Big 12: Grant Mahoney
1: Number of active Big 12 players with more than 1,000 yards rushing after Henry Josey seriously injured his knee.
1,006: Rushing yards by K-State quarterback Collin Klein.
1: Number of quarterbacks nationally with more rushing yards than Klein. (Chandler Harnish, Northern Illinois)
13: More yards rushing by Harnish than Klein.
2: Rushing touchdowns needed by Klein to tie Ricky Williams' single-season record of 26.
192: First downs in conference play for Texas A&M, the most of any team.
6: First downs allowed in conference play separating No. 1 Texas (119) and No. 2 Oklahoma (125).
151: First downs allowed by the Big 12's No. 3 team (Iowa State).
22: Fumbles by Texas Tech opponents, the most in the Big 12.
11: Fumbles recovered by Texas Tech, tied for second-lowest percentage in the Big 12.
29.41: Fumble recovery percentage by Texas A&M. Aggies opponents have fumbled 17 times. A&M has recovered five.
7: Teams in the FBS with a lower percentage than Texas A&M.
114: National rank in time of possession for Oklahoma State, at just under 27 minutes per game.
2: National rank in scoring for Oklahoma State, at 51.7 points per game.
1: Player in the FBS with more interceptions than K-State's Nigel Malone, who has seven. (David Amerson, NC State)
3: Touchbacks on kickoffs for Kansas kickers. Iowa State's Grant Mahoney is the Big 12's only other kicker with less than 10.
48: Touchbacks on kickoffs for OSU kicker Quinn Sharp.
10: Oklahoma State players with an interception. No other Big 12 team has more than seven. Texas A&M and Texas Tech have the fewest players with interceptions, with four.
The pewter trophy of a family sharing an intimate moment around a bushel of corn lived a short, ridiculed life.
But thanks to the Cedar Rapids Gazette, here's a look at the new trophy.
This trophy is only an interim version, which features what looks like the same base as the original Cy-Hawk trophy.
As for the game? Iowa State bounced back from a rough start and two red zone fumbles to tie the game at 10 on a perfect 53-yard field goal from Grant Mahoney just before halftime.
"Great kick, great composure by him," coach Paul Rhoads told the sideline reporter on his way into the locker room. "We finally stopped playing give away and started playing take away."
They beat Colorado 26-0 earlier this year in the conference opener.
The interesting thing for Missouri is its offense got outgained by Iowa State, 332-206, and both teams had 17 first downs. Missouri didn't turn the ball over, and Iowa State had just one.
Two missed field goals by Iowa State's Grant Mahoney were obviously huge. That said, Missouri knows any road win in the Big 12 is good, and with Nebraska currently struggling with Texas A&M in College Station, their Big 12 North hopes are still alive.
Oklahoma will be sure to note to anyone who'll listen after its game at Baylor that it made it on the plane away from Norman.
Few would have been surprised if the 50-10 beatdown Oklahoma is currently putting on Baylor would have happened in Norman. No one was too surprised when Oklahoma did the same to Texas Tech with a 45-7 win at Owen Field last week.
But these Sooners came to play Baylor as seven-point favorites, and have played by far their best game of the season away from home.
They've forced three turnovers, including an interception returned for a touchdown by Ronnell Lewis early in the third quarter. Landry Jones has topped 300 yards passing and Ryan Broyles has 11 catches.
Meanwhile, Baylor's high-powered offense hasn't been able to do what it's done for most of the season, and just gave up a safety on kickoff coverage. Baylor has only 192 yards of offense.
So, Oklahoma has done what it's always done against Baylor. Now, the question becomes: Can they do it with the season on the line next week against Oklahoma State in Stillwater?
Nebraska coach Bo Pelini went with experience in today's game against Iowa State when he started Zac Lee for the seventh straight game this season.
Freshman Cody Green was considered as a starter before Pelini went with Lee.
That supposed savvy didn't help as the Cornhuskers' Roy Helu Jr. fumbled on Nebraska's first offensive snap.
Four plays later, Grant Mahoney booted a 52-yard field goal to put the Cyclones on the board.
