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.
MLB: Furcal mounting comeback with Miami Marlins
Coming off surgery to his throwing elbow, Rafael Furcal showed the Miami Marlins he can still deliver a sales pitch.
After sitting out the 2013 season, the 36-year-old infielder met last fall with Marlins executives Mike Hill and Dan Jennings and convinced them he could be their second baseman this year.
NFL: Redskins, Cowboys released from salary cap jail
When the Washington Redskins were placed in salary cap jail by the NFL, Kedric Golston had to say goodbye to his best friend on the team.
For the past two years, the Redskins and Dallas Cowboys - otherwise rivals to the bitter end in the NFC East - have been constrained by a much-disputed ruling limiting how much money they could spend on players.
NFL: Jets release WR Santonio Holmes after 4 seasons
Tone Time is over for the New York Jets.
The Jets parted ways with wide receiver Santonio Holmes on Monday, cutting the talented but injury-plagued playmaker after four seasons.
The move, which had been expected, saves the Jets $8.25 million, which Holmes was due to make as his base salary this season. He was also scheduled to have a $10.75 million cap number, a lofty total for a one-time Super Bowl MVP who has struggled with injuries and inconsistency the last two seasons.
NFL: Seattle re-signs DE Michael Bennett
Free agent defensive end Michael Bennett is returning to Seattle after agreeing to a multi-year deal with the Super Bowl champion Seahawks.
Terms of the contract were not immediately available on Monday. Bennett was considered one of the top free agents in the NFL after a breakout season with the Seahawks where he led the team in sacks and proved a versatile option as a defensive end and defensive tackle.
High School Basketball State Tournament Brackets
The Oklahoma High School Basketball State Tournaments will get under way this week in Oklahoma City and the Tulsa-Metro Area.
Below is a listing of the Class 3A-6A State Tournament Pairings.
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