In his initial College Football Picks season at Iowa State, coach Paul Rhodes led the Cyclones to a bowl for the first time since 2005. Repeating that feat won’t be easy, Iowa State will be better in 2010, but the schedule will also be tougher. In 2009 the Cyclones didn’t have to face Texas or Oklahoma in big 12 conference play, this year they will face both of them on the road. The Cyclones also have non conference dates with Utah and a highly rated Iowa football team. Underestimating the Cyclones could be a dangerous thing, just ask Nebraska, Iowa State won at Nebraska in 2009.
In 2009 the Iowa State Cyclones offense ranked 73rd in college football in total yards, averaging 364.7 per game, the passing game was not that efficient, the Cyclones threw for less than 185 yards per contest, that ranked 94th in the FBS, the Iowa State rushing attack was pretty good, averaging 179.8 yards per contest, that ranked 36th in the nation and the unit scored just over 20 points per game.
The 2009 Iowa State defense gave up over 415 total yards per contest, and that ranked 99th in the country, the pass defense ranked 103rd overall, giving up over 250 yards per game and that raked 103 in the FBS, the rush defense was not a bad, Iowa State gave up a over 165.7, and that was 86th in the nation, the unit also allowed 21.8 points per game.
Senior Austin Arnaud returns as the starting quarterback, it almost seems to this sports handicapper that Arnaud has been around a decade. The job is his to lose, he had stiff competition in the spring from Jerome Tiller, who threw for 200 yards in the spring football game. Arnuad need to become more of a duel threat this season, if the offense is too succeed. Running back Alexander Robinson is back after finishing 2nd in big 12 rushing last year. Robinson is just 5’9, but he’s a solid 186 pounds and is very slippery and elusive. The Cyclones also return two of the top three receivers from the 2009 corps in Darius Starks and Jake Williams. The offensive line returns 4 starters, the unit yielded just 16 sacks. The star of the line is Kelechi Osemele, a second team all conference selection. The offense has talent, but Arnaud need to be more consistent and the receivers need to catch the ball better, if these things come together, the team can improve on their 20 point per game average.
As experienced as they are on offense the Cyclones are just as green on defense. Goner are all three starting linebackers from a year ago, including the Big 12 leading tackler Jesse Smith. Jake Knott and A.J. Klein are expected to start on the outside, while a junior college transfer will fill the middle linebacker position. The unit also lacks experience in the trenches, Bailey Johnson started eight games at nose tackle and Patrick Neal made nine starts at the end position. The secondary is solid with Leonard Johnson and Ter’Ran Benton at the corners and Strong Safety David Sims.