Cyclones, Red Raiders earn Big 12 victories

Tuesday, October 20, 2009 | 12:00 a.m. CDT
Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads, foreground, looks on during the second half of Saturday's win against Baylor in Ames, Iowa.

COLUMBIA – Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads has had plenty of changes to make since arriving last year.

For the three years before he joined the Cyclones, the program found itself at the bottom of the Big 12 North standings.

The Cyclones took a big step forward toward avoiding that fate Saturday with a 24-10 home win against Baylor.

"We believe that we are becoming a physical football team, and that's been a cry of ours since we took over," Rhoads said.

The win was Iowa State's first conference win since 2007.

"We were so very pleased with how our defense played," Rhoads said. "The weak link of our team, if there is such a thing, is identifiable by many and recognizable by our kids. The ten points is the fewest points, I think, in a Big 12 game allowed by Iowa State since going back to 2005. We had the number at three until the final seconds of the game.

"Our kids came out and played with not only great responsibility but great execution."

Nebraska, the Cyclones' next opponent, pulled quarterback Zac Lee in the fourth quarter of the Huskers' game Saturday in favor of backup Cody Green. Rhoads said one challenge this week will be preparing for both players.

"To prepare for a quarterback, with all the reports (of a possible change) right now, you're not sure," he said. "The game plan might be different depending on who's under center. We have plenty of things to cause us worry as we go into this week's preparation."

Rhoads said Nebraska still maintains stronger offensive and defensive lines than Iowa State does, a problem the Cyclones must address. Although the Huskers gave up 31 points last week, they allowed only 25 yards rushing.

"Their defensive front seven might be as good as there is in college football. And we know about (Ndamukong) Suh at tackle, but the guys lined up right next to him as well as behind him are great football players, too. You struggle to have any kind of success running the ball against them and scoring points are not easy to come by."

Texas Tech scores blowout of Nebraska

Following Nebraska's 27-12 win against Missouri in the team's Big 12 opener, the Huskers ascended to the top of the Big 12 North division. There was talk that Nebraska was on its way back to being a division leader and a Big 12 powerhouse.

Texas Tech made that sound premature. The Red Raiders scored twice in the first ten minutes of the game on their way to dismantling Nebraska, 31-10.

Defensively, Texas Tech also looked strong. Defensive lineman Brandon Sharpe had four sacks.

"Somebody asked about a light going on," coach Mike Leach said. "I think that's what went off. I think he's always had that talent and had that ability. He just kind of put it together."

It was the first road start for quarterback Steven Sheffield, who is filling in for injured starter Taylor Potts. Sheffield was 23-for-32.

Leach said the preseason competition between Potts and Sheffield was closer than many people realize.

"He (Sheffield) got a lot of reps. He was in quite a bit," Leach said. "We went longer without dividing the reps up just because he was performing at a really high level. It's not surprising to anyone that he's played well."

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