Iowa State defense Louisiana

Iowa State's defense waits for play to resume during the first half on Saturday against Louisiana.

There are many adjectives to describe what happened Saturday afternoon between No. 23 Iowa State and Louisiana.

Frustrating. Disappointment. Head-scratching. Underwhelming.

I'll use the correct term: Expected.

The Cyclones waltzed onto MidAmerican Energy Field at Jack Trice Stadium as the darling of the Big 12 Conference, with a quarterback viewed as someone who can lead them to prominence and a defense filled with experience.

They walked slowly back to the locker room 0-1 as the Ragin' Cajuns pulled the 31-14 upset in an unexpected turn of events in an unexpected season to begin with.

But, really, we should've expected this. Even though none of us want to admit it.

This is what is considered normal for Iowa State under the direction of Head Coach Matt Campbell.

Play up to your competition, play down to your competition.

The Cyclones needed triple overtime to defeat Northern Iowa in last year's season-opener. Squeaking by Drake in the slop and mud 27-24 two seasons ago was viewed as a 'What just happened' moment. Those are teams the Cyclones should be demolishing by 30-plus points.

To the surprise of no one, Campbell didn't like the posed question of playing to the level of the opponent.

"I think you're comparing apples and oranges. I don't think that's fair," Campbell said. "Different situations in my own opinion. Two drastically different teams."

And those two close wins were against Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) programs. Iowa State had to play one of the most explosive offenses in the country and didn't respond to the challenge.

The offense bungled drive after drive. Brock Purdy completed just 16 passes, had a QBR of 74.8 and a lot of the blame isn't even on him. No receiver had more than 45 yards and all of them dropped multiple passes.

If it wasn't for a couple missed field goals, Louisiana would've won by over 20.

Brock Purdy

Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy looks to pass in the first half against Louisiana on Saturday at Jack Trice Stadium.

"I don't think I played good at all," Purdy said. "I need to do a better job."

The defense did enough to keep Iowa State in the game, stiffening on a couple turnovers by the offense and holding the Ragin' Cajuns to zero points on those short field drives.

Yet even that side of the ball struggled to make plays in the second half.

Four players had a grand total of six tackles. That's an abysmal number from a defense as talented as this one. The secondary was beat on one big play, a 78-yard catch and run from Peter LeBlanc, and could never tackle in open space.

Truly, the biggest blunder came on special teams, but I'm not going to touch that. Too much for one column.

About the only area of remote positivity was the play of the offensive line, one of the biggest question marks entering the game.

Even when starting left guard Trevor Downing went down in the first half, that unit still kept Purdy upright as he was only sacked once.

When the biggest uncertainty was the best part of a lopsided loss, that's the first sign this season could be a long one.

In the end, Iowa State got in its own way yet again. That has cost them when the expectations are high and low. In the highest of highest season expectations, this was a blunder of blunders.

Really, this is all too common for Iowa State. Until significant adjustments are made where this isn't normal, the Cyclones will remain a middle-of-the-pack program.

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