AMES, Iowa (AP) — Lost in the uproar over Iowa State's controversial loss to Texas earlier this month was that it appeared to show that the Cyclones could hang with the best of the Big 12.
A thin and inexperienced roster was decimated by injuries, and the bottom fell out for Iowa State. The Cyclones have lost their last two games by a combined 95 points and appear headed for their worst season under fifth-year coach Paul Rhoads.
Iowa State (1-6, 0-4 Big 12) heads to Kansas State on Saturday needing to win every game left on its schedule for bowl eligibility.
Given how poorly the Cyclones have played over the past few weeks, such a streak seems unlikely.
"It's a challenge, for sure, to keep them motivated. It's one that welcome. It's one that I think I'm pretty good at," Rhoads said. "These guys are mature enough to understand that college football isn't a Cinderella story...it's not a fairy tale. You win by having great preparation and great execution."
Staying healthy is also important — and neither quarterback Sam Richardson nor running back Aaron Wimberly were around by the second half of Oklahoma State's 58-27 blowout win on Saturday.
Richardson, who has been battling an ankle injury since the opener, had 95 yards passing and 64 yards rushing in just over a quarter as the Cyclones worked to rally from an early 21-0 deficit.
But Richardson slid awkwardly on a third down run early in the second quarter and was hit in the head and neck by linebacker Tyler Johnson. Richardson spent the rest of the afternoon on the bench, and backup Grant Rohach finished with just 97 yards on 12 of 23 passing.
Richardson is expected to start Saturday against the Wildcats.
"Sam is fine. He practiced (Sunday), did everything we asked of him," Rhoads said. "The plan will be to go through the week and make sure that he's 100 percent off this recent injury and can operate the offense."
Wimberly, who ran for 254 yards in back-to-back games against Tulsa and Texas, didn't play against the Cowboys because of a hamstring injury.