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WRNL Predicts the 2018 Football Season

Football is finally here!

NCAA Football: Texas Christian at Iowa State Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

The 2018 football season is finally upon us! It may be one of the most anticipated football seasons in Iowa State history. Which is why we the experts will give you a breakdown of how each of us see the season going down!

Let’s dive in shall we!

Levi Stevenson

What Makes or Breaks the Season- The development of the offensive line. If the line performs exactly as they did last year, they’ll make a bowl game, but maybe not much else. If the line improves as much as we all think it can, we could be in for one special season.

Overall Record - 9-4.

Conference Record - 5-4. Wins over Kansas, Baylor, Texas Tech, West Virginia, and Kansas State.

Offensive Team MVP - David Montgomery

Defensive Team MVP - Marcel Spears Jr.

Offensive Breakout Star - Kene Nwangwu. We’ve all seen what he can do in the return game. If the offense can get him in space, we’re going to be watching fireworks.

Defensive Breakout Star - O’Rien Vance. He’s an extremely intelligent linebacker with lots of speed to cover the field. He’s young and will likely make some mistakes early on, but by the middle of the season I think we’ll be looking at the next great Cyclone linebacker.

Breakdown of Season - After a somewhat shaky, but comfortable win against South Dakota State, Matt Campbell and the Cyclones roll into Kinnick Stadium and reclaim the Cy-Hawk trophy. Cedar Rapids-native Orien Vance has a breakout game in front of all of his friends and family, and seals the game late with big a interception on a Nate Stanley throw to Noah Fant. The next week, Oklahoma comes to Jack Trice seeking revenge, and squeaks out a barn-burner. The Cyclone defense flusters Kyler Murray in his first ever Big 12 start, but Rodney Anderson takes over and runs in a dagger late in the 4th quarter. The Cyclone hype train sputters for about a day, before screaming back down the rails. The next week, David Montgomery breaks the 200 rushing yard mark in a drubbing of Akron.

In the return to Big 12 play, Iowa State drops consecutive road trips to TCU and Oklahoma State, though both games are decided by just a touchdown. Iowa State fans are down, but hopeful. The next week, West Virginia comes to Ames undefeated and riding high after putting up over 50 points in each of the last two games against Texas Tech. The powerful West Virginia offense puts up a couple scores early, but John Heacock’s defense makes their halftime adjustments and holds the Mountaineers to just one score in the second half. Meanwhile, Kyle Kempt is finding lots of success in the screen game as well as on seam routes to Chase Allen and Landen Akers. After a slow start to the game, the Cyclones fight back to tie the game early in the fourth before Greg Eisworth gets his first interception as a Cyclone. Then, David Montgomery gets 8 consecutive carries during an 82 yard, 7-minute drive to seal the game. The Cyclone hype train is absolutely overheating at this point.

After the big West Virginia victory, the ‘Clones rattle off three more wins against the consensus bottom three teams in the Big 12 before dropping the last road game of the season to a Texas squad that is stout, but still underperforming relative to expectations. Then comes the Farmageddon Finale against Kansas State.

The game is filled with storylines. Kyle Kempt, Brian Peavy, D’Andre Payne, Willie Harvey, Mike Warren, and Mike Eaton, and likely David Montgomery and Hakeem Butler, are all making their last start in a Cyclone uniform. Bill Snyder is likely coaching his last game. A win gets the Cyclones in the Big 12 Championship game due to a tiebreaker after West Virginia drops its season finale to Oklahoma. Jack Trice is packed to the gills on a cold November night.

Iowa State’s stout run defense flexes its muscles early, slowing the K-State running attack and forcing Skylar Thompson to beat them with his arm. Thompson is mildly successful, but never breaks off a really big play. David Montgomery is having some success, but the solid Wildcat defensive line is clogging up the middle and making it difficult to find space. To give the offense an added wrinkle, Matt Campbell sends in redshirt quarterback Re-al Mitchell to run read options with David Montgomery, and the former California high school track star begins to rip off big chunks of yardage. 8, 14, 7, 9, and 21 yard carries by Mitchell and Montgomery propel the Cyclone offense down the field to take a one score lead late in the fourth quarter. The young Cyclone defense then steps on the field to make their final stand. Through creative play-calling, the Wildcats are able to gain some yardage, before Jaquan Bailey makes a big stop in the backfield to give K-State a 3rd-and-long.

