Monday, November 5, 2012

The Last Three

I saw an interesting statistic today for the Rhoads era.  They have been 5-4 after 9 games in each of his first four seasons.  Most would look at this as a sign that they aren't improving.  I tend to disagree.  The truth of the matter is that each of the last two seasons ISU has competed with a 9 game conference schedule.  This means one less game against most likely a MAC opponent.  Also, the Cyclones are most likely facing the most difficult schedule Rhoads has faced yet to date.  Many predicted 3 wins, 3!  In each of the previous three seasons the Cyclones have struggled with "the last three" going 1-2, 0-3 and 1-2.  This year seems to be different.

Without the loss of Knott ISU could really be looking to make some noise in these last three games.  They will play the card that has been dealt like any college football team needs to do.  If you look at the progress that has been made you need to look no further than competing against the big boys.  The opponents ISU has lost to have a combined record of 26-8 with all but one of those losses to each other.  The Cyclone keep beating who they are supposed to beat along with staying in ball games they aren't supposed to be in.  Just a year ago ISU was a 27.5 point underdog AT HOME to the #2 team in the nation.  This year at home they were just a 6.5 point underdog to the #5 team in the nation.  In one case they won the game in a huge upset and in another they nearly pulled off the feat.  Many will look at the 5-4 record as marginal.  If you look at the losses this is a quality football team.

This time ISU is going to be a favorite in one, if not two of the "last three" and a 9.5 point underdog in the other.  ISU SHOULD win at least one ballgame going forward.  The sign of improvement is to win more than one.  They need that fourth conference win.  Rhoads has said as much in interviews.  They need to get to over .500 in the conference.  The big prize with a 7th win could be a trip to San Diego or even back to Tempe and a date with a very impressive opponent.

This is a sound football team that has performed well on defense and has struggled on offense in losses.  The defense ISU will face aren't exactly lighting the world on fire.  I think ISU goes to Austin and competes well in a loss.  I think they return to Lawerence and take care of business and beat a struggling West Virginia team on national television on Black Friday.  I will be at all three which if things go well will be an absolute blast.  Either way I look forward to watching ISU take a step forward when it comes to "the last three".

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