It’s here, the annual Big 12 Football Pillow Fight (pictured above). I’m just a bit excited because this seems like a game that we just might be able to win. To help get some insight on this exciting matchup, I reached out to Kevin Fitzpatrick over at Wide Right & Natty Lite, the SB Nation site devoted to covering the Iowa State Cyclones. He was kind enough to answer a few questions for us.
RCT: With the hiring of a new football coach in the offseason, what kind of expectations were there for this team this year? Is it safe to say that despite the record, this team is actually ahead of schedule?
WRNL: Expectations for this team were somewhat mixed heading into the season. Of course, the irrational part of the fan base wanted/expected us to contend for a bowl game, but the level-headed people knew that would be tough due to offseason attrition and learning Coach Campbell’s system. The consensus was 3-4 wins was the expectation, with year 2 being the time to realistically have a shot at a bowl game.
Obviously, having just one win so far this season is a bit disappointing. Iowa State should never lose to UNI like they did to open up the season. However, I think it’s definitely safe to say that this team is ahead of schedule despite its record. The Cyclones have lost five games by 10 points or less, and those losses include games against Baylor, Oklahoma State, and Oklahoma. A couple opposing coaches have called ISU “the best 1-win team in the country,” and I think that’s accurate.
RCT: Who are the main contributors on both offense and defense for this team? Who should we expect to hear a lot from on Saturday?
WRNL: Allen Lazard is the most gifted player on offense. At 6-foot-5, he’s got great size and has the potential to play on Sundays with his skillset. Coming into the season, I would have also mentioned Mike Warren, but Warren has taken a noticeable step back this season with a banged-up offensive line and an ankle issue that’s bothered him the past couple weeks. True freshman David Montgomery has become the main back for ISU, but he was pulled with concussion-like symptoms in last week’s game against Oklahoma, so he may not be 100% either.
On defense, Kamari Cotton-Moya is a hard-hitting safety that provides good support in the run game when ISU’s subpar backers can’t get the job done themselves. Brian Peavy is a small, but talented player at cornerback. The obvious strength for the Cyclones on defense is their secondary, if you haven’t figured that out already.
RCT: Given that there isn’t a lot to look forward to for either of these teams, what do you expect for these programs in the coming years? Any chance that another team (maybe Baylor) falls to the depths of these two programs or they somehow become competitive in the near future?
WRNL: I fully expect Baylor to drop off with their downturn in recruiting. That program is going to be a perennial loser, maybe as early as next season. Iowa State should take a step forward next season with an improved offensive line (more experience, and add a couple guys who redshirted or were injured this season). Another crop of Campbell recruits will be good as well, as we currently have the top-ranked class in ISU history lined up to come in for 2017.
I’m admittedly not an expert on Kansas football, but there’s nowhere to go but up, right? I wouldn’t mind seeing you guys rise the ranks of the conference along with us in the coming years. #Big12North
RCT: Which do you think is higher, total points scored or number of separate calls that ISU fans boo about when Kansas comes to town this season?
WRNL: Oh, we’re still caught up on the booing thing? Pardon us for trying to do everything we can to help the team win.
But the answer is total points scored. I could actually see tomorrow being a game where one or both teams scores 30+ points.
RCT: Prediction Time! Who wins this game? I’m actually surprised I can honestly ask that question…
WRNL: Iowa State. And I’m actually pretty confident about it. The team has taken big steps since the beginning of the season and they just played their best game against Oklahoma in years… Now’s the time for ISU to show they can put one in the win column.
I’m going 38-21, Cyclones.
RCT: BONUS - Which would you prefer, a personal chef or personal assistant?
WRNL: That’s a toughie. I’d probably go with personal chef. One of the hardest parts about eating well is it actually involves standing in the kitchen and putting in effort every day. I can handle making the occasional meal every now and then, but having someone cook and put plates of well-prepared food in front of me every day would be awesome, I think. Sign me up for never having to worry about cooking again.
A big thanks to Kevin for helping us out. Don’t forget to check out the questions that I answered for him. They will probably be up early in the morning.