3:30 PM ET, October 22, 2011
Jack Trice Stadium, AMES, IA
Since poor second-half efforts led to consecutive defeats, Texas A&M has delivered a pair of complete performances.
The 17th-ranked Aggies could be in line for a third straight win with a game against struggling Iowa State up next.
Texas A&M looks to build off its best offensive performance of the season Saturday in Ames, where the Cyclones will try to avoid a fourth consecutive defeat.
The Aggies (4-2, 2-1 Big 12) got outscored by 18 and 22 points, respectively, in the second halves of losses to then-No. 7 Oklahoma State and then-No. 18 Arkansas. Since then, they've bounced back with a 45-40 victory at Texas Tech and a 55-28 romp last Saturday over then-No. 20 Baylor, and are only one game out of first place in the conference.
Senior quarterback Ryan Tannehill went 25 of 37 for 415 yards and a career-high six touchdowns against the Bears, with four of the TDs going to junior wide receiver Ryan Swope as Texas A&M rolled up a season-best 681 yards of total offense.
"We've had a couple of tough losses, but we think we're in the thick of this thing for the Big 12 championship," Tannehill said. "We want to win out, win every game, and we have a tough road ahead of us. Starts with Iowa State this week."
The Aggies have one of the nation's most potent offenses, averaging 524.7 yards -- seventh in the FBS -- with 41.7 points per game, and Cyclones coach Paul Rhoads is not expecting anything less than Texas A&M's best even though it is coming off back-to-back emotional wins.
"Coach (Mike) Sherman has been around this way too long to allow (a letdown) to happen," Rhoads said.
That doesn't bode well for Iowa State (3-3, 0-3), which fell 52-17 at Missouri on Saturday and has been outscored by an average of 27.0 points during its three-game skid.
The Cyclones, who have been outscored 54-10 in the first quarter this season, continue to struggle against the run, ranking 110th in the FBS with 218.0 yards allowed per game. Opponents have averaged an incredible 344.5 yards on the ground during Iowa State's last two contests, and the Aggies' duo of Christine Michael and Cyrus Gray will present another serious challenge.
They have combined for 1,086 yards and 14 TDs, giving Texas A&M the 16th-ranked rushing attack in the nation (227.7 yards per game).
"If your'e going to stop the run, you've got to commit people to stop it," Rhoads said.
Rhoads would like to commit to a quarterback, but as of Monday he had not announced whether junior Steele Jantz would keep his starting job or if redshirt freshman Jared Barnett, a native of Garland, Texas, would get the nod for the first time.
Barnett completed 3 of 8 passes for 25 yards with an interception Saturday in his first collegiate action after Jantz was benched.
Whoever gets the start will need better protection from an offensive line that has yielded 12 sacks during the losing streak.
Texas A&M's defense leads the nation with 4.33 sacks per game.
If the Cyclones can't get pressure on Tannehill, who has been sacked just three times, they could be in real danger of losing four straight for the first time since a 10-game slide in 2008.
Texas A&M, which moves to the SEC next July, is 7-1 against Iowa State since the Big 12's inception in 1996. The Aggies are 4-0 against the Cyclones in Ames.
Top 25 Overview
Iowa State's quarterback situation is uncertain, but Texas A&M will leave Texas for a game for the first time all season. Ryan Tannehill and Ryan Swope have emerged as one of the league's top pass-catch combos.
|Avg Points Allowed||25.4||35.9|