Often labeled as the giant slayers, the roles reversed themselves last season as the Iowa St. Cyclones fell to FCS Northern Iowa in the early going. A single loss set the tone for the rest of the season as hopes of a bowl appearance came crashing down.
#8 Iowa St. Cyclones
2013 Finish | 3-9 (2-7)
After losing the first seven games of conference play, the Cyclones finally picked up two wins. Although those wins came against West Virginia and Kansas, there's a glimmer of hope on the horizon. Can the late wins carry momentum into 2014 giving this Iowa St. team a bit of confidence?
On offense, ISU returns 10 starters including the leading rusher, Aaron Wimberly along with starting quarterback Sam Richardson. Fortunately for the two aforementioned players, the starting offensive line remains intact. Moving into the upcoming season, the Cyclones landed a big time reciever to help Richardson's numbers in Allen Lazard. But, the biggest news may rest upon the new hire, Mark Mangino, who steps onto campus as the offensive coordinator.
On defense, Iowa St. returns a mere six starters from the 106th ranked defense last season. One of those happens to be Luke Knott, yes the younger brother of former Cyclone All-American linebacker Jake Knott. High expectations have been placed on this kid who returns after suffering a season ending injury a year ago. If Luke progresses as anticipated, he will undoubtedly be a force to reckon with come fall.
The weak point of the defense falls upon a secondary losing three players to graduation. With potential there on offense, one has to wonder how the defense will keep these Big 12 offenses from scoring.
Whereas WVU fell to #9 in my power rankings due to inconsistencies, Iowa St. gets the bump due to momentum from the previous season combined with the new hire and talent coming in.