The Cyclones are playing without their two key offensive players. Quarterback Austen Arnaud has been benched with a bruised hand and tailback Alexander Robinson is out with a pulled groin muscle. Jerome Tiller got the start for the Cyclones at quarterback and Jeremiah Schwartz will start at tailback.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
1. Texas: It wasn’t pretty, but the Longhorns’ 38-14 victory over Colorado was a good lesson as they prepare for the Red River Shootout. The running game struggled mightily, producing a season-low 46 yards as top backs Vondrell McGee and Tre’ Newton both were dinged up. Those absences only paved the way for a career night for Jordan Shipley, who is becoming one of the nation’s top receiving/return threats. And the Longhorns are playing some stringent defense after limiting their last three opponents to an average of 15 yards rushing per game. Colorado produced only 127 yards, giving the Longhorns two efforts of holding opponents to less than 130 yards this season for the first time since 1952.
2. Nebraska: The Cornhuskers’ defense played at a dominating level against Missouri as it gradually wore down the Tigers before their 27-12 triumph. Ndamukong Suh had a huge game to key a brutal pass rush that won the game for the Cornhuskers. Zac Lee was streaky, but still came up big during a stretch of 3 minutes, 32 seconds early in the fourth quarter when the Cornhuskers took the lead against the fading Tigers. It won’t get any easier for Nebraska this week as Texas Tech’s explosive offense comes to Lincoln. The Cornhuskers rank second nationally in scoring defense, third in pass efficiency defense, 14th in pass defense and 15th in turnover margin. But Tech has won the last three games of the series, scoring 70, 37 and 34 points against Nebraska.
3. Oklahoma State: The Cowboys had a gritty effort against Texas A&M, claiming a 36-31 victory despite not having Dez Bryant (suspension) and Kendall Hunter (ankle). Keith Toston filled in for Hunter with 204 total yards, and a group of receivers stepped up to replace Bryant in the comeback victory. Improved quarterback pressure helped Oklahoma State notch four sacks in a big step forward after its first conference game. A tough game with Missouri is up next as the Cowboys need to continue their recent balanced offensive success.
4. Kansas: A huge aerial effort by Todd Reesing, Kerry Meier and Dezmon Briscoe powered the Jayhawks to a 41-36 victory over Iowa State. It wasn’t pretty, but it was still a win. In coach Mark Mangino’s own words, the Jayhawks were exposed by Iowa State’s underrated offense. Kansas had enough offense to win the game and escape with a share of first place in the Big 12 North. Can the Jayhawks do the same against the better offenses they will be facing in the future?
5. Oklahoma: Sam Bradford is back and the Sooners appear to have things on an uptick heading into the Texas game. Bradford was outstanding in his first game back, passing for 389 yards despite having 11 passes dropped by his receivers, including three in the end zone. The Sooners allowed Baylor third-string quarterback Nick Florence to carve them up for 262 yards, so their defense is a concern heading into the Texas game. They must show more consistency in the red zone and play better defensively if they have any hopes of claiming the upset Saturday at the Cotton Bowl.
6. Missouri: What happened to the Tigers in that driving rain in Columbia last Thursday night? After dominating play for three quarters, the Tigers fell apart late as they allowed the Cornhuskers to roll up 27 points in the final quarter to steal the victory. Blaine Gabbert threw two crucial interceptions in the fourth quarter and the Tigers couldn’t run the ball consistently enough to take pressure off Gabbert. The defense played well until collapsing after all of the turnovers in the fourth quarter. And it won’t get any easier as the Tigers visit Oklahoma State.
7. Texas Tech: A big effort by Texas Tech’s first backup quarterback to start for Mike Leach should help contribute to Leach’s first QB controversy. The offense sizzled with Steven Sheffield in charge, scoring nine touchdowns on their first 10 possessions to blow open a 66-14 victory over Kansas State. The Red Raiders did a nice job of neutralizing leading KSU rusher Daniel Thomas, who was limited to a season-low 49 yards on 11 carries -- with only 15 of those yards coming after the Wildcats’ first offensive series. Leach was playing coy on who his starting quarterback will be, but the Red Raiders will face a huge challenge in Nebraska with whoever is chosen as the starter.
8. Baylor: The Bears moved the ball well in Florence’s second start, but were done in by their inability to score against Oklahoma’s stingy defense in the second half. Baylor produced only two first downs with five three-and-outs and two turnovers. The defense wasn’t bad as it limited Oklahoma to four field goals on red zone possessions to start the second half until Bradford’s late touchdown. The Sooners wore down the Bears before producing 592 yards to extend their winning streak over Baylor to 19 straight games. It was a definite step back after all of the excitement for the Bears during their 3-1 nonconference performance, showing them how much more competitive Big 12 play will be.
