Succeed, you win. Fail, you lose.
There may not be a better predictor for wins and losses – at least for the 2012 Cyclone football team – than third-down proficiency.
When Iowa State has a better conversion percentage on third down than its opponent, the Cyclones are 4-0. When the reverse is true, ISU is 1-5. The exception was a win at TCU.
In its losses, Iowa State opponents have converted 52% of their third-down tries.
The defeats have come against Texas (ranked fourth nationally in third-down conversion percent), Oklahoma (sixth), Kansas State (10th), Texas Tech (14th) and Oklahoma State (23rd).
In its wins, Iowa State has converted on 45% of its third-down tries and held the opposition to 33% on their attempts.
Kansas is 105th nationally in making third downs but 34th in allowing conversions. West Virginia is ranked 40th in the NCAA in converting third downs but 102nd in stopping them.
Iowa State’s bowl fortunes could very well be buried in the third-down statistic.
All Five ISU Losses are to Teams in the BCS Standings
Iowa State’s 2012 football season comes down to its final two games. One Cyclone victory insures bowl eligibility and a second win would likely improve their post-season destination.
The Cyclones are one of four schools nationally, who have played BCS ranked schools the past two weeks (Alabama, Mississippi State and Cal are the others). Despite losing to Oklahoma and Texas in its most-recent outings, Coach Paul Rhoads latched onto a positive thought Saturday night.
“We’ve got five quality losses if that makes sense,” he said. “And, I think it does (make sense) to our kids.”
One hundred percent of ISU’s defeats in 2012 have come vs. teams currently ranked in the Top 25 of the coach’s poll.
Only 14 schools in the major conferences can say all of their losses have been to schools currently ranked. Nine of those teams have lost just once or twice.
The other five – Mississippi State (three defeats, by an average of 25.3 ppg), Michigan (three, by 16), Texas Tech (three, by 20.3), Arizona (four, by 28.5) and Iowa State (five, by 15.8) – have suffered three or more losses to teams currently rated.
Note that Iowa State has played the ranked competition closer than the others listed above.
Rhoads hinted that his team knows how close it has been to gaining big victories all season. That should boost their confidence.
Now, it’s a matter of delivering a victory or two to close out the year.