Just that fast, the season for the Cyclones appears to be finished. Barring an upset of the Missouri Tigers next Saturday, ISU will be staying home for the holidays this year. I have particular sympathy for Austen Arnaud, who suffered a career ending knee injury and will not be able to play on Senior Day next week in Ames. It's a brutal blow to the young man who gave literally everything for his team.
I was struck by the emotionally drained performance of the Cyclones in Boulder. It's been a long season and it appeared as though they'd given everything they had left against the Cornhuskers last week in Ames. They looked like a team that was out of gas. It was painful to watch, and as I said last week this game terrified me. Apparently that fear was justified.
So how did the Cyclones fair?
Will Ben Lamaak Play?
The big Center did play against the buffs, but the offensive line looked lost for the majority of the day. The major strengths they had shown against Nebraska, protecting Arnaud and opening up the running game were non-existent in the thin air of Boulder, CO. It was hard to watch them regress so badly.
More after the Jump
Big Day for A-Rob
Alexander Robinson rushed for 22 yards against the Buffs. The Cyclones as a whole, thanks to the numerous QB sacks, had negative yardage in the running game. I'm not sure even Oklahoma managed to do that to the Cyclones. Without the running game, Arnaud was forced to win the game with his arm, and as has happened every other time, it didn't work. Even A-Rob didn't look his speedy agile self on Saturday, and when you take that away from the Cyclones, it's just about over except the shouting.
Can The Defense Blank Colorado?
I have to wince when I read what I wrote last Friday, I was hoping for a high-level effort by the defense, but the Buffs were able to grind out a running game and made none of the mistakes they've shown all season. It was almost like watching a different team. The team Wally Burnham prepared his defense for was not the team that showed up. As a result, Cody Hawkins had a field day against the Cyclones Defense. The D-line in particular, which had progressed so far in recent weeks, was virtually in-effective against the Colorado O-line.
So what are we left with? Our last home game against Missouri on Senior day for all the post-season marbles. If the Cyclones can play with the intensity they had against Nebraska, they have a chance. If not, the 5-7 season will become reality.
On a more positive note, Jerome Tiller played at a higher level than I've ever seen him play, after Arnaud went down. If he does go out and lead Iowa State to a bowl game, he'll be a virtual lock for the starting QB position next Fall. The good news is that Missouri is relatively one-dimensional. They like to pass a lot, which should make defensive planning easier. We'll get more in-depth about the Tigers as the week goes on.