The Iowa State Cyclones are hoping someone will look past them.
When Iowa State (2-9, 0-7 Big 12 Conference) plays Missouri at noon Saturday at Memorial Stadium, it will try to snap a nine-game losing streak. The Cyclones won their first two games against Northern Iowa and Ohio, and it is an understatement to say they have struggled since.
The Cyclones have scored 166 points this season for last in the Big 12 and No. 114 in the nation. They rank No. 100 in total defense.
The Cyclones’ strength of schedule hasn’t made things easy for the team. The Tigers will be the 10th-straight bowl-eligible team the Cyclones have faced.
Missouri (7-4, 3-4) has lost to Iowa State the past four years, but the programs are in different situations this season.
“The rewards and incentives aren’t like they’ve been going into the last game of the regular season for us this year like they’ve been in recent years,” Iowa State coach Dan McCarney said.
Problems have mounted for Iowa State at a key position. Against Kansas a week ago, the Cyclones rotated three quarterbacks, redshirt freshman Austin Flynn, junior Waye Terry and junior Cris Love.
McCarney said he planned to narrow his choices in practices this week and select two who would alternate.
“We’re not into three-quarterback rotations,” McCarney said. “Don’t like two-quarterback rotations, to be honest with you, but that’s the hand we’ve been dealt this year. Hopefully one of the guys will be consistent and come through for us this week.”
MU players said they are aware the Cyclones will try to gain season-ending momentum by upsetting the Tigers.
“Any time you play a team that’s playing strictly for pride, it’s dangerous,” offensive tackle Rob Droege said. “You never know what to expect, they could do anything.”
Said sophomore cornerback Calvin Washington: “It would really make their day to knock us off. That would be a nice end to their season.”
The Tigers’ postseason fate might be determined before it plays its final regular-season contest.
The Independence Bowl has been seriously considering the Tigers, but Nebraska’s game at Colorado could shake things up.
If the 8-3 Huskers lose, there is a possibility that Holiday Bowl representatives would ask the Tigers to travel to San Diego for the Dec. 30 bowl.
A member of the Holiday Bowl committee attended Missouri’s game against Kansas State last week. Kansas State played in the Holiday Bowl last year and so the bowl would be unlikely to choose the Wildcats for a second straight year.
MU coach Gary Pinkel will not mute that talk until Sunday, though, when his team’s regular season is over.
“Honestly, I have not looked at a bowl list other than those list of bowls we have on the wall outside our dining area, I walk by them every day,” Pinkel said. “I have not thought about one bowl game.”
If the Tigers win Saturday, they will go 6-0 at home for the first time and finish undefeated at home for the first time since 1974.
“That’s a statement,” Pinkel said. “It just sets the bar and the standard for players, after these seniors leave.”