Game week is long and hard, tense with anticipation of the weekend's sweet release, and never more so than during conference play. That's why we're here, scraping and clawing our way over that midweek ridge so you can start the smooth coast toward kickoff with a better understanding of what awaits you at the bottom. This week's guest is CanAzn, distinguished fellow at Iowa State internet touchstone Wide Right & Natty Lite.
Ulysses S. Cocksman: Hey, Can. Let me open by saying that Iowa State got jobbed BADLY in 2013. I wish I could make amends for this directly, but I'm in HR and you'd need to see someone in customer service about that. Are we cool?
CanAzn: Oh, what happened in 2013? I think the repressed memory might be coming back. If it does, I'm billing my therapy directly to the Longhorn Network. I assume you work in HR at the LHN and your entire job is to prevent this asshole from sexually harassing Kayleigh Hartung or whoever replaced her.
You're at least in the neighborhood. So. Interesting week in Ames. Let's address the elephant no longer in the room – what lead to Mangino's firing, and how did Paul Rhoads solve the logistical challenges of having him removed from the athletic department, physically?
It's not every Monday that you find out your Big 12 defensive freshman of the year is out for the season, a valuable CB is suspended for the rest of the season, and that's not even the big news. Mangino was fired because he didn't see eye-to-eye with Rhoads... on fast food choices (Mangino is still pissed that part of the Big 12's new deal didn't include a mandated What-A-Burger in every Big 12 city) or the offense.
Rhoads is notoriously hands off with the offense, even letting mustachioed weirdo Courtney Messingham run an awful offense for two years after Tom Herman's departure, but I guess Mangino's pass happy, "let's throw incompletions and shitty bubble screens to go 3 and out as soon as possible so our tired, not exactly deep defense can get back out on the field even faster" philosophy wasn't exactly making Rhoads SO PROUD. Apparently Mangino was also blindly loyal to Sam Richardson, so when Rhoads made him present backup QB Joel Lanning with a rose during the midseason finale of Iowa State QB Bachelorette, it was the final straw.
See, the thing is, we were all told that Iowa State was spending all this money on bowling in the south endzone in the offseason, but I'm guessing at least half that money was used to enlarge the trap door in Paul Rhoads' office to prepare for this firing.
Bowling lanes in the end zone would've been ridiculous anyway, it's for the best. I can only imagine how big the lever on that trap door must've been…
You mention new starting quarterback Joel Lanning – what does he bring to the offense that Richardson doesn't, besides completions longer than five yards?
A QBR higher than 0.9? That was seriously Sam Richardson's rating against Baylor, so I guess it's hard to do worse. It's hard to pin everything on Sam though. He was the second coming at one point and will leave Iowa State as one of its best ever QBs, statistically speaking. Lanning was already instituted as the Wildcat/running QB option, as he's a bit bigger than Richardson, leading many many to dub him the LanRover or LanRam before the season started. I'm going to tell you Lanning is basically Collin Klein 2.0 not neccessarily because I believe it in any way, but that's probably a name that scares the shit out of Longhorn fans. He also has a big arm, which he'll probably use to unnecessarily bullet passes into the receivers, Rex Grossman style.
Objectively, LanRam is an absolutely terrible name, but we're still struggling mightily with what to call Tyrone Swoopes, so I'm not going to cast stones. What do you expect of the offense now with Todd Sturdy in charge? To the best of my knowledge, no team in recent memory has switched to a younger quarterback and replaced the OC with a passing-focused assistant coach, so this is pretty uncharted territory.
It's certainly not good. Let's put it up against Swoopes' 18 Wheeler for terrible and decide that nobody wins. What's up with Swoopes anyway? Did you all decide he was basically Vince Young without the oddly effective poo-flinging throwing accuracy and turned him into a fullback?
We put out an article about Todd Sturdy on Monday, but the Cliff's Notes on that is basically that Sturdy's offense is surprisingly well balanced for being a "passing game coordinator". As far as entrusting the offense to a very young QB... I guess the thought is that we're playing with house money at this point because we've already reached last season's win total? I don't know if you guys ever visit WRNL, but the term "tire fire" is thrown around as often as Louisville throws hookers at their recruits, so we've definitely reached a very high level of "fuck it, why not".
Meanwhile in Texas, Are your defensive linemen confused as to how a mirror works?
Texas DT Paul Boyette: "Iowa State's not a very good team. One week can play well, and the next week they can be flat."— Kirk Bohls (@kbohls) October 26, 2015
Woof. I wanted so badly for this to be wrong – both because it's so monumentally stupid on the face of it, and because it would provide another opportunity to note that Kirk Bohls is awful at his job. But after sitting through ten excruciating minutes of interviews, I can confirm that some variation of those words did in fact spill out of Paul Boyette's talk hole. Damn it, Paul, you can think it if you want, but YOU CANNOT SAY IT INTO A RECORDING DEVICE. We are running a distant last in the conference this season in the critical "talking without making a complete fucking mess of it" metric.
