Big 12: Who will transform tomorrow?

Every year, the preseason projections pile up.

Please, go ahead. Find one of them that had Iowa State prepping for a bowl game after the regular season. I'm guilty as charged: You won't find one here.

The Big 12 is too deep. Supposedly.

Iowa State wasn't deep enough. Supposedly.

On Saturday, the Cyclones will prove us all wrong yet again, and transform into a bowl eligible team for the third time in four years.

They'll have done it despite inconsistency at quarterback and the need to play both Jared Barnett and Steele Jantz at times throughout the season. They'll have done it despite losing a leader and one of their best defensive talents in linebacker Jake Knott to a shoulder injury.

The Cyclones went on the road to beat rival Iowa in Iowa City for state bragging rights for the first time in almost a decade. They went on the road to roll over then-No. 15 TCU, a Frogs team missing its quarterback but still possessing plenty of talent.

Baylor had been the team best at cracking bowl droughts the past two seasons, but the Cyclones clawed their way ahead of Baylor in the standings with a convincing win on Oct. 27 that convinced a whole lot of folks (myself included) that the Cyclones weren't messing around and wouldn't need a history-making upset to crack the postseason like they did last season against Oklahoma State and at Nebraska back in 2009.

All that stands between Iowa State and lending more credence to Paul Rhoads' work in Ames is a Kansas team that hasn't beaten a BCS conference team in its last 20 tries and hasn't beaten a Big 12 team in 19. Rhoads simply doesn't lose games when he's favored and loves to spring the upset.

No upset necessary this time.

Iowa State's going bowling.