9. Texas A&M: After a promising 3-0 start, the Aggies have fallen apart with disappointing losses to Arkansas and Oklahoma State. The struggling trends in those losses make bowl aspirations seem like a fleeting hope. The Aggies struggled protecting Jerrod Johnson against Oklahoma State, allowing four sacks. And the Aggies' defense couldn’t make a play down the stretch to get the Cowboys off the field as they ran the clock on their final possession to wrap up a 36-31 victory. Mike Sherman can only hope these games will help build experience for his young team that featured seven freshman starters on Saturday.
10. Iowa State: Just when it seemed it couldn’t get any more excruciating for Paul Rhoads and the Cyclones, a game like Saturday’s loss to Kansas happened. After losing the previous week against Kansas State by a missed extra point, few expected the Cyclones would match up with No. 16 Kansas. The Cyclones gave the Jayhawks everything they wanted and came within an overthrown pass from Austen Arnaud to Darius Darks at the end of escaping with an upset victory. Alexander Robinson’s return helped rejuvenate the offense after he rushed for a career-best 152 yards, despite recovering from a strained groin muscle. The kicking game must improve after Grant Mahoney missed two extra points, and a 26-yard field goal never was kicked because of a low snap. The Cyclones can’t afford those kicking-game errors in close games.
11. Kansas State: The Cyclones took a huge step backward after getting blown out in a 66-14 loss at Texas Tech -- the most points ever allowed by a team coached by Bill Snyder. The KSU defense came into the game ranked seventh against the pass, but allowed eight TD passes -- most ever against a team in the school’s history. Grant Gregory started, but the broken plays that he turned into touchdowns last week against Iowa State resulted in sacks against Texas Tech. Carson Coffman may have won his starting quarterback job back, but that determination will be made in practice this week. The huge loss has made a bowl trip a virtual impossibility unless the Wildcats claim home victories in the next two weeks against Texas A&M and Colorado.
12. Colorado: It was one of the Buffaloes’ best performances this season, but still not good enough against Texas, who ran them out of the stadium late in a 38-14 victory. The Buffaloes were undone by critical mistakes on special teams and turnovers. Perhaps the most interesting development was when coach Dan Hawkins decided to play backup quarterback Tyler Hansen, effectively ending his chance to redshirt this season. Hawkins said he’s settled on Hansen as his starter. It will be interesting to see if that move settles Colorado’s offense.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Is there any Big 12 team that is haunted with more bad luck than Iowa State?
Another chapter to the Cyclones' stories of woe occurred Saturday when Emmanuel Lamur blocked a PAT in the final seconds, preserving Kansas State's 24-23 victory over the Cyclones.
Iowa State rallied as Austen Arnaud hit a pair of clutch passes to set up the Cyclones with a chance to tie. His 23-yard TD pass to Jake Williams got them close with 46 seconds left.
But Grant Mahoney, who was having a strong season for the Cyclones, had his extra point blocked by Lamur to preserve the Wildcats' triumph.
It was a gutty performance by KSU, capped by two fourth-quarter touchdown passes by Grant Gregory, who finished with 206 yards in his first start.
The way that Gregory played, the former South Florida transfer appears to have won the Wildcats' starting job heading into next week's game at Texas Tech.
The loss has to be especially bitter for new ISU coach Paul Rhoads, who had his team in position to start the season 4-1 with strong bowl hopes.
But the loss settled in final moments means that the Cyclones still have to find a way to cobble together three wins in conference play to get to six victories.
Losing like he did today is the first time that Iowa State's bad luck bit Rhoads. I bet he'll be kicking himself about the blocked conversion for a long time.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Oh, so close to perfection last week.
I came close to my first perfect week of the season, missing only on Texas Tech’s late collapse at Houston.
I’m hoping for better luck this time around with an abbreviated schedule of six games that will only feature seven Big 12 teams in action.
Here are my picks:
West Virginia 34, Colorado 17: The Mountaineers will be intent on gaining revenge for their loss last season in Boulder, along with bouncing back from their recent loss at Auburn. The Buffaloes should have Darrell Scott and Rodney Stewart close to 100 percent, although they should struggle against West Virginia’s imposing run defense. West Virginia quarterback Jarrett Brown is looking for some retribution after he was knocked out of the Auburn game after earlier contributing five turnovers. Look for the Mountaineers to try to dictate tempo by running Noel Devine (16th nationally in rushing) against a weak Colorado rush defense (103rd nationally). West Virginia has too many weapons to keep this from being very competitive.
