Game Preview: Iowa State Cyclones
Cy-Hawk weekend has finally arrived! In what is being touted as the most anticipated edition of the Cy-Hawk game ever, the Iowa Hawkeyes will travel to Ames to take on the Iowa State Cyclones at 3 P.M. Iowa enters ranked 19th in the AP Poll and 18th in the Coaches Poll, with Iowa State entering with the 26th highest vote total in the AP Poll and 29th highest in the Coaches Poll. Iowa travels to Ames off of a thorough domination of the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers, while Iowa State comes off an early season bye following the season opening, triple overtime victory over Northern Iowa. Iowa enters as a 2-point favorite after being as much as a 4 point underdog prior to the Week 2 victory over Rutgers.
Iowa's Offense Against The Scarlet Knight Defense
The matchup of Nate Stanley and company against Iowa State's defense is the harder of the two unit matchups to predict. The Cyclones return 8 of the starters off a defense that was the best in the Big 12 and Iowa State's defense looks poised to be one of the best defenses in the Big 12 again this year.
I look for Iowa State's front seven to wreak havoc on the Iowa running game early and largely bottle up the Iowa run game at first. Iowa will need to depend on their deep stable of wide receivers and get the ball into the hands of the running backs through the air to open up the defense. I expect Iowa to come out of the gates throwing out of run formations, sprinkle in some play action pass, and open up the Iowa State defense from the outside in with success through the air. The run game should get going as the game wears on and the big guys up front wear out the Iowa State front seven.
Iowa's Defense Against The Scarlet Knight Offense
The Iowa front seven could be poised for a massive coming out party against the Iowa State offense. It has been well documented how bad Iowa State's offensive line was last year, and the largely return that same offensive line from a season. Based on what they showed in Week 1, they are improved but still very vulnerable in pass protection and having run plays blown up by pressure. Iowa's defensive line should be able to generate pressure against the Iowa State offensive line and should be in quarterback Brock Purdy's face early and often. The biggest key to Iowa's success will be finishing those pressures with sacks quick enough to avoid Purdy carving up the banged up Iowa secondary, and do so in a way that keeps the Cyclone quarterback in the pocket. The matchup to watch will be A.J. Epenesa against Iowa State left tackle Julian Good-Jones. If Epenesa consistently gets the better of Good-Jones, it will be a long day for the Iowa State offense.
Special teams always seems to come into play during the Cy-Hawk game, and this year should be no different. Iowa should have the edge in special teams, with veteran punter Michael Sleep-Dalton showing the capability against Rutgers to pin punts deep in the opponent's territory and get off long punts when given the opportunity. Placekicking would appear to be fairly even, with both young kickers having shown range from 40+ yards.
The outcome of the first two weeks hasn't changed my view on this game. Iowa State's offensive line was suspect a year and they didn't really replace anybody off of that line, and based on their performance against UNI, they aren't quite there yet. This game shapes up to be a defensive struggle throughout, with the scoring opportunities being few and far between. I think Nate Stanley could have a monster day, as Iowa State will likely try to take away Iowa's running attack and force Stanley to beat them. This will be a competitive game throughout, with both defensive lines pacing their team. I see this game being a one score game well into the fourth quarter, with Iowa putting together a long offensive possession to put the game out of reach.
Iowa State 14
As always, On Iowa! and Go Hawks!
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