I was explaining my opinion of Iowa State fans to one of my customers this past week. As part of the explanation I concluded the Iowa State has better fans than Nebraska. Why? Because they're still there, even though the Cyclones have sucked for years, Iowa State fans by and large still go to the games. Do they sell out Jack Trice all the time for the past 40 years? No, but they still support futility. I find that kind of amazing. Seems to me their Alumni Association is better supported than ours to, with regards to the percentage of alums that belong to the Association.
Having been there on a few occasions over the years, I wonder if the support at Ames is at it's current level because football is a helluva lot of fun there. Remember the t-shirts from a few years ago, and the band getting into trouble for "Iowa State - a drinking school with a football problem". Those shirts are everywhere now, but I'm pretty sure they started in Ames.
The tailgating is so good and the football so mediocre that they installed sirens last season to let fans know that it's time to come into the stadium before the game. I wonder if those are still around this season?
Oh well, this year it's in Lincoln. Getting set, I asked a few questions of Alex over at the Iowa State blog Clone Chronicles.
1. What's your opinion of what Bill Callahan has accomplished so far as Nebraska's coach?
I've been a little disappointed. The North should really be Nebraska's, year-in, year-out. The fact that they are in competition with a team coached by Gary freakin' Pinkel, I think, shows that they're behind where they need to be. Nebraska is no longer a team that I fear losing by 60 to, and the bigger thing is, neither do our players. They honestly think they can walk out of Memorial Stadium with a win on Saturday.
I don't know how much of it is switching Nebraska into a west-coast offense, and all that jazz, but he's got his recruits into the system, and I think if Nebraska doesn't start winning ten games a year fairly soon, Callahan's job will be in jeopardy.
2. If you had to pick a victory over Nebraska or Iowa, which would it be?
Personally, Nebraska, since we have fewer than twenty wins against the Huskers in approximately 342 games, but I think that some ISU fans might disagree with me. However, if we're in a position to beat Nebraska, we're likely good enough to be in contention for the North, and a win over Nebraska would be all the sweeter. One of the biggest wins I've ever seen was the 2002 triumph in Ames, and I tend to think that a win against the Huskers, in Memorial Stadium, would do wonders for our team.
3. What's been the bane of the Cyclones this season? They haven't played very well, but what's the problem? New offense? Lack of defense?
Turnovers. We've had a negative turnover ratio in every single game. It's a minor miracle we beat Iowa. The offense has been warming up as the year has went on, but they've had a real problem stalling out in the red zone, just having to settle for field goal attempts. Bret Meyer still doesn't play like a four year starter and is still frustrating as hell. The defense has improved from last year, but the defensive line has been disappointing as well. Special teams breakdowns were the sole reason we lost to Toledo.
4. Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard has quite a job in front of him. Raising money to build better facilities and bringing back baseball are just two of the items on his agenda. Name some more, and give an appraisal on how he's doing.
The plan starts with redoing to concourse at Jack Trice and redoing some luxury suites. Next, the plan is to build a new practice facility next to Hilton, and, finally, to horseshoe the south end of Jack Trice. Iowa State fans have embraced Pollard and his ambitious attitude. He gets two thumbs up from me, as well as most Cyclone fans. He gets it. He realizes our financial situation is tight, and he is taking steps to do the best he can with the what he's getting. I'm not sure if baseball will ever come back, but most of the stuff he's tried has worked. We don't want him to leave anytime soon.
5. How do you see the game this weekend playing out? Prediction, if you like, or an overview.
Nebraska should easily handle Iowa State with a good run game, but if Iowa State can create a positive turnover differential, the game could be close. ISU has improved every game (even including the loss at Toledo) and if the offense can get into a groove and actually get into the endzone, there's a chance. I'd say Nebraska has a 97.5% chance of winning. ISU RB JJ Bass is banged up as well. My official prediction? Nebraska 42-17. My optimistic prediction? Nebraska 28-24.