Iowa State 27, Kansas State 24: The winner of "Farmageddon" at Arrowhead Stadium will take an early step to staying out of the Big 12 North cellar and perhaps contending for a bowl berth. Austen Arnaud has played better in recent games and Alexander Robinson's cutback style has emerged in Tom Herman’s running attack. The Cyclones will face an underrated Kansas State defense that ranks among the top 26 teams in each of the major statistical categories of rush defense, pass defense, total defense and scoring defense. In order to be successful, Arnaud will have to make some plays and stay away from turnovers. But in the end, this game will be settled in the special teams. Kansas State needs to get Brandon Banks involved and Iowa State hopes that Mike Brandtner’s directional punting keeps the Wildcats bottled up. I like Iowa State by a small margin because it has better kicking with Grant Mahoney over Josh Cherry.
Texas Tech 56, New Mexico 20: “The Dysfunctional Bowl” will feature two programs that have been featured in the headlines for reasons off the football field. New Mexico coach Mike Locksley scuffled with his assistant J.B. Gerald while Mike Leach banned Twitter usage among his players after some critical comments were made about him by players after their tough loss at Houston last week. The Red Raiders have way too much offense in this one. Taylor Potts and the Tech offense should be able to pile up the points and yards -- particularly if the Red Raiders’ running game emerges again. The weak New Mexico defense ranks 111th on the ground and 107th or worse in the other three major defensive categories. Everything will be peachy for the Red Raiders after a big win in this one.
Baylor 34, Kent State 14: It will be interesting to see how the Bears approach this game after losing quarterback Robert Griffin to a season-ending knee injury and backup Blake Szymanski’s uncertain status with a bruised shoulder. The Bears still have enough offensive weapons to win, particularly against a Kent State defense that allowed 552 yards last week, but produced five turnovers in a 29-19 victory over Miami (Ohio). I’m expecting Baylor to lean on its rushing attack keyed by Jarred Salubi and Terrance Ganaway to dictate the game for the Bears. The loss of Griffin will hurt, but Baylor still has too many weapons to worry in this one.
Texas A&M 35, Arkansas 34: Texas A&M hasn’t faced a top-notch defense and has posted some monster offensive and defensive numbers attributable to its weak competition. That won’t be the case in this one as the Aggies will face a potent Arkansas passing offense keyed by Ryan Mallett and Greg Childs. In the end, Jerrod Johnson, Ryan Tannehill and Uzoma Nwachukwu should be able to exploit a weak Arkansas pass defense that has played better teams, but still ranks 119th nationally in pass efficiency defense.
Oklahoma 24, Miami 14: The big question all week is whether we will see Sam Bradford back in the lineup. The Sooners likely don’t need him -- particularly if backup Landry Jones shows the form he employed in his record-breaking start against Tulsa. And he has a playmaking Oklahoma defense that has been responsible for 12 sacks and nine takeaways primed for the challenge. Miami is coming to the end of the nation’s toughest four-game scheduling gauntlet to start the season. Virginia Tech's defense showed some cracks in Miami's offense as Jacory Harris struggled through a miserable game. And it won’t be any easier this week when the Sooners bring one of the nation’s best defenses to Land Shark Stadium.
Last Week: 9-1 (90 percent)
Season: 35-9 (77.3 percent)
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
I know this makes me sound like a coaches, but I actually think that special teams really does account for a third of a team's success. And I think that solid play in all facets is especially critical in the Big 12 because of the small margin of error in most games.
Here's a look at how I rank the special teams in the conference, giving each team a master rating including all facets of the kicking game.
1. Texas: The best combination kicking game in the league with two-deep talent at both kicker and punter and Jordan Shipley to take care of the returns. The Longhorns always have fast, talented athletes covering kicks as well. And I'm curious to see if Justin Tucker really will be able to produce rugby-style punts with both feet.
2. Oklahoma State:The Cowboys have the best kickoff/punt returners in the conference in Dez Bryant and Perrish Cox. Special-teams coach Joe DeForest always does an outstanding job, although he’ll be in tough spot replacing Matt Fodge as his punter this season.
3. Nebraska: Alex Henery was the best kicker in the conference with a knack for making huge kicks. It's curious that Nebraska coaches would risk that success by having him double up as a punter this season. But he actually came to college as a walk-on punter. Niles Paul will get the start as both punt returner and kick returner. And Adi Kunalic led the nation in touchbacks as a kickoff specialist.
