Thursday, August 31, 2006

The landmine named Toledo

I am firmly in the camp of Cyclone fans who view every upcoming game as a glass half full- of poison.

Toledo is a nightmare.

Good enough to win- heck, good enough to embarrass- and throw the season into the emotionial dumpster before September even arrives. ISU might be good enough to do the blowing out. ISU could also serve up a Baylor-esqe loss.

Some tidbits:

-Toledo began playing DI football in 1962.

-Folks bring up their wins against Penn State and Minnesota to prove they are giant killers, for good reason. But realize, the PSU win was in 2000 when Toledo went 10-1 (and didn't go to a bowl), and outscored their opponents 400-125. PSU was 5-7, and lost to a 4-7 Iowa team.

-The 2001 Minnesota win was at Toledo, the Rockets were 10-2 with a bowl win, and again scored 400+ points. The Gophers went 4-7.

-In 2004 UT lost to 7-5 at Minnesota and at 4-7 Kansas by 40. Each.

-The 2005 bowl blowout of UTEP was contrasted with a 30 point loss at Fresno State.

I give Toledo a 30% shot at winning. Cyclones by 10 in a very workmanlike effort.


Sunday, August 27, 2006

A nice first step to a repeat

The ISU volleyball team's come-from-way-behind win over SUI in Iowa City gives ISU and early 2-0 lead in the Hy-Vee Series.

By my math, there are 23 points up for grabs: 3 for football, 2 points in 9 other matchups, and 2 points for some kind of "academic" score. ISU needs 10 more points to clinch another title. Let's handicap:

Sept. 12 - Soccer at Ames: edge to ISU
Sept. 16 - Football at Iowa City: lock for SUI (they're going undefeated, right? right?)
TBA - Wrestling at Iowa City: edge to SUI
TBA - Women’s Basketball at Iowa City: edge to ISU
TBA - Men’s Basketball at Iowa City: edge to SUI
TBA - Women’s Swimming at Iowa City: edge to SUI
TBA - Women’s Gymnastics at Ames: lock for ISU
TBA - Women’s Gymnastics at Iowa City: lock for ISU
TBA - Softball at Ames: lock for SUI
Academic: edge to SUI since they won it last year.

If chalk is correct (and I doubt it will be) SUI wins 13-10. An upset in any of the above- MBB? WR? WS? and ISU repeats. The 3 points that goes to the football winner is a nice advantage for SUI right now.

I'm sure that SUI is downplaying the importance of the trophy, since they should always win it, but will have it in their Fair booth when they win it back.

Hopefully they don't have to contemplate what to do with the trophy for a few years.


Thursday, August 24, 2006

Notes from the Fair

A few observations from the Iowa State Fair:

- Ten years ago, the thought of Iowa fans wearing "Beat State" T-shirts in public without intending irony was laughable. "We mean Ohio State" would have been printed on the back- and too clever for that crowd, anyway. Five years ago, the wearer of that shirt would have been scoffed at as a fan without out-of-line priorities. About five "fluke" wins later, I saw at least two "Beat State" shirts a day at the Fair. Its nice to know they care.

- The SUI booth in the Varied Industry Building again has a large "Best and Brightest" display of Valedictorians who have chosen to go to Iowa City for school. Just as ISU feels the need to promote any football trophies the stumble across, SUI is compelled to say "Smart kids come here, too! Look! See- we have their photos and everything! We aren't making this up!" Way to try to shore up the negatives, guys.

- Not surprisingly, many of the FFA and 4-H scholarship winners are going to Ames, and few if any to IC. I hope their self-esteem wasn't hurt because the didn't get their picture posted.


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Nancy states the obvious, again

Nancy Clark's piece on Tuesday revealed a real earth-shaking development: ISU needs to win all of its home games to be successful in '06.

Wow, that's brilliant.

The headline makes it even worse: "To save season, ISU will need 7 Ames wins". To save season? I guess the thing is already lost, then, and must be rescued.

Clark does raise one good point, and it is the one side of the McCarney tenure that has bothered me: the inability of Dan's teams to consistently beat the bad teams on its schedule. Baylor in '05 is Exhibit A.

Jump in the wayback machine:

In '05, ISU went 4-1 against teams that ended the season below .500- and sealed KSU and a$m's fate at 5-6
'04- again, 4-1, but that crushing loss to Mizzou will haunt us for years
'03- 1-2, but that team had issues outside of a tough schedule
'02- 4-1 counting 7-7 NU (win) and 6-6 UConn (loss)
'01- 5-1, but got hammered by 6-6 KSU 42-3
'00- 6-0, and the three losses in that 9-3 season were blowouts
'99- 3-1, ended the season in a loss to KU, foreshadowing season ending losses in the future
'98- 3-1, gave away a win to a bad OU team in Norman
'97- 1-3 rock bottom of the DM tenure
'96- 1-4, just couldn't stop anybody in a 2-9 year
'95- 3-2, the first season ending loss to a bad team

Looking back, ISU doesn't play enough bad teams to automatically vault them into a bowl game each year, so downing all of the bad teams should be job #1 each year. Who should be bad this year?

Going in, only UNLV and KSU are expected to struggle. ISU could certainly push CU, KU and Mizzou out of bowl eligibility come November, but we won't really be able to forecast those games until everyone gets a few games under their belt.

All I ask for is no Baylor-like losses this year. That would be something to build on, since it is hard to credibly call yourself a Championship Caliber Program with regular gaffes to losing teams.


Friday, August 04, 2006

The only fair ticket policy

ISU will auction off a few pairs of courtside season tickets for men's and women's basketball via eBay. The only catch is that bidders must be $5K donors to the NCC.


We all know a high roller who bitches about the location of his seats, whether football or basketball. Here is a chance for that complainer to really show how much he values a prime seat. Honestly, I have no problem selling most of the best seats this way- but I will be the first to call out the ticketholder who only shows for the best games. Then again, knowing that every game is costing you $100? $300? $500? per seat is powerful motivation to get yourself to Hilton.

Bravo, AD staff. Can we do the same auction with the yet-to-be-built skyboxes?


Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Nuggets from media day

There are some interesting tidbits in this wire service story about B12 football: this wire service story about B12 football:

-Nebraska and Oklahoma are both replacing four starters in the OL. NU had better get things shored up before they go to LA to meet USC, and OU has two games to set the offense up before a roadie to Oregon. Oh, and OU just kicked off their starting QB, with no backup in sight. Ouch.

-Baylor thinks it can win the South. I'll have what they're having if it carries over to ISU, but I suspect it will be nothing stronger than Diet Coke.

-ISU kicking game, while good percentage wise, misses the ones that matter. No kidding. The whole team and coaching staff seems to get tight helmet in the close ones.