Ames, Iowa It might be difficult for Iowa State to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
But the Cyclones have gotten much better over the past two weeks. While their progress hasn't resulted in wins, it has given coach Gene Chizik a glimpse of what might be ahead.
Iowa State (1-8, 0-5 Big 12), fresh off a pair of encouraging performances against No. 5 Oklahoma and No. 9 Missouri, plays host to Kansas State today.
Chizik said the way the Cyclones responded to an early 14-0 deficit at Missouri, pulling within 17-14 near the end of the first half, was an example of the resilience they continue to show even though they're headed for a second straight losing season.
"I really respect our football team," Chizik said. "I respect these young guys."
Iowa State is also encouraged by what it saw from freshman running back Alexander Robinson.
He became the third Cyclone running back this season to rush for over 100 yards, picking up 149 yards on 21 carries against Missouri.
Robinson's most impressive run came in the fourth quarter. Down by 21 and facing 4th-down-and-1, Robinson broke free for a 37-yard touchdown run, Iowa State's second-longest play of the season.
Chizik said that Robinson, who started the season opener but has since played sparingly, appeared unnerved at times early in the season.
But that changed against the Tigers, as Robinson put forth the best rushing game by an Iowa State back this season.
"I thought he ran for some tough yards," Chizik said. "I was proud of him."
Led by Robinson, Iowa State's offense had arguably its best game of the season. The Cyclones held the ball for 38:22 and outgained the Tigers, one of the nation's top-rated offense, 389-366.
Iowa State also had two touchdowns inside the Missouri 20-yard line.
That was a marked change from the Oklahoma game, when the Cyclones scored just once in four trips to the Sooners' red zone.
"It was nice to see us finish off some drives," Chizik said.