Midseason report: Iowa State


Record: 4-2, 1-2

The Cyclones are overachieving yet again, but Paul Rhoads isn't kidding around when he says this team is capable of winning five league games, which would put them at 8-4. It'll be difficult, but the Cyclones have showed they're capable of doing it.

The defense is among the Big 12's best, led by linebackers A.J. Klein and Jake Knott, two of the league's best at the position. The Cyclones won in Iowa City over rival Iowa for the first time since 2003 in a 9-6 "Game of the Century," and nobody but Iowa State has beaten Tulsa yet.

TCU was playing shorthanded and on short notice, but Iowa State dominated a 37-23 win in Fort Worth before nearly knocking off Kansas State in Ames last week.

Three ranked teams remain on the schedule, but there's not a game left that the Cyclones can't win. Finding some clarity and consistency at quarterback would help make any of those wins happen. ISU showed up at No. 24 in the BCS rankings and Jared Barnett is likely the man to try and keep the Cyclones among the nation's top 25 teams. If he can't keep it going, though, Steele Jantz will be ready to go off the bench if he's needed. Jantz started the first three games of the year, but four turnovers in a loss to Texas Tech forced Rhoads to make a switch.

Offensive MVP: Josh Lenz, WR. You could give this to Shontrelle Johnson, James White, Aaron Horne or any of Iowa State's quarterbacks in a win, but Lenz has been the biggest threat on this offense and the most consistent throughout the season. Kansas State somehow held him without a catch last week, but he's caught 18 passes for 279 yards and four touchdowns. He also threw a touchdown on a trick play in the win over TCU.

Defensive MVP: Jake Knott, LB. Knott has a team-high 57 tackles and his 41 solo tackles are 16 more than any player on the team. It's amazing how much better he can look when he's back at full strength. He's already got a pair of interceptions and five tackles for loss. He's also forced a fumble and broken up three passes with half a sack, too. Klein's not far off, but Knott's been better over the first half of the season.