We're continuing our series today looking at the "most important" game of the year for each team in the Big 12.
I have my own opinions on that for every team, but I'll ask the fans what they think first before I weigh in on what game I'd pick and why.
You can define "important" in a number of ways, which is why this exercise should be intriguing.
Let's have a closer look at the next team up on our list: Iowa State.
Which is the Cyclones' most important game?
vs. Iowa, Sept. 14: The importance here is two-fold. In a deep Big 12, Iowa State really, really needs to go 3-0 in nonconference play, but Iowa State fans can tell you the simple truth is seasons feel better when you hold the state's bragging rights. The Cyclones have enjoyed the spoils of victory in each of the past two seasons, and have done so in dramatic fashion. The importance of being the best team in the state can be felt on the field and on the recruiting trail. There aren't many elite prospects in Iowa, but winning this games definitely helps you get them. Ever heard of Allen Lazard?
vs. Texas, Oct. 3: This one's all about exposure. Iowa State gets a mid-week game at home against the Big 12's biggest brand and one of the preseason Big 12 title favorites. Jack Trice Stadium will be hopping and the Thursday night stage will be a great chance for exposure. Iowa State has to validate that with a win. Does it make hosting the Longhorns the most important game of 2013 for a program still trying to build its reputation?
vs. Kansas, Nov. 23: Paul Rhoads has made his name by winning games in which he's and underdog, but Iowa State can't afford to lose games in which they're favored. No win in the Big 12 is easy, but lately, KU has been the closest thing. ISU's penultimate game of the season is against the Jayhawks, and it very well may be the Cyclones' best chance to clinch a bowl bid.
at Tulsa, Sept. 26: Just like the Iowa game, winning this will be key in cracking a bowl game, but it goes deeper than that. Tulsa smacked the Cyclones in the Liberty Bowl last year with an army of ISU fans in attendance. It's tough to imagine a more disappointing end to the 2012 season, and it's hard to see a loss as anything but another step back for a program trying to move forward. That's huge.
vs. Oklahoma State: Oct. 26: Call this one playing giant killer again. There's no bona fide Big 12 title contender this year, but I do see OSU as the best team. Iowa State gets to host the Pokes again, and that means opportunity. Jack Trice Stadium is rising fast as one of the toughest places to win in the Big 12, and knocking off one of the Big 12's best teams would be stealing a win and another great step for Iowa State's program.