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Game Day

12/3/2014

UNI (9-4) vs. Illinois State (10-1)

When: Saturday, Dec. 6

Where: Hancock Stadium, Normal, Illinois

Kickoff: 1 p.m. CDT

David Johnson continues to be the straw that stirs the drink for the University of Northern Iowa. The senior running back ran for 152 yards and three touchdowns and had two receptions for 84 yards and a score to lead the Panthers to a 44-10 victory over Stephen F. Austin in the first round of the FCS Playoffs last Saturday. What a difference a month makes. On Oct. 18, UNI sat dead in the water with a 3-4 overall mark. Since then, however, the Panthers have reeled off six straight victories, one of which was against this week’s formidable opponent, Illinois State. On Nov. 1 in the friendly, warm confines of the UNI Dome, the Panthers handed the Redbirds its only defeat of the season, 42-28. Illinois State is still stinging from the earlier loss and has home field advantage to boot. But this is a Northern Iowa team that put up 35 second-half points in the game and used that momentum to topple top-ranked North Dakota State the following week. They’ve never looked back. If Johnson stirs up another big one, the Panthers advance. If not, it could be a long, sour day.

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Iowa State (2-9) vs. TCU (10-1)

When: Saturday, Dec. 6

Where: Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, Texas

Kickoff: 11 a.m. CDT

It’s almost over. The nightmare, that is. For Iowa State, next Saturday’s road game against No. 5 Texas Christian University (TCU) will mark the end of what some are saying has been the worst season at Iowa State since Gene Chizik roamed the sidelines for two years, which, unfortunately, directly preceeded the current regime, which is being led by Paul Rhoads. All these years of hunger are not playing well with Cyclone fans anymore. Patience is wearing as thin as the December air. Take last Saturday’s 37-24 loss to West Virginia. Up 21-7, Iowa State predictably folded, gave the lead away, clawed back to give fans a slight, glimmering ray of hope, only to shart it down its collective pants. All this in front of a stadium filled with people disguised as empty seats. The student section numbered 30, tops (likely out-of-stater stragglers with no mode of transportation home for the Thanksgiving weekend), and the rest of the bleachers were so spotty, a passerby wouldn’t have known if it was a college football game taking place or the state high school marching band competition. The end is near, and thankfully so. One more game, Cyclone fans. One. More. Game.

Baylor (10-1) vs. Kansas State (9-2)

When: Saturday, Dec. 6

Where: McLane Stadium, Waco, Texas

Kickoff: 6:45 p.m. CDT

Kansas State’s 51-13 blasting of Kansas last weekend set up a showdown at fifth-ranked Baylor this weekend. The winner will earn no worse than a tie for the Big 12 title, and could take the championship outright depending on the outcome of the TCU and Iowa State game. The outcome of that one? Uhhhh, yeah. Kansas State, Baylor and TCU each have 7-1 records in conference play, and all three need wins. TCU, for all intents and purposes, has a bye week against the Cyclones, so it’s up to these to squads to duke it out in what is shaping up to be the best of the bunch across the entire collegiate football spectrum. Baylor found the sledding to be a lot tougher than anticipated in its 48-46 win over a mediocre (at best) Texas Tech squad last weekend. Kansas State also has a bit of payback on its mind. The Wildcats were unbeaten when they went to Baylor two years ago and were crushed. A victory in that game, followed by a win over Texas the following week, would have catapulted them into national title game. Tune in. CV

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