4. Kansas State:I’m basing this as much on past success as anything else -- Ron Prince’s team blocked four punts for touchdowns last season. Brandon Banks is a threat to break a big return on every play and he’ll be doubling as a kick and punt returner this season. Even with Bill Snyder taking over, I’m still thinking this will be a productive unit as they break in new kicker Josh Cherry and new punter Ryan Doerr.
5. Baylor: The Bears have the most consistent punter in the conference with Derek Epperson. Look for improvement from kicker Ben Parks. One key will be boosting punt returns with new returner Krys Buerck after ranking only 118th nationally as a team last season.
6. Iowa State: I think that Jack Trice Stadium might be the toughest facility in the conference because of its swirling winds. Paul Rhoads has some confidence with Grant Mahoney back at kicker and Mike Brandtner at punter. Leonard Johnson is one of the most effective kickoff returners in the conference. But the Cyclones need a boost on punt returns and in covering kicks.
7. Oklahoma: For a team with as many athletes as the Sooners, I was surprised with their difficulties in covering kicks last season. That’s the immediate concern for them. DeMarco Murray was a threat on every return, but I doubt he plays there much because of his recent injury problems. Dominique Franks, Ryan Broyles and Cameron Kenney are expected to contribute in the return game. And Kenney might even push Tress Way for punting duties. Coaches have also been impressed with the improved range of kicker Jimmy Stevens. We’ll see if that holds up when the season starts.
8. Texas Tech: The story about Matt “Lynwood” Williams was one of the best in college football last year as he emerged from an in-game kicking contest to win most of the kicking honors for the Red Raiders. Donnie Carona was a disappointment as a kicker, but may emerge as a punter along with Ryan Erxleben (yeah, he’s the son of former Texas punter Russell Erxleben) as the Red Raiders wait for Jonathan LaCour to come off a Big 12-mandated suspension. Edward Britton and Jamar Wall will be involved in returning kicks, along with many others.
9. Texas A&M: Here’s a stat that shows how far Texas A&M’s once vaunting kicking game has fallen in recent years. The Aggies haven’t converted a field goal of 50 yards or more since 2000. Randy Bullock is back as the kicker and freshman Ryan Epperson and Ken Wood are still battling for the punting job. Christine Michael inherits the kickoff return duties, but look for heralded junior-college cornerback Coryell Judie to be involved some way.
10. Missouri: No Jeremy Maclin and Jeff Wolfert means that the Tigers will rebuild one of their strongest units last season. Their net punting figures to improve after Jake Harry’s strong start. Grant Ressel won the kicking job in a tight battle, but might be pushed this season. Gary Pinkel is sorting through his options in the return game but won’t have anybody nearly as gifted as Maclin. And they need to do a better job covering kicks after allowing a kickoff return for a touchdown for the first time last season.
11. Kansas: The Jayhawks desperately need some improvement in this category. Jacob Branstetter converted 75 percent of his kicks, but his longest was only 34 yards. Punter Alonso Rojas’ net average was only 33.9 yards. And the Jayhawks ranked 118th nationally in kickoff returns as Marcus Herford accounted for most of the returns. They showed some strong improvement late in the season when Dezmon Briscoe took over.
12. Colorado: The Buffaloes had the worst field-goal percentage in the country as they converted only 29 percent last season. They also lose Josh Smith, who set a school record for total kick return yards. Coaches think that Andre Simmons will be able to help here, but I’ll take a wait-and-see attitude before I get too excited.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Anybody who follows college football knows that no one covers the sport in terms of length and breath as well as Phil Steele, whose preseason magazines have been a must-have item for any serious college football fan.
Steele has just released something new: his Freshman All-American team.
Here's a look at the Big 12 players who were selected to his top three teams.
Missouri T Elvis Fisher, Iowa State KR Leonard Johnson, Kansas State DL Brandon Harold, Oklahoma LB Travis Lewis, Texas DB Earl Thomas
The only question I have is, which quarterback could be better than Griffin? I'll examine that in a future post.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Gene Chizik's departure for Auburn is a big surprise after Iowa State's struggles in 2008. The Cyclones won their first two games and then lost 10 games in a row, becoming the first team since Iowa State in 2003 to go winless in Big 12 Conference play.
Chizik was committed to building for the future, utilizing 11 freshmen this season. By the end of the year, the Cyclones were starting four freshmen along with kicker Grant Mahoney.
