We're grading each Big 12 team's season right now, and we'll move on to the next team on the list: The Iowa State Cyclones.
More Big 12 report cards:
OFFENSE: Streakiness was the name of the game for this unit. Jared Barnett and Josh Lenz's inexplicable torching of TCU's defense got more and more curious (and more impressive) as the weeks dragged on. The Cyclones' most noteworthy performance and victory this season came in that 37-23 win in Fort Worth, their second-highest offensive output of Big 12 play. Steele Jantz also torched Baylor's defense for 381 passing yards and five touchdowns in a win over the Bears, but the underwhelming outings were far more frequent for this unit. The potential was there, but the offense struggled in losses to Texas Tech at home and Oklahoma State on the road. A 33-7 loss to Texas was one of the low points for the offense, which finished ninth in the Big 12 in total offense and scoring offense. The worst came in the bowl game, when 10 first-quarter points gave way to three quarters of no points in an embarrassing blowout loss to Tulsa in the Liberty Bowl. GRADE: D+
DEFENSE: Paul Rhoads has consistently had great defenses in his time at Iowa State, and defensive coordinator Wally Burnham did one of the best coaching jobs in the Big 12 this year. The Cyclones lost one of their team's rocks in linebacker Jake Knott, but still managed to finish third in the league in scoring defense. That stat alone kept a questionable offense in a whole lot of games. Iowa State held opponents under 24 points in all six wins, and plenty of those wouldn't have been wins without the defense's strong play. That would have meant no bowl game, too. A 9-6 victory over Iowa was one of the high points, but the Cyclones also held Baylor to just 21 points and forced a bushelful of turnovers in the biggest win of their season. GRADE: B
OVERALL: Iowa State yet again overachieved. I picked Iowa State to finish ninth in the Big 12, and heard from a few Iowa State fans who were angry after the season about me picking the Cyclones at that spot. Well, ISU may have gone 6-6 and lost a bowl game, but it still finished ninth in the Big 12. Winning six games and beating good teams like TCU and Baylor is no small feat, but after finishing with a losing record for the third season in a row, this year had to leave the Cyclones feeling a little empty. GRADE: B-