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Best case, worst case: Iowa State

On Monday, we started our series on the best-case and worst-case scenarios for each Big 12 team.

The premise of these fun posts is to take a look at what the season might look like if everything fell into place for each school, the best-case scenario for 2014. Conversely, we'll also show what might happen if everything goes wrong, the worst-case scenario.

We continue the series with Iowa State.

BEST CASE

Mark Mangino’s impact is felt immediately as the Cyclones put up half a hundred on North Dakota State in his first game as offensive coordinator, helping his new squad cruise to a season-opening win.

Even though the Bison have a track record of success against FBS teams, nobody pays much attention to the Cyclones' early offensive explosion.

ISU’s next four games change everything. A home victory over Kansas State starts the buzz, a road win over Iowa continues the momentum, a home upset over Baylor grabs national headlines and by the time the Cyclones secure another win at Oklahoma State, The entire nation is behind Paul Rhoads squad with national anticipation of ISU’s postgame locker room video becoming a stable of college football Saturdays in the fall.

At this point, Rhoads is tired of being proud.

A home win over Toledo cements a undefeated start halfway through the season, making Iowa State the toast of the nation.

Charlie Strong’s Longhorns didn’t get the message, though. Texas ends the Cyclones’ undefeated run in Austin, Texas, on Oct. 18 after a well-publicized pregame visit to Franklin Barbecue results in an overstuffed and sluggish performance from the Cyclones.

Rhoads implements a “no barbecue” policy throughout the program and the Cyclones rally to wins over Kansas, Texas Tech and West Virginia in the final five weeks of the season as the rally cry “Forget Franklin” becomes the symbol of Iowa State’s best season under Rhoads with an 9-3 record.

Cyclones fans, several of whom are sporting “Forget Franklin” shirts, show up en masse at The Alamodome for ISU’s triumph over Arizona State to cement arguably the best season in program history.

WORST CASE

Mangino’s offense looks out of sorts from Game 1 for the Cyclones.

Todd Reesing isn’t walking through that door, folks.

The Cyclones score three points in an season-opening loss to North Dakota State. Rhoads immediately calls Bill Snyder for advice on how to recover after a opening-game loss to the Bison. Snyder, thinking Rhoads is calling as some sort of ploy to get a pyschological advantage for the upcoming game between the two teams, forwards all of Rhoads' calls to a local radio station, which is left wondering about the increase in prank callers claiming to be the Cyclones’ head coach.

The result is four straight losses to K-State, Iowa, Baylor and Oklahoma State before Iowa State finally grabs a win against Toledo.

With Iowa State off to a 1-5 start and the Cyclones' offense averaging less than two touchdowns per game, Mangino decides to explode the offense. Iowa State runs the wishbone for the remainder of the season, shifting some of its best offensive talent into the backfield and simply handing the ball to guys like Aaron Wimberly and Quenton Bundrage. The change works in some games, helping the Cyclones to win two of its final six games, including an upset victory over Texas Tech in the snow.

Another 3-9 campaign, however, leaves the Cyclones heading into the spring of 2015 with more questions than answers. Again.

Previous posts:

June 16: Baylor