Running back Alexander Robinson also developed into a consistent ball carrier, producing a team-best 703 rushing yards and six touchdowns.
Chizik's forte before coming to Iowa State was working with defenses. But his young unit regressed in every major statistical category from his first season, ranking 95th nationally in rushing defense, tied for 110th in scoring defense, 111th in total defense, 115th in pass defense and 117th in pass efficiency defense.
Whoever takes over will have to build some continuity for a program which will be working with its third coach in the last four seasons.
Offensive player of the year: QB Austen Arnaud. After struggles typical of first-year starter, Arnaud showed some flashes late in the season. He passed for 2,792 yards and 15 touchdowns, finishing with a school-record 440 passing yards against Kansas State in his final game. That outing should provide promise for the Cyclones' new coach.
Defensive player of the year: LB Jesse Smith. The junior linebacker was a consistent producer on a unit that often struggled. Smith finished second on the team with 84 tackles, led the team in passes broken up, tied for the team lead in forced fumbles and ranked second in quarterback hurries and fumble recoveries.
Turning point: The Cyclones likely weren't going to challenge for the North Division title, but their confidence took a big shot in a 34-31 overtime loss at UNLV. Iowa State rebounded from a 21-0 halftime deficit, tying the game with three seconds in regulation. But the defense couldn't hold up in overtime -- a foreshadowing of its struggles in conference play.
What's next: Obviously the hiring of Chizik's replacement will determine in which direction the program will move forward. It's an attractive job in a power conference with 16 starters and two specialists returning. The Cyclones have a productive quarterback coming back in Arnaud. Those factors will prove enticing to somebody.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Colt McCoy has thrown three touchdown passes to boost Texas to a 28-14 halftime advantage over Baylor.
After enabling Baylor to battle back to a 14-14 tie, the Longhorns charged back with two second-quarter touchdowns on Ryan Palmer's 22-yard interception return and McCoy's 26-yard strike to Quan Cosby.
The first half was marred by several injuries for Texas, including Coach Mack Brown. After he was nicked by a player along the sidelines, Brown suffered a nasty looking gash on his left ear.
The cut was not bandaged and was even exhibited when Brown was interviewed after the first half. He should return -- hopefully with a band-aid -- when play resumes after the half.
The Longhorns already are playing without starting defensive end Brian Orakpo and starting cornerback Chykie Brown. And they lost starting defensive tackle Lamarr Houston for the game with a foot injury early in the first quarter.
McGee was struggling with heavy Baylor pressure from a variety of blitzes. He has been intercepted twice in the first half.
And in the other early game today, Iowa State has jumped ahead of Colorado, 3-0, late in the first quarter. Grant Mahoney drilled a 24-yard field goal for the Cyclones to give them the lead after their first possession.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Iowa State has jumped to a quick 20-0 lead over South Dakota State midway through the second quarter.
An opportunistic Iowa State defense has already accounted for three interceptions.
The Cyclones are playing as well on opening night as Baylor is struggling.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
The season begins a week from tonight for Iowa State, which will open against South Dakota State to open Coach Gene Chizik's second season.
The Cyclones return seven offensive and seven defensive starters from last season's 3-9 team as they attempt to qualify for their first bowl since the 2005 Houston Bowl under former coach Dan McCarney.
Heading into the final week of practice, here's five major questions that Chizik needs to settle to get his team for the upcoming season.
1. Settle on a quarterback. Austen Arnaud and Phillip Bates are hooked up in a tight battle. Chizik has said he expects both quarterbacks will play early in the season. The sooner he can settle on a starter, the better.
2. Find a featured running back. The Cyclones have a deep collection of similarly skilled players with J.J. Bass, Alexander Robinson and Jason Scales all back from last season. Look for all of them to play.
3. Develop playmakers at linebacker. Losing Alvin "Ace" Bowen and Jon Banks robbed the Cyclones of two of their primary defenders from last season. Michael Bibbs, Fred Garrin and Jesse Smith appeared poised to claim the starting positions.
4. Get some run-stuffers in the trenches. Not having Ahtyba Rubin and Bryce Braaksma will be huge losses. But former Arkansas transfer Michael Tate and 308-pound junior NG Nate Frere have emerged as the likely starters.
5. Who will replaces Bret Culbertson at kicker? Freshman Grant Mahoney was slated to be the kicker and 6-foot-4, 169-pound freshman Zach Guyer is set for kickoffs in the opener. But Chizik still could switch them around over the next few days.