Rhoads hoping tough slate toughened team

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Among the Power Five conferences, five football teams have faced opponents with cumulative winning percentages above 70%.

Two are from the ACC (Syracuse, .750 and Clemson, .703) and there is one each from the SEC (Tennessee, .708), the Pac-12 (Washington State, .710) and the Big 12 (Iowa State, .880). No school from the Big Ten has faced a schedule with a cumulative winning rate above 70%.

The Orange, Tigers, Volunteers, Cougars and Cyclones have combined to win 10 of 26 games against their formidable competition. That isn’t surprising.

For comparison, the teams in this week’s Associated Press Top 25 have a cumulative opponent winning percentage of 51%.

By season’s end, schedule strength will balance out for most schools. And, that just emphasizes you can’t make too many concrete judgments on teams at this juncture. There is too much football yet to be played.

Cyclone opponents have won 22 games this fall (tied with Washington State, whose foes have lost nine times), the most in the nation. The losses were to the top two rated teams – Florida State and Auburn– as well as Iowa State (which beat Iowa).

In Iowa State’s case, Coach Paul Rhoads believes the early season challenges have built resolve.

“We’re hoping that it’s toughened us up and thickened our skin,” Rhoads said. “I’m very hopeful that (for) the next seven games it is going to pay off.”

Rhoads believes his team has kept its focus so far.

“We have played good people and hung in there,” Rhoads said. “And, we have to continue that fight.”

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