Ames, IA – A Big 12 Conference battle will take place in Ames ranked Texas A&M Aggies.
Texas A&M has won its last two games to move to 4-2 overall, and the club has scored no fewer than 29 points in any of its six outings. Last Saturday, the Aggies treated the College Station faithful to a 55-28 triumph over a talented Baylor squad. Mike Sherman's group now looks ahead to this week's affair in which they are considered a road favorite.
"We have a lot of respect for Coach Rhoads and his staff at Iowa State," said Sherman. "Going up there will be a big challenge for us. I think this win is huge. We think we have a good football team, but are we? We have to prove it every single time we walk on the field."
Paul Rhoads' Cyclones opened the season with three consecutive wins by a grand total of eight points, but the team has suffered three straight losses since that time. All three defeats have been lopsided, including last weekend's 52-17 setback at Missouri. Including this week's Homecoming tilt, three of the next four games for Iowa State will take place in Ames.
"We're sitting at 3-3 in the midpoint of our season, there are six football games left and we can still accomplish the expectations of this football program but we've got a lot of work to do to ensure that happens," said Rhoads.
Texas A&M owns a commanding 9-1 series advantage over Iowa State, which includes a 2-0 mark under Sherman.
The Aggies have no trouble lighting up the scoreboard, as they are averaging 41.7 ppg while gaining 524.7 total ypg. What makes the team so lethal is that it can dominate with both the run and the pass. Of the 30 offensive touchdowns scored by the club, 17 have been of the rushing variety, and A&M is averaging 5.5 ypc. Christine Michael and Cyrus Gray have both run for over 500 yards and seven touchdowns, giving the Aggies one of the top tailback tandems in all of college football. As for the passing attack, Ryan Tannehill has completed 67.1 percent of his passes for 1,742 yards and 13 touchdowns with six interceptions, and Ryan Swope paces the receivers with 40 catches for 619 yards and six scores.
It is hard to imagine A&M playing any better offensively than it did against Baylor last week, as the club posted a staggering total of 681 total yards. Tannehill threw six touchdown passes, including four to Swope (11 rec, 206 yds).
"Swope did a great job all day," said Tannehill. "He was able to get open and break tackles. The one I threw over the middle I knew he would get hit but he was able to stay on his feet and go all the way. It was fun watching him play today, he did a great job for us."
While the A&M offense has clearly been stellar, the team's defense has been average at best. The Aggies are surrendering 26.8 ppg and 433.7 total ypg, numbers that simply must improve. They are yielding only 72.3 rushing ypg at a minuscule clip of 2.2 ypc, but the pass defense has been downright horrendous. Opposing QBs are averaging 361.3 ypg against the Aggies, who have been victimized for 12 passing scores while notching just three interceptions. With only four takeaways in six games, A&M simply has not made enough impact plays.
Texas A&M permitted 480 yards to Baylor, including 430 through the air on 28 completions. The Aggies came up with an interception, and surrendered just 50 rushing yards on 31 attempts.
The good news for the Aggies is that Iowa State isn't nearly as potent an offensive team as Baylor. Last week against Missouri, the Cyclones managed a modest total of 343 total yards and turned the ball over three times. ISU held the ball for less than 27 minutes in that affair and was a combined 7-of-22 on third and fourth-down conversion attempts. Steele Jantz threw for 161 yards to pace the stagnant Cyclone offense, and James White posted 93 total yards from scrimmage.
Missouri exploded for 583 yards and seven offensive touchdowns against the overmatched Cyclones, who couldn't stop the run or the pass. Sure, they did notch a pair of interceptions in the affair, but the overall showing was disappointing to say the least.
Through six outings, Iowa State is posting a respectable 24.2 ppg and 381.7 total ypg, but the team is allowing 36.3 ppg and 447.2 total ypg. Fourteen rushing touchdowns have been given up already, and the pass defense has notched a mere three interceptions. Meanwhile, the Cyclones have committed 18 of their own turnovers. Jantz has thrown for 1,322 yards and 10 touchdowns, and White leads the club in rushing with 384 yards and five scores.