116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
AMES — Iowa State’s football record is 3-2 overall and 1-1 in the Big 12 Conference.
For a team that had expectations of going back to Dallas to play in the Big 12 championship game, the start of the season could feel like a disappointment.
But it’s important to point out Iowa State started last season 3-2 as well and finished with the best record in the conference.
On Saturday, against Kansas State in Manhattan, Kan., the Cyclones will try to right the ship once again and reach the goals they had for themselves.
“What I do know is that it’s great to have veteran leadership that understands what the next six or seven weeks looks like and feels like,” Iowa State Coach Matt Campbell said. “They understand the importance of getting better week in and week out and how critical it is to the success of our football team. We’ve been in this very similar moment each of the last four or five years. It’s no different. And we’ve either succeeded and became the best version of ourselves or we didn’t.”
The Cyclones undoubtedly became “the best version of themselves” last season, winning the first New Year's Six Bowl they ever played in.
Two seasons ago, Iowa State again started the season 3-2 and wasn’t able to reach its ceiling.
The Cyclones went 7-6 overall and got demolished by Notre Dame in the Camping World Bowl, a game Campbell has since called a wake-up call.
This game Saturday against the Wildcats could very well dictate how the rest of the season goes.
“You want to be getting better as the season goes,” Campbell said. “And I do think that's an area that we have been able to do well. Whether it's been at the quarterback position or the running game, or the defensive piece of things, I think we've been able to identify who we are, and try to make the right adjustments and put our best players in a position to be successful.
“I think no matter what it is, and especially a game like this, where talent and teams are very evenly matched, you're really good players are going to have to have a positive impact on the football game. Number one, we're gonna have to do a great job putting them in a position to have that kind of impact, and then number two, you've heard me say this, ‘A’ players are going to have to get As in these football games for us to be successful.
“So, I think all that coming together down the stretch is really important for our team to be successful.”
The players feel that sense of importance, too.
“What’s so weird about football is you only get 12 games unlike basketball where you get 30,” tight end Charlie Kolar said. “Every game is so important and sometimes you try to generalize trends from just one game. You can’t get caught up in that and the important thing is you just get better every week and I think we’ve done that. I think we’re in a better spot than we were last week and that’s the most important thing.”
The positive thing for Iowa State is, even though the Cyclones have started out slow, so have many other teams in the Big 12.
Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are at the top but have looked vulnerable. West Virginia didn’t make the jump many expected. Texas and Baylor have looked good in moments but came up short in games. TCU hasn’t looked particularly good. Texas Tech and Kansas are as bad as expected.
Kansas State is 0-2 in the conference, but that can be explained by opening the conference slate by playing Oklahoma State and Oklahoma.
“I think I said that from the get-go, (that) this was going to be a really unique and different year,” Campbell said. “I think we're finding that out and I think it'll only get crazier as the season goes.
“And to my point in that, if you're getting better, if you can stay the course, if you can navigate the outside noise and play your best football when you need to play your best football, then I think you have a chance to be a special team.
“I think those will be critical things for us as we go.”