Here we are. 4th-and-13 from the Iowa State 38-yard line. Thompson rolls out on the bootleg, can’t find a receiver, then begins reversing field. When he turns around, Willie Harvey is there to meet him. Thompson heaves a last ditch effort down the field, but the pass is knocked down by Greg Eisworth, sealing the game for the Cyclones.

With an 8-4 regular season record, the Cyclones are rewarded with a trip to the Camping World Bowl, where they take down a resurgent Florida State Seminoles squad on the shoulders of Doak Walker Award winner David Montgomery.

GIF to Culminate the Season:

Matthias Schwartzkopf

What Makes or Breaks the season? The offensive line. If the run blocking does not improve this season it could be a long one. We are lucky last year David Montgomery was an animal and did what he did. Two years in a row? Don’t count on that. The offensive line has to make the room for him

Overall Record – 9-4

Conference Record – 5-4

Offensive Team MVP – David Montgomery

Defensive Team MVP – Marcel Spears Jr.

Offensive Breakout Star – Jalen Martin

Defensive Breakout Star – O’Rien Vance

Breakdown of Season – Another step in the process. Win at Kinnick to get Twitter all fired up. Will flirt again near the top of the Big 12 standings, but show they are still one more year away from a potential trip to Dallas.

GIF to Culminate the Season-


What Makes or Breaks the Season - Meshing as a team before the conference portion of the schedule will be huge for our ‘18 success. Standard Raised.. Again.

Overall Record - 10-3

Conference Record - 7-2

Offensive Team MVP - Deshaunte Jones

Defensive Team MVP - Brian Peavy

Offensive Breakout Star - Kene Nwangwu- who says kickoff returns aren’t an offensive play?

Defensive Breakout Star - Step aside Barry Hill and Everett “Rabbit” Kischer as Greg Eisworth sets the ISU record for interceptions in a game with 5.

Breakdown of Season - A loss that hurts, a loss that makes sense, and a loss due to a poor call.

GIF to culminate the season-


What Makes or Breaks the Season - Effectiveness of Offensive Line’s Performance

Overall Record - 8-5

Conference Record - 5-4

Offensive Team MVP - David Montgomery

Defensive Team MVP - Willie Harvey

Offensive Breakout Star - Deshaunte Jones and his speed combine for 10 TDs (and not just catching passes)

Defensive Breakout Star - Safety Greg Eisworth is an All Big-12 1st Team Selection

Breakdown of Season - Cyclones start off Conference season 0-4, but win final 5 Games

GIF to Culminate the Season -

Evan Brehm

What Makes or Breaks the season? Building a stonewall on offense. If we can give Kempt, or whoever is at QB, time to do what he can do we can make this a good season. Easier said than done, but I do have confidence in this crew to pull this off. We have the weapons on offense but it that OL has been a problem these past few seasons.

Overall Record - 9-5. We start off 5-0 but drop a few conference games with the grind of the round robin schedule. We will win some we shouldn’t and lose some we shouldn’t. We will be in the Top 25 at some point this season.

Conference Record - 6-5. This won’t look impressive compared to other conferences, but we all know why. We play each other every year. I think the best team in the conference will have 3 losses. So a 6-5 Big XII conference record won’t be all too bad.

Offensive Team MVP - David Montgomery. There is such tremendous potential here to explode. With the combination of a good OL, Cambell’s blue collar attitude, and of course Montgomery’s own ability; I suspect a good showing. I think there will be more rushing this year down the defense’s throat.

Defensive Team MVP - Marcel Spears, Jr. Four pick sixes. You heard it here first.

Offensive Breakout Star - Hakeem Butler. We know what he can do, but be prepared for more acrobatic-like one handed front flip catches. He’s going to breakout for the offense this year for some huge plays.

Defensive Breakout Star - A defensive back. Not being lazy here, but I feel very strong in this secondary on defense. I hope to see some interceptions and a lot of broken up passes.

Breakdown of Season - Raising the standard. With my prediction of a respectful 9-5 record, we will be moving forward. 9-5 in the Big XII is attainable, and respectful. Maybe it is the hype of the preseason and camp just starting, but I’d be disappointed if we don’t go 9-5. 2018... us fans are ready!

