AMES — Iowa State’s Big 12 football schedule was broken into three three-game pods.
Coach Matt Campbell had a goal for each.
The first pod’s goal was to get out to a good start. Iowa State started the Big 12 portion of its schedule 3-0.
The second pod’s goal was to determine whether or not Iowa State was going to be a contender or pretender. The Cyclones went 2-1 and still controlled their own destiny in the conference.
The third pod was about whether or not the team could become the best version of itself. Iowa State went 3-0, beating Kansas State and West Virginia by a combined 97-6 and a ranked Texas team on the road.
Now, while most of the rest of the Big 12 plays one last game, Iowa State gets another bye week before the Big 12 championship game against Oklahoma on Dec. 19.
Campbell isn’t treating this bye week any different from the previous ones.
“For us, it stays right in rhythm with our season,” Campbell said. “We put a lot of priority on the bye week to go back and worry about and focus on our fundamentals and technique. I really believe we’ve had the ability to get better at our foundational fundamentals and techniques. That’s what’s going to be critical this week.
“It’s a great opportunity to self-evaluate and then hone back in on the fundamentals and techniques that really good football players and football teams play with. Hopefully we can really make some great growth.”
To make the most of its bye week, Iowa State has to stay free of COVID-19, something it has done throughout the season.
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But just because the Cyclones have had success up to this point doesn’t mean they can relax with the coronavirus mitigation and protocols.
“I don’t know how you do it other than you hope that you have enough kids and enough leadership inside your walls that feel like you want to finish the entirety of a season,” Campbell said. “Our kids have sacrificed a great deal since they’ve come back here in late May. It’s really hard. It’s really hard because they’re 18 to 22 years old. It’s really hard because a good bulk of them haven’t left the bubble since May. I think all of these challenges are hugely unique.”
Campbell has praised the senior leadership on his team since the beginning of the season. He’ll be leaning on them one more time.
“The only way to get through it is to have enough self-motivation and discipline and leadership within your walls to continue on this journey,” Campbell said. “To say I know the answer to that would be foolish because until we do it, and until we see what kind of team we have through these next two weeks — I guess we’ll find out.
“But I do know we have great leadership and we have great humans.”