AMES, Iowa —
It was supposed to be the perfect setup for Iowa State.
The Cyclones would work out their kinks in the opener against FCS school Northern Iowa. Then, they'd use the ensuing bye week as added preparation for the rival Iowa Hawkeyes - who they'd likely be favored to beat for the first time in recent memory.
After losing to the Panthers 28-20 last weekend, nothing seems assured for Iowa State anymore.
Northern Iowa exposed issues on both sides of the ball for the inexperienced Cyclones, who showed that those who picked them to finish ninth in the Big 12 might end up being right.
At least Iowa State has an extra week to fix what went wrong before hosting Iowa on Sept. 14.
"I think it's a great thing this time. You know, when the schedule came out you wondered if that would be good,'' Iowa State defensive coordinator Wally Burnham said about having such an early bye week. "But sometimes the good Lord blesses you in unknown ways.''
The Cyclones' defense certainly needs more practice time after a lackluster showing against Northern Iowa. Iowa State had trouble tackling and stopping the Panthers on third downs, and they never had an answer for running back David Johnson.
Northern Iowa's first three drives went for 69, 78 and 82 yards - and each finished in the end zone. As a result, Iowa State was behind by 14 points midway through the second quarter.
Johnson finished with a staggering 199 yards rushing and four TDs, including a pair of scoring catches.
Quarterback Sawyer Kollmorgen completed 75 percent of his passes without a turnover, and the Panthers converted five of their 10 chances on third down.
"Missed alignments. Missed tackles. Basically, that's it,'' Burnham said. "We didn't play with a lot of enthusiasm, like we should have for an opening game. But technically, we didn't get lined up a few times and it really hurt us. Then we had a chance to make some stops on third down, and we had missed tackles.''
And when the Cyclones finally strung together a number of stops, their offense couldn't convert.
Quarterback Sam Richardson started the year off strong, with 242 yards passing and two TDs along with a team-high 74 yards rushing. But although Richardson was by far the most productive player for the Cyclones in the opener, they'll likely need even more out of him in the weeks ahead.
Iowa State was forced to settle for a pair of field goals from inside Northern Iowa's 20-yard line in the third quarter - when a touchdown on either drive likely would have turned the game around for the Cyclones.
"I thought Sam played well. But I didn't see Sam go win the football game for us,'' Cyclones offensive coordinator Courtney Messingham said. "For us to reach the goals that we have, he's got to be able to carry us through some of those low points in a drive.''
Iowa State's offensive line didn't help, though.
Richardson was sacked six times, and he sprained his right ankle late in the game - though Messingham said Wednesday that he'll be back for Iowa.
The line didn't do much for the running backs, either, as four of them combined to gain just 94 yards on 31 tries.
"It's a little two-fold. One, we didn't obviously block as well up front as we need to. Two, from a coaching standpoint, getting us in the best runs that we could be in (was an issue),'' Messingham said.
Granted, Northern Iowa is traditionally a strong FCS program that beat Iowa State in 2007 and nearly did it again in 2011. As one of eight FBS teams to lose to an FCS opponent, the Cyclones also aren't the only program smarting after an upset.
But Iowa State has put itself in a really tough spot after just one week.
To even qualify for a bowl game, the Cyclones would theoretically need to sweep the Hawkeyes and Tulsa in non-conference plays and then win four Big 12 games - after winning just three in each of the past four seasons.
AMES, Iowa —
It was supposed to be the perfect setup for Iowa State.
'Twice as Nice'
When it comes to the 3A State Tournament and Oklahoma City, the Verdigris High School basketball teams are a household name.
Head coaches Randy Upshaw and Mike Buntin lead their programs back to the 'Capitol City' this week for a chance to hoist the coveted 3A state championship on Saturday night at the Big House.
Cards fly into 3A State Tournament
Verdigris junior guard Cade Upshaw lives for March Madness.
The 5-foot-10 sharp-shooter overcame a sluggish performance in a loss to Tahlequah Sequoyah to bounce back for a 20-point outing in the Cardinals’ 72-42 win over Antlers Saturday evening in the Class 3A Area Tournament at Checotah Event Center.
CLASS 4A AREA TOURNEY: Vinita eliminates Inola
Vinita used an 18-point third quarter — highlighted by the sophomore leadership of Carsyn Spurgeon — and converted 21-of-34 free throws to notch a 61-55 win over the Inola Lady Longhorns Saturday night in the Class 4A Area Tournament.
‘Soaring to State’
In the hometown of Carrie Underwood, Verdigris senior point guard Baileigh O’Dell proved to be Oklahoma’s ‘Basketball Idol’ in Class 3A Girls Basketball.
The 5-foot-8 floor general put the No. 4-ranked Lady Cardinals on her shoulders and carried Verdigris back to the the state tournament with the 53-40 win over No. 5 Tahlequah Sequoyah Friday night in the Area Championship at the Checotah Event Center.
CLASS 4A AREA TOURNEY: Stilwell advances to State
A jam-packed, vocal crowd — aided by the control of several Claremore Police officers — witnessed Stilwell’s come-from-behind 57-51 win over Harrah Saturday night in the must-win game of the Class 4A Area Tournament at the Claremore High School Gymnasium.
SOFTBALL: Arkansas cruises past Miss. Valley State
The University of Arkansas softball team completed an undefeated run through the Razorback Invitational Sunday afternoon win with a 13-5 victory over Mississippi Valley State at Bogle Park.
AAC WOMEN'S BB TOURNEY: No. 1 UConn routs No. 3 Louisville for title
New league, same result. It's another championship for UConn.
Breanna Stewart scored 20 points and top-ranked Connecticut beat No. 3 Louisville 72-52 on Monday night to win the inaugural American Athletic Conference tournament.
BIG 12 WOMEN'S BB TOURNEY: Sims leads Baylor to championship
Nothing was going to stop Odyssey Sims.
Not her early foul trouble, West Virginia's suffocating defense or the left ankle injury she suffered less than t wo minutes into the Big 12 championship game.
Sims, the Big 12 player of the year, bounced back and scored 15 of her 19 points in the second half to help No. 9 Baylor defeat No. 7 West Virginia 74-71 Monday night and earn an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament. It was Sims' fourth championship in four years.
BIG 12 WOMEN'S BB: Kansas State fires coach Deb Patterson
Kansas State has fired women's basketball coach Deb Patterson, announcing the move two days after an opening-round loss in the Big 12 tournament.
NCAA MEN'S BB: Florida, Wichita State stay 1-2 in AP poll
Florida, which finished an unbeaten season in the Southeastern Conference, and Wichita State, which completed an undefeated regular season, are the top two teams in the AP college basketball poll for the third straight week.
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