It’s that time again for your favorite annual series, where we come up with dream and nightmare scenarios for every Big 12 team for the upcoming season. Reality will fall somewhere in the middle. But imagine a season in which every single possible domino fell into place. And likewise, if all that could go wrong, well, did.
We continue the series with the Iowa State Cyclones:
It’s an ideal debut game for Matt Campbell as Iowa State dominates Northern Iowa to give its new head coach his first win. Running back Mike Warren rushes for 147 yards and two touchdowns while receiver Allen Lazard adds a touchdown reception in the win. Back-to-back road losses to Iowa and TCU are a step backward, but the Cyclones rebound with a win over San Jose State to finish September at 2-2.
A win over Baylor to open October sends the message that things might be different under Campbell. The postgame celebration is different too. Instead of the joy and passion of a Paul Rhoads locker room celebration, Campbell says simply, “This is what we do now” in the postgame locker room during a short video clip posted on Iowa State’s social media accounts.
Campbell’s confidence doesn’t help the Cyclones the following two weeks, however, as losses to Oklahoma State and Texas drop Iowa State below .500 again. The Cyclones continue to make Jack Trice Stadium an unpleasant place for opponents, knocking off Kansas State to improve to 4-0 at home. Not only do the Cyclones avenge last year’s disappointing loss to the Wildcats, veteran coach Bill Snyder has high praise for Campbell saying the first-year coach “is one of the best young coaches I’ve ever faced” after the game.
Oklahoma ends Iowa State’s unbeaten home record the following week, but a win over Kansas puts Iowa State within one win of bowl eligibility with two games remaining. Yet the most telling statement of the season to date occurs when Campbell, asked about having two games to get bowl eligible, is incredulous. “Our goal is to win both games and finish 7-5, not get bowl eligible,” he insists with disdain.
The Cyclones do exactly that, winning a shootout against Texas Tech before using three turnovers to knock off West Virginia in their season finale. Campbell remains one of the hottest coaching names in college football, turning down overtures from several schools before signing an extension and securing a top-30 recruiting class.
Iowa State narrowly tops Northern Iowa in its season opener before a pair of blowout losses to Iowa and TCU. After the Cyclones’ late September win over San Jose State, Campbell’s team goes winless over the next five games, including home setbacks against Baylor, Kansas State and Oklahoma.
The disappointing first two months of the season on the field is devastating off the field as well, as the hard work Campbell’s staff has done on the recruiting trail during the summer months unravels with only five of the Cyclones’ 17 current commitments remaining on the commit list heading into November. To top things off, Fred Hoiberg is fired from the Chicago Bulls just one month into the NBA season after a few spats with Dwyane Wade.
It’s a rough few months for Cyclone nation.
Iowa State earns a third win over Kansas to snap its losing streak, but the season ends with a whimper and a pair of losses to Texas Tech and West Virginia. Campbell’s tenure at Iowa State begins with a 3-9 record and things get even worse after the season finale as Warren and Lazard each bolt early for the NFL.