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College Football Analysis: Can Iowa State Win More than 6 Games in 2012?

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Iowa State won 6 regular season games last year and played Rutgers in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl. The oddsmakers don’t think the Cyclones can gain bowl eligibility this year and have set their 2012 college football win totals at over 4.5 (+135) and under 4.5 (-175).

Helping us preview and project Iowa State’s 2012 college football win totals is one of our readers and self-proclaimed Cyclone homer, Mark Pruin. You can follow Mark on Twitter @pru4isu.

The Cyclone offense

Iowa State only averaged 22.7 ppg last year, but other than the uncertainty at the quarterback position, new offensive coordinator Courtney Messingham has some solid options to work with.

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Iowa State has good depth at running back with Shontrelle Johnson, James White and Jeff Woody. The Cyclones should also be solid on the offensive line with three starters returning and six players returning overall with starting experience.

The wide receivers are a decent group. Josh Lenz, Jarvis West, Aaron Horne are a good group and freshman Quenton Bundrage and Tad Ecby add to the play making ability.

Quarterback is the biggest question mark on offense for Iowa State. A starter still hasn’t been named, but Steele Jantz and Jared Barnett have game experience from last year and an added year of experience should only help them.

If ISU can run the ball behind that good OL, that will take pressure off the QB.

The Cyclone defense

Iowa State allowed nearly 30 ppg last year (29.39) and could be hard pressed to match those mediocre results with this years defensive unit.

The DL must replace three multi-year starters, and more importantly, the secondary, which was ISU’s defensive strength last season must replace playmakers Leonard Johnson at CB (a 4 year starter) and Ter’ran Benton at SS.

AJ Klein and Jake Knott are one of the best LB combos in the country. They combined for 23 percent of the Cyclones’ tackles last year.

Schedule Analysis

Other than Western Illinois, there are no guaranteed wins on the Cyclones schedule. Even a game at lowly Kansas could prove to be difficult considering ISU only beat the Jayhawks 13-10 last year in Ames.

However, on the bright side, only OU and Texas appear to be guaranteed losses. The remaining schedule, though daunting, is not impossible. The Cyclones look to have a lot of “swing games” this season.

Games at Iowa, at TCU, at Oklahoma State and home against West Virginia appear to be losses on paper, but we all know what HC Paul Rhoads has done in the past (at Nebraska, at Texas and Oklahoma State last year). He gets a lot of mileage out of his players and will continue to get them to play hard-nosed, competitive football.

Iowa State’s 2012 College Football Win Totals

HC Paul Rhoads has Iowa State believing more and more that every week they can be competitive and can play with any team in the Big 12. Rhoads also proclaims this Cyclone team to be his deepest and most talented.

However, the Cyclones don’t figure to be favored in more than a few games this season, so they will have to pull quite a few upsets in order to surpass the 4.5 win total that the oddsmakers have set for them this year.

Do you think Iowa State can gain bowl eligibility for the third time in the past four years? 

- Pez

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Get more great college football analysis over at Saturday Edge.