Inspired by our friends at the Big East blog, we'll take a look back at what we thought the best and worst-case scenarios for each team were in August, and how it shook out now that January has arrived.
Best case: 8-4 with losses to Iowa, Oklahoma, Texas and Missouri.
Worst case: 2-10, with wins over Northern Illinois and Northern Iowa.
Reality: Iowa State hit right in the middle of our best and worst case scenarios at 5-7, coincidentally the same record we pegged them to finish with before the season. The Cyclones got off to a nice start at 3-2, and got the program's first win over Texas ever after lopsided losses to Oklahoma and Utah. For the second consecutive season, Paul Rhoads got wins in signature Big 12 venues, winning at Nebraska last season and at Texas this season. The Cyclones beat Kansas to give themselves three chances at bowl eligibility, but lost all three games against Nebraska, Colorado and Missouri.
Analysis: After knocking off Texas Tech in a somewhat shocking game in Ames early in the season, Iowa State made plenty of folks sit up and take notice once again this year. That attention went away with losses to Utah (68-27) and Oklahoma (52-0), but when the Cyclones knocked off Texas, the Longhorns were ranked, producing Iowa State's first road win over a ranked team since 1990. Even more shocking, Iowa State entered November controlling its own fate in the Big 12 North race, and came within a three-yard pass of having a real chance to win it. The failed faked extra point against Nebraska kept the Huskers in the division driver's seat, but the Cyclones suffered a really deflating loss to a renewed Colorado team playing under Brian Cabral the following week. That week, I picked them to achieve bowl eligibility once again in the face of a brutal schedule early in the year, but Iowa State got outplayed and lost its senior leader, quarterback Austen Arnaud, to a knee injury late in the loss. The following week, attempting to rally around sophomore Jerome Tiller, Iowa State suffered its second shutout loss of the season, a frustrating 14-0 loss to Missouri. Iowa State finished fourth in the Big 12 North with a 3-5 record, which is better than most pegged them for, but looking back on the loss to Colorado, one can't help but feel like Iowa State let a bowl game get away in 2010.