DES MOINES (AP) — Iowa State couldn’t afford to have anything go wrong this season.
Instead, the Cyclones were hit hard: Injuries along the offensive line and at quarterback doomed Iowa State’s offense starting in September and an overwhelmed defense was gashed repeatedly in Big 12 play.
The result was a 3-9 record — by far the worst in coach Paul Rhoads’s five seasons — that cost offensive coordinator Courtney Messingham and running backs coach Kenith Pope their jobs on Sunday.
Iowa State (3-9, 2-7 Big 12) scored just 24.8 points a game, which ranks 93rd in the country, and had 17 points or less four times in Big 12 play. The Cyclones also allowed over 40 points six times in nine league games.
Iowa State was in trouble from the start.
The Cyclones thought they had finally found an answer at quarterback Sam Richardson, who had shown promise after winning the job late in the 2012 season. But Richardson sprained his ankle during the season opener against Northern Iowa, and Iowa State limped to a 28-20 loss that hardly felt like a fluke.
The Cyclones were pushed around in a home loss to rival Iowa. A win at Tulsa buoyed the program heading into Big 12 play, where a national stage and a national name, Texas, awaited in the first week of October.
It would be the only time all season that the Cyclones made national news.
Iowa State looked set to knock off Texas when Johnathan Gray was stripped of the ball by Jeremiah George near the goal line in the final minute. But the officials ruled Gray down, the Longhorns soon scored and Iowa State was saddled with a 31-30 loss that’ll sting for years to come.
The next six weeks were a blur. After hanging tough at Texas Tech, the Cyclones were blown out by Baylor, Oklahoma State, Kansas State and Oklahoma and knocked out of the postseason picture by Nov. 2.