Big 12 Power Rankings: Little Separation At the Top

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Nov 23, 2012; Ames, Iowa, USA; Iowa State Cyclones quarterback Sam Richardson (12) rushes up field against West Virginia Mountaineers safety Darwin Cook (25) during the second half at Jack Trice Stadium. West Virginia defeated Iowa State 31-24. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

9. Iowa State Cyclones

Last Season: 6-7 (3-6)

Key Player: Sam Richardson

Key Word: Rebuild


Iowa State returns just nine starters from last year’s bowl team, and will lose a lot from their defense. There is reason to believe this is going to be more of a rebuilding year, but Paul Rhoads is known for squeezing six wins out of teams with lesser talent.

The question will be whether or not the Cyclone offense can produce enough points to win shootouts given the weakness of their defense. Chris Klenakis has come in to help instill a fast-paced offense that will take advantage of the pistol formation. Sophomore quarterback Sam Richardson certainly has the legs to make the ground game work, but does he have the arm, too?

That answer could be the difference to whether or not ISU makes a bowl game again this season.