GIF to Culminate the Season - LET”S DO THIS!!!

Jake Brend

What Makes or Breaks the Season - The offensive line staying healthy and improving way more than last year.

Overall Record - 10-3

Conference Record - 6-3 with Wins over Oklahoma, West Virginia, Texas Tech, Kansas, Baylor, Kansas State

Offensive Team MVP - David Montgomery- He will lead the charge offensively, breaking tackles and getting the extra yard (or 10). He will almost definitely be towards the top of the nation in rushing yards.

Defensive Team MVP - Ray Lima- Like last season, Lima won’t put up the superstar stats but he will be the most effective piece for Iowa State on defense. The Cyclones will still be running their three-man front a lot and Lima will draw two or three defenders which will make that scheme work.

Offensive Breakout Star - Kene Nwangwu- Kene was a lethal kick returner during his freshman season, he is one of the fastest players in the country. Nwangwu will be more involved in the offense than as a freshman, Matt Campbell and staff will try to get him in open space as much as possible.

Defensive Breakout Star - Eyioma Uwazurike- He will be a sophomore starting on the edge, he could lead the team in sacks thanks to Ray Lima taking the entire line by himself. Uwazurike could be the most talented player on this unit.

Breakdown of Season - The only Big 12 game where the margin is 10 or more points will be Kansas, every other game will be decided in the fourth quarter.

SDSU- Iowa State comes out slow in the first quarter but David Montgomery puts the Jack Rabbits out of striking range with a huge game. ISU 42- SDSU 16

Iowa- Kyle Kempt comes out firing early and Iowa State gets out to a big lead. Iowa crawls back the entire game before taking the lead in the fourth. However, Kyle Kempt leads a game winning drive to pick up a huge win. ISU 24- Iowa 20

Oklahoma- The Sooners will get off to a huge start but not capitalize on all opportunities. Iowa State takes advantage and wins the game late. ISU 38- OU 30

Akron- The Cyclones go full throttle and don’t give the zips any chance in this game. ISU 38- Akron 14

TCU- In a revenge game from last year, Gary Patterson’s defense comes up strong in a win. TCU 21- ISU 13

Oklahoma State- Iowa State has had problems with OSU since 2011. Iowa State leads late behind a huge game from David Montgomery but the refs somehow screw us. OSU 35- ISU 31

West Virginia- After coming off of back to back losses, the offense comes out firing and Brian Peavy comes in clutch at the end with a game sealing interception. ISU 30- WVU 21

Texas Tech- Iowa State comes out flat after a week off, they trail early but Kyle Kempt brings them back in the second half. Kene Ngwuandu also has a kick return in this game. ISU 27- TTU 21

Kansas- David Montgomery solidifies his Heisman campaign with 250 yard and 4 TD performance. ISU 38- KU 13

Baylor- Iowa State takes control of the entire game, Baylor scares late but never gets within one score. ISU 17- BU 7

Texas- Tom Herman is out coached the entire game but his team manages to be in it until the very end. Hakeem Butler has a monster game until Herman pulls some devil magic. Texas 24- ISU 22

Kansas State- The revenge game that ISU fans have been looking forward to all year, it’s a low scoring and high scoring game that ISU wins in the last minute. The vampire is defeated 28-24.

ISU finishes tied for 2nd with Oklahoma State in the Big 12 but loses the head to head tiebreaker.

Camping World Bowl vs Virginia Tech- Iowa State has a month to prepare for a tricky VT team, the Cyclone fans show up in Florida to watch the good guys beat the Hokies 34-21.

GIF to culminate the season-

Patrick Brown

What Makes or Breaks the Season - How does the team handle everyone’s best shot? The luxury of underdog status on a weekly basis is long gone – welcome to the world of the proverbial target on the back.

Overall Record – 9-4

Conference Record – 5-4 (wins over Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Kansas, Baylor, Kansas State

Offensive Team MVP – David Montgomery (Hakeem Butler honorable mention)

Defensive Team MVP – JaQuan Bailey

Offensive Breakout Star – Tarique Milton (Look out on punt returns!)

Defensive Breakout Star – O’Rien Vance

Breakdown of Season – A young but talented South Dakota State team has many question marks after losing a ton of starters, and we will be shocked when the typical trap-type game for Iowa State results in a fairly easy victory. A win in Iowa City the following week will be the icing on the cake, having handled both of the FCS-caliber opponents on the schedule with ease.

