The Colorado Buffaloes (3-6, 2-3) will be an underdog for the seventh straight week as they travel to Ames, Iowa to take on the Iowa St. Cyclones. Currently, Colorado is a 5.5 point underdog. The Buffs are fresh off a come from behind victory against the Texas A&M Aggies (5-4, 2-3), a team many thought was on the upswing in the Big 12 South. WR Markques Simas, QB Tyler Hansen and RB Rodney Stewart led a 35 point offensive output for Colorado, making plays down the stretch to send the Aggies home with a disheartening loss.
Iowa State (5-5, 2-4) will enter next Saturday's game on a two game losing streak after upending Nebraska in Lincoln three weeks ago. Since that game, Iowa State has lost to Texas A&M 35 - 10 and Oklahoma State 34 - 8. In those two games, the Cyclones defense has had difficulty stopping the opposition, allowing 974 total yards including 598 yards on the ground. Last week, Oklahoma State RB Keith Toston ran for 204 yards alone.
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Offensively, Iowa State hasn't been much better the previous two games. The Cyclones had hoped the return of QB Austen Arnaud would jump start the offense after he missed two games with a bruised throwing hand. But the Cyclones only put up 242 yards total and 54 yards on the ground against the Cowboys. Iowa State didn't top 100 yards until seven minutes left in the third quarter. Arnaud finished with 14 of 27 for 188 yards and three interceptions.
Still, the Cyclones rank 29th in the nation, third in the Big 12 running the ball, averaging 185 yards per game. RB Alexander Robinson has been solid this season leading the Cyclones with 96 yards/game good for 29th in the nation as well. When Iowa State throws, they have been less effective. Iowa State only averages 181 yards throwing per game, good for 100th in the nation. Defensively, the Cyclones are ranked 94th giving up 404 yards a contest while only getting to the quarterback and average of 1.2 times a game, good for 107th in the nation.
Of course, the Buffs aren't much better in the statistical look although WR Markques Simas and QB Tyler Hansen statistically had their best days as collegiate athletes. Hansen completed 21-of-32 passes for 271 yards, one touchdown and one INT on Saturday shattering his previous total of 191 yards. He also ran for 45 yards. Hansen would have been well over 100 yards rushing if you didn't factor in the eight sacks that Colorado gave up to Texas A&M. Simas hauled in seven passes for 135 yards. His previous high was three receptions for 47 yards against Kansas.
For the year, the Buffs still rank 111th in total offense and 74th in total defense but since week four, Colorado's defense has improved 27 spots from 101st in the nation.
What continues to plague Colorado is penalties, offensive sacks, turnovers and special teams play. Last week against Texas A&M, the kickoff team allowed another special teams touchdown. The Buffs were called for 10 penalties totaling 94 yards, a trend that has spiraled out of control this year. Colorado ranks an abysmal 117th out of 120 in division one football in penalties per game with 9.1. Dan Hawkins' team is not good enough to be giving up 75 yards a game from penalties. From a turnover perspective, Colorado won the turnover battle 2 - 1 this past weekend but for the year, the Buffs are -.67 in the turnover game, ranking 100th in the nation. And of course, you have to mention the poor pass protection that continues to plague the offense. The last two weeks, Colorado has allowed 16 sacks to the opposition. The Buffs have allowed an average of 4.0 sacks a game, which ranks 118th in the college football with only Miami (OH) and Washington State giving up more sacks.
But the stat that will be talked about this week, once again, is Colorado's poor road record. Under Dan Hawkins, the Buffs are 2 - 18 outside the state of Colorado, the main reason why Iowa State is favored by 5.5 points. One of those losses came in 2007 in Ames against an undermanned Cyclones team. In one of those losses in the Dan Hawkins' era that makes Colorado fans cringe, the Buffs jumped out to a 21 - 0 lead in the first half, out gained Iowa State 419 to 351 but were outscored 31 - 7 in the second to lose.
Earlier this year against Kansas State, Colorado players cited that they lacked energy on the road which described their poor play.
The game will not be televised, the first time this season for Colorado.
In another winnable game on the road, Buff fans will be left wondering how their team will respond yet again after another surprise win. The previous two wins, Colorado lost the following game on the road. Iowa State is 3 - 3 at home this season.