Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads admits he would like to have a sure win on the schedule for the opener. Instead the Cyclones will host a Tulsa team that finished 8-5 a year ago and lost to BYU in the Armed Forces Bowl.
The Golden Hurricane have been established as a one point favorite. “They were 7-0 late in the season in their conference race, they expect to win…this is a scary game for us,” Rhoads says.
Rhoads says the Cyclones are approaching this game as the underdog. “I don’t know if it’s fair to say that we’re comfortable in the underdog position, but we find ourselves in it quite often,” Rhoads says. He says they have done well in those games where they were considered the underdog.
Rhoads says Tulsa will be the toughest opener since he has been the I.S.U. coach. Rhoads believes the Cyclone defense will be improved but says he won’t know for sure until Saturday.
“We’re a smarter defense, we’ve coached things a lot less as we’ve gone through this training camp than we have in the past,” he says. Rhoads says they have more depth on defense and that will help them be better too.
Steele Jantz will get the start at quarterback and Rhoads says Jantz has improved his short and intermediate throws. He says he thought Jantz’s best ability was the deep ball back when they recruited him, and now he understands how to deliver the quick pass with touch.