AMES - With suddenly resurgent Colorado coming to town and their bowl situation remaining murky at best, the Iowa State Cyclones sounded a bit anxious Monday.
"Colorado," said assistant head coach Bill Bleil, "they're very physical. They will bring pressure."
Truthfully, most of Iowa State's pressure comes from within at the moment. The Cyclones (5-5) are desperate to end a bowl drought that dates back to 2005, but have little margin for error.
With two regular-season games remaining, Iowa State may need to win out to assure itself a postseason appearance.
According to NCAA statistics, there are currently 48 bowl-eligible teams nationally.
Twenty-two more teams, including Iowa State, have five wins and several more have four with no fewer than two regular-season games remaining.
There are 34 bowl games this season, meaning only 68 FBS teams will get to experience the postseason.
Iowa State, a largely inexperienced program, could sorely use the roughly 15 additional practices a bowl game allows for.
"We know what's at stake right now," safety James Smith said Monday.
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In a wild year in the Big 12, the Cardinal and Gold could still finish as high as second-place in the North Division. They could also finish last.
"The Big 12 is in a crazy situation right now, with people beating people left and right," Cyclone head coach Paul Rhoads noted recently. "We're gonna have to line up to beat Colorado."
The Buffaloes (3-6 overall, 2-3 Big 12) were reportedly on the verge of mutiny last week before beating Texas A&M in a 35-34 thriller.
"I tell you what: I don't think our guys have ever lacked for enthusiasm," said Colorado coach Dan Hawkins, purported to be on the hot seat. "We just keep plugging away."
And so must the Cyclones, who seek a return to inspired play on both sides of the line of scrimmage. Defensively, Iowa State has surrendered 598 total rushing yards the last two weeks. And, on offense, the club has scored just one touchdown in each of the last three games.
Linebacker Fred Garrin said his unit needs to have all 11 players fulfilling their own, individual assignments.
"We need to be more gap-sound," said the senior.
"Gap-integrity, little things like that can lead to big gains," added Smith.
Offensively, the Cyclones have hardly looked like a bowl team of late, averaging just 148.3 passing yards per game since Oct. 24.
"The offense, we've been kinda stagnant the last (three) weeks," admitted receiver Marquis Hamilton.
Yes, the Cyclones sounded anxious during Monday's media gathering. Yet, excitement also crept into a few of their quotes, due to the fact they're only technically one win away from bowl eligibility and a possible trip to a warm-weather locale like New Mexico or Houston, Texas.
"Our goal this whole season has been to get to a bowl game and win it," said center Reggie Stephens. "We just need to get that 'W.'"
EXTRA POINTS: Senior defensive end Rashawn Parker, who tore an ACL against Army on Sept. 26, said Monday he hopes to get a medical redshirt and return next season. "I'm not ready to move on with my life," he said. ... Bleil filled in for Rhoads at Monday's weekly press conference because the head coach attended the funeral of the brother of punter Daniel Kuehl, a Sioux City native. ... Iowa State's road game at Missouri Nov. 21 will kick off at 1 p.m. and will not be televised.