Anything can happen on any given Saturday during the college football season. Hell, Iowa State has shown it can even be on a Friday. But this team is 1-8 for a reason, and while somehow coming up with a win would be awesome for the Cyclones (who have just beaten Oklahoma five times in their previous 77 games), the more logical way to prepare for the game is how the football team can get ready for next season.
So before looking at keys to a win, let’s see how Iowa State can just be competitive on the field.
1) Somehow, someway, Grant Rohach needs to become much more accurate on his throws.
Rohach’s passing became comical last Saturday. The freshman quarterback knows he’s had a couple of bad performances throwing the ball, so I’ll definitely give him room to improve, but that’s a workload that will require at least another offseason. I’ll be the first one to point to Iowa State’s generally below-average offensive line, but even when not under pressure, some of Rohach’s throws were very off-target. You know it’s bad when your punter throws a better spiral on a fake punt than the starting quarterback had all game.
2) Jeremiah George is coming in with a chance to impress NFL scouts.
According to NFL Draft Scout, there’s potential for George to be a late-round draft pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. NFL scouts will look at film when he’s facing the better opponents, and this could be his showcase on defense. It helps that the defense finally had a complete game against TCU.
3) Aaron Wimberly needs to get back to being Aaron Wimberly.
It’s helped that Shontrelle Johnson and DeVondrick Nealy stepped up a bit while Wimberly was recovering, but Oklahoma’s defense overmatches Iowa State in every facet of the game. The Cyclones probably won’t have a good day in the air, so it will be up to the standout running back of this season to keep the offense on the field.
4) The defense needs to approach the game with confidence.
Both Blake Bell and Trevor Knight have been underwhelming in an inconsistent Oklahoma offense, and Iowa State’s defense have given less than spectacular quarterbacks fits like Oklahoma State’s Clint Chelf (for a quarter) and TCU’s Casey Pachall.
5) Iowa State needs at least two big plays.
We’ve mentioned it before: the Cyclones thrive on big plays, and need them to happen to not only keep this close, but to possibly edge out a victory in Norman. Iowa State does have three plays that have gone 95-yards or more for a touchdown; two kickoff returns by DeVondrick Nealy and Jarvis West and a 97-yard catch by Quenton Bundrage.