“Don’t be limited by the expectations of others. You can always be better and do more.” – Bruce Oldfield, British fashion designer.
There is no question that Iowa State football coach Paul Rhoads subscribes to that statement. The fifth-year Cyclone coach has built a coaching reputation based upon proving the prognosticators wrong.
Phil Steele, the college football author and analyzer, recently published a three-year study (2010-12) on the performance of college football teams in roles as favorites and/or underdogs.
Steele’s research showed that ISU had the second-best differential between games favored in (10) and actual victories (17). That plus-7 margin was surpassed by only Rice (plus-8: favored seven times, 15 wins).
The best programs at exceeding expectations – after Rice and Iowa State – were Kansas State and UCLA (plus-6) and Ball State, East Carolina, Miami (Ohio), North Texas, Rutgers, Wake Forest and Washington (plus-5).
At the other end of the Steele’s list were Illinois (minus-7, which means seven fewer wins than games favored in) and Air Force, Houston, Iowa, Nebraska, North Carolina, Troy, UCF, USF and Virginia Tech (minus-6).
According to Steele, the Cyclones have recorded nine upset wins in the last three seasons. That is tied (with eight other schools) for the most in the nation.
Based upon preseason projections, Iowa State will be an underdog a number of times again this fall.
That’s the perfect set-up if recent history is any indication.