The first game of the season ended in a worst-case scenario situation for Iowa State. Not only did Iowa State lose to Louisiana in its only nonconference game, but they were blown out 31-14.
The game serves as a reminder that while the Cyclones have improved a ton over Head Coach Matt Campbell's career as their coach, there is still some growing to do.
Despite this, Campbell said Iowa State is not in panic mode. Cyclone fans shouldn't be either.
Iowa State Head Coach Matt Campbell: I'm not in a panic mode by any stretch of the imagination.#Cyclones— Zane Douglas (@zdouglas27) September 12, 2020
Since I'm on the outside looking in, it's easier for me to tell a fan base not to panic about this, but since Campbell became head coach, the Cyclones have struggled in September every year. It might seem like an issue, but a team struggling early is far better than if it struggles later, and Iowa State has shown that it'll bounce back.
Last season, Iowa State barely snuck in a first-game win over Northern Iowa and then lost a nail-biter to the rival Iowa Hawkeyes.
After a few games, the team found itself and competed strongly in the Big 12, even putting up fights against Baylor and Oklahoma, the two representatives in 2019's Big 12 Championship.
A win against Texas and a dominance over the lower-level teams in the country left the Cyclones at 7-5 despite a lackluster nonconference start.
While the expectations were high for 2019, they did not match what was expected of Iowa State in 2020, and, to make things worse, the Cyclones got only one nonconference game, and it was against a respectable Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns team. Louisiana was even good enough to solicit a No. 19 ranking in the latest Associated Press Top 25 Poll.
The Cyclones were beaten in a weird year against a good team in a game that matters less than the rest. On top of that, Iowa State's roster is still littered with talent.
Quarterback Brock Purdy had a lot of hype surrounding him, but since he had one of the worst games of his career Saturday, it's understandable to look at the flaws.
Purdy broke single-season Iowa State records last year and will likely break Iowa State career records this season, and one game won't change that.
Behind Purdy is running back Breece Hall, who was one held onto ball away from an excellent day. The tight ends are led by Charlie Kolar, who missed game one with an injury but is one of the better tight ends in college football.
The offensive line and wide receivers are still growing, but the offense will be close to full strength next time around when the Cyclones start conference play.
The other side of the ball is even better with a defensive line riddled with star power, as JaQuan Bailey, Zach Petersen, Will McDonald, Enyi Uwazurike and Latrell Bankston will all give opposing quarterbacks and running backs nightmares.
Led by Mike Rose, the linebacking core was solid on Saturday, and the defensive backs looked good, aside from the 78-yard touchdown pass.
There is still a lot to like about Iowa State, and conference play hasn't even begun. It will begin soon, though, and Iowa State definitely has some things to work on between now and then. That game was not a practice game, but it certainly means less for the season than any other game the Cyclones will play.
Before the first game, I predicted that the Cyclones would go 7-3 in the season and miss out on a chance at the Big 12 Championship. The Iowa State Daily's three other writers covering football this year said Iowa State would finish 8-2 or higher.
One loss in nonconference play doesn't change the fact that Iowa State will be competing for a Big 12 Championship, and neither would one win, but with everyone so high on the Cyclones, it can feel that way.