It is never too early to start looking at next year. This series aims to take an early look at the upcoming 2017 schedule of each Big 12 team.
We continue the series with Iowa State.
The Cyclones didn’t get the start to the season they were hoping for under first-year head coach Matt Campbell in 2016, but by the end of the season Iowa State showed flashes of what could be. After going 1-8 in the first 9 games, the Cyclones managed to knock off Kansas in Lawrence. Something clicked for Iowa State after the win, because the next time out they obliterated the Red Raiders 66-10, and it probably could have been worse than that had coach Campbell kept his foot on the gas. WVU proved to be too much to close out the season, but that didn’t matter, because fans have seen what is possible.
So, just what should expectations be for 2017? Let’s look.
IOWA STATE 2017 SCHEDULE
AUG 31 or SEP 2 – Northern Iowa
SEP 9 – Iowa
SEP 23 – at Akron
SEP 30 – Texas
OCT 7 – at Oklahoma
OCT 14 – Kansas
OCT 21 – at Texas Tech
OCT 28 – TCU
NOV 4 – at West Virginia
NOV 11 – Oklahoma State
NOV 18 – at Baylor
NOV 25 – at Kansas State
Hopefully, for the fans in Ames, year two for coach Campbell will translate into more wins. The offense and defense should fully know the playbook and what is expected of them. However, wins come from losses and the Big 12 is a brutal conference with not a lot of breathers. Especially as fellow basement-dweller Kansas also seems to be improving.
By dint of starting near the bottom of the Big 12, Iowa State has one of the more daunting schedules in the league. This year their schedule does not give a lot of breaks either; with road games against two of the projected top three teams (at Oklahoma, at Kansas State), and a road game against trendy dark horse Big 12 title candidate West Virginia.
To make matters worse, the non-conference schedule does not give any favors to the cardinal and gold. Northern Iowa has proven that Iowa State should not sleep on them. While Iowa lost some key pieces, the overall talent level the last few years has been more than the Cyclones could overcome. However, it is a rivalry game and those games are won by who wants it more just as much as who has the most talent. Finally, ISU travels to the state of Ohio to take on the Akron Zips.
If quarterbacks Jacob Park or Joel Lanning make some offseason improvement, and redshirt junior running back Mike Warren finds his 2015 form, this offense will be very dangerous with the emergence of senior receiver Allen Lazard and sophomore running back David Montgomery.
Looking at the schedule, who knows what this team can do? Two years ago, they shut-out Texas, and played Oklahoma State and Kansas State tough. Last year, after staggering out of the gates ISU seemed to round the corner and start to trust Campbell’s system. If the offense reaches even close to its full potential, then all the defense will need to do is be competent. If everything goes right, Iowa State could be bowling at the end of 2017.