What about Iowa State's defense? How do you see them holding up with the losses of Cotton-Moya, Lynn and some other dings and dents? Aside from scheduling Texas as the homecoming game, do you think they're doing enough trolling through various media channels, or is there room to do more?
Let's define "holding up". Do you mean... like actually doing passably well or "D coordinator isn't fired before the offensive coordinator" somehow? Either way, no. The major improvement this year with the defense is the emergence of Demond Tucker and Dale Pierson, who have given Iowa State some semblance of a pass rush. Of course, when you stubbornly rush 3 every play without mixing in some blitzes and give certain QBs from TumbleweedTown Texas 18 seconds to find a receiver, it doesn't work so well.
I think general apathy has set in and with Fred Hoiberg's Bulls debut last night, and Steve Prohm's Top 10 ranked team about to start play, people are generally content to wonder if Rhoads will be around next year rather than care about the games. Tailgating's still fun, though? Shit, it might get bad enough we'll have to come up with our own version of these.
Texas special teams are so ridiculous, the best play of the season BY FAR came off of a ball snapped completely over the punter’s head. Iowa State seems to not even know who the kicker is at this point. What’s the over-under for combined disastrous plays between these two units, and which team will win this matchup, to the extent that either can be considered a winner?
If it makes you feel any better, when Texas shanked the extra point against Cal, almost every Cyclone fan immediately thought: "way to go full Iowa State on that one, Bevo (RIP)." Thankfully, we've had Michigan against MSU and Florida State against Georgia Tech as even more "Cyclone-y" things to happen this year, so congrats on that? Uhhh... Cole Netten is now benched after being pretty damn good last season... by a freshman walkon. I imagine what this means is this Chris Francis character will hit 4 FGs and give us a glimmer of hope, then go WIDE WIDE WIDE WIDE WIDE right on a game winning kick. Maybe if we're lucky, Texas will have a returner back and somehow fumble it back onto the field of play for Iowa State to recover for a TD. It seems wise to have yakety sax playing for any special teams play during this game. I'll alert the Jack Trice crew.
Studies show that only one out of every four Texans can locate Iowa on a map, and of them, only zero are able to correctly identify Ames. Some see this as a failing of our state's primary education system, but I choose to embrace it as an opportunity. Tell our traveling readership a little about visiting Iowa State for a game. What's the town like? Where should they go get shitfaced before the game? How frequently do the Uber choppers depart from the hotel helipads?
Hey, Ames and Des Moines have Uber now, so feel free to ruin some Iowan's day by throwing up in their car! Since the game is at 6 on Saturday, I'd advise for staying in Des Moines on Friday night and going out downtown-ish. Couple of my favorite spots are Confluence Brewing (DSM's best brewery), High Life Lounge (Like drinking in grandma's basement), and El Bait Shop (180 beers on tap!)
I'm old now and never go out in Ames, so I'll refer you to the guide that Norman wrote back back about Ames. Up early, definitely go to Tip-Top. Otherwise, spend all day in the tailgate lots. The extra bonus is that since it's Halloween, you'll get to creep on college girls wearing far too little clothing for the weather. Hickory Park is the staple in Ames, but I'll be honest, if you've had actually good BBQ, as I'm sure many of you Texans have, there's no reason to go to this feedlot. Go to Great Plains Pizza for the thick crust with honey or Pizza Pit for the Inferno Wings instead.
Cyclones are inarguably badass, and a natural enemy to Oklahomans. Given what we know about enemies of enemies, will Iowa State [kicks dirt] … will y'all be our friends?
We tried bringing a literal Cyclone to Baylor, but that didn't pan out. At least it didn't go Texas vs TCU bad, right?
I don't know about the whole state of Oklahoma... this is where I admit we kinda like the Pokes... well, minus that whole screwing them out of a National Title in 2011 thing. But those Sooners? We're with you there for the hate, though we're pretty helpless. One of the scores Biff reads in Back To The Future was Oklahoma 52, Iowa State 0. That pretty much says it all.
But what are friends for other than to be drinking buddies? Years of horrible football has conditioned us to be the best drinking buddies you'll ever find. We accept your offer, but only after you partake in the traditional Iowa friendship ceremony with us: sharing a pile of bacon and corn on the cob.
Done and done. And yes, the Pokes are just fine – like a rebel enclave in enemy territory, but with meth. Got a prediction for the game, friend?
Uh… I guess I should have spoiler alerted it above. Let's go with Texas 27, Iowa State 25, with an Iowa State game winning field goal attempt sailing so off course that it lands outside of the stadium.
NICE. Free sno-cone for whoever gets that ball.