The Sooners will roll into Ames and exact revenge for last season’s upset in a respectfully close, but disappointing game. That’s an unfortunate outcome for Akron, who will be laughed out of Jack Trice Stadium, MidAmerican Energy Field, Hilton Coliseum brought to you by Best Western hotels, and any other venue along University Blvd that has its name up for sale.

After a few flip-flop wins and losses (TCU loss, Oklahoma State win, West Virginia loss) Iowa State will earn bowl eligibility after three straight wins over Texas Tech, at Kansas, and at Baylor.

The streak will set the stage for a much hyped game between the Cyclones and Longhorns, who will meet in Austin sharing a 7-3 record. Texas will win a squeaker, and we’ll spend the entire week talking about how if Iowa State had won maybe Gameday would have come to Ames to watch us actually beat Kansas State.

In the end, Iowa State will take down UCLA in the Cactus Bowl, but the biggest win of the season comes when Matt Campbell announces he is staying in Ames for at least one more season.

GIF to culminate the season-

Sean Dee

What Makes or Breaks the Season - As simple as this sounds, starting off with 3 wins in our first 4 is a game-changer for the rest of the season. The recipe from last season still holds true this year: Beat the teams we should, stay competitive with everyone else.

Overall Record - 8-5.

Conference Record - 5-4

Offensive Team MVP - David Montgomery (Hot take, I know)

Defensive Team MVP - Brian Peavy (Another scorcher)

Offensive Breakout Star - Kene Nwangwu.

Defensive Breakout Star - Kamilo Tongamoa

Breakdown of Season - The (possibly) most-hyped season in Iowa State Football History shouldn’t disappoint. A bowl appearance should be expected, but this year teams won’t be so quick to underestimate what should be an Iowa State team that is ready to make a leap to consistent relevancy. Expect fireworks, fanfare, and hopefully the return of Matt Campbell after all is said and done.

GIF to Culminate the Season -

Matthew Nelson

What Makes or Breaks the Season - Winning toss-up games. Last year, ISU won the games they were supposed to win, as well as 2 games they weren’t supposed to. But they let games against Kansas State, OSU, Iowa, and WVU slip through their fingers. Taking care of those types of games is basically part 3 of “The Process”.

Overall Record - 9-3

Conference Record - 6-3

Offensive Team MVP - David Montgomery

Defensive Team MVP - Marcel Spears

Offensive Breakout Star - Matt Eaton

Defensive Breakout Star - D’Monte Ruth.

Breakdown of Season - The Cyclones have a terrific 2018 campaign. After taking care of business in weeks 1 and 2, OU smacks around the Cyclones in Ames, and TCU does the same on the road. But the Cyclones finally beat Okie State and win a bar fight (one of several that weekend) against West Virginia. Texas proves to be too much, but the Cyclones feast on the back half of their schedule to get 9 wins.

GIF to Culminate the Season -

Austin Meeks

What Makes or Breaks the Season - This season will come down to the coin-flip game. Iowa State lost the actual coin flip four times last season and coincidentally lost four games. The old saying is tails never fails, but the Cyclone captains have to be able to mix it up. Coach Campbell let the team borrow some coin from his new extension to practice this off-season. Most importantly, he got his quarterback.

Overall Record – 15-0

Conference Record – 12-0 (wins over Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Kansas, Baylor, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia, TCU)

Offensive Team MVP – No offensive coordinator, no offensive MVP.

Defensive Team MVP – Matt Leo (#69) will have a nice season.

Offensive Breakout Star – Corey Dunn, just a couple years younger than Bill Snyder, will kick balls this year.

Defensive Breakout Star – If we are talking stars then there is no better option than Orien (Vance). The kid already has a constellation named after his belt for goodness sake.

Breakdown of Season – Iowa State tries scoring more points than their opponent in the very first week. The strategy is a wild success, helping the Cyclones win their first game. ISU continues their winning ways, overcoming a NCAA record in penalties against along the way. The Big 12 officials bring Condoleeza Rice out of selection committee retirement in an effort to sabotage ISU’s chances at making the final four. It doesn’t work as Iowa State finally plays in a JANUARY BOWL GAME January 7th against ‘Bama.

GIF to Culminate the Season-