, but poorly in the second and third quarter. Don't get me wrong. You want to do well in the middle also. All I am saying is that if you gain advantage at the beginning and finish strong at the end, all you have to do is hold steady in the middle to have a shot to win, or in this case to be bowl eligible.
Here is how the quarters look for the 2009 Iowa State Football Season:
First Quarter: North Dakota State (NDSU), Iowa, at Kent State
Second Quarter: Army, Kansas State (in KC), Kansas
Third Quarter: Baylor, at Nebraska, at Texas A&M
Fourth Quarter: Oklahoma State, Colorado, Missouri
I am going to break down each of the games in the first quarter. We will talk about the second, third, and fourth quarter in future posts during the week.
NDSU: Win easily. NDSU is a FCS school (formerly 1-AA), who went 6-5 last year including losing to South Dakota State. If you remember, South Dakota State is who we waxed in the season opener last year. Also, NDSU have had discipline problems, and it might be a shorter list of who is eligible to play instead of ineligible due to suspensions.
Iowa: Obviously the toughest and most pivotal game of the first quarter. ISU has won 7 out of the last 11, and we haven't lost at home to Iowa since 2003. At the same time this game is never a slam dunk. To me, Iowa has a better Offensive Line and will probably have a solid Defensive Line, even with the losses of King and Kroul. My mind tells me that if you have a better Offensive Line and Defensive Line than your opponent, then you will probably win the game.
My heart tells me that we lost a close one with a better Iowa team than this years (I am guessing 2008 Iowa will be better than 2009 Iowa, due to losing their DTs and Greene), and two years ago we beat Iowa without scoring a TD. It also says no effing way that Iowa comes into OUR HOUSE and wins!
So I keep going back and forth.
Arnaud is an upgrade to Stanzi. I can see situations were Stanzi gets protection from that good Offensive Line, yet makes a stupid mistake. Austen Arnaud typically doesn't committ the stupid turnover that Ricky Stanzi has done at times. Last year, Iowa had the advantages on the Offensive Line, Running Back, and the entire Defensive Side of the Ball, yet we outgained Iowa 325 to 240, and got more first downs (18 to 11). We were able to stay in the game because of our QB and WRs. Now that we're playing at home, I think ISU gets it's 8th win in 12 years against Iowa.
With a rivalry game like this, you have to throw some logic out the door. Usually Iowa is favored and is the better team on paper, yet ISU still finds ways to win a majority of the time in the last several years.
Kent State: We don't make fun of Kent State - At least I don't since Kent State beat us in our season opener in 2007. Pretty rough day: First game under a new coach, under the lights, all the hype, and we lose to a team in the MAC. Anyhow, I think this year will play like last year's 48-28 win. Kent State does return running back Eugene Jarvis for his Senior Year. Thier mobile QB Edelman has graduated, so Kent State will be going with a relativley new QB, which is a big plus for ISU.
A big problem area for Kent State last year was Special Teams. If you remember last year, ISU blocked 2 punts to set up for some easy scores. Hopefully we can make some big plays on Special Teams, such as a punt return/kick return for a TD, or a blocked punt .
As a fan this game does worry me a little bit: I think we're much better than Kent State, but road night games aren't the most friendly to ISU, so you never know what will happen. I think we win by 2-3 TDs as long as we play at a high level.
Overall, I have us going 3-0 and halfway to becoming bowl eligible in the first quarter. Really it's a nice opening schedule, particularly for a new coaching staff. You've got 1 FCS school, 1 MAC School, and a tossup game against your rival at home. Anything worse than 2-1 at this point in the season, I think we will have a reason to believe it will be another long year in Ames.
What are your thoughts on the opening quarter of the season? How do you see it? Am I crazy for having us 3-0 at this point, or do you see it the same way?
On Tuesday, look for my thoughts on the second quarter of the season!