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2018 Game I: Iowa State vs. “The Team Out East” Football Preview

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The CyHawk Series heads to Iowa Chitty for the Hok’s Super Bowl

Iowa v Iowa State Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images

2018 Game I: Iowa State (0-0, 0-0) vs. “The Team Out East” (1-0, 0-0 Big Ten)

Date: Saturday, September 8, 2018

Time: 4:00 P.M. CST

Location: Nile Kinnick Stadium, Iowa Chitty, IA

Capacity: 69,250

Line: UI -4.5

Television: FOX

Radio: Cyclone Radio Network

Game Notes/Release

UI Game Notes

SB Nation Website - Black Heart Gold Pants

Welp, that was a doozie. Nothing like getting fired up for Game One, only to see mother nature endure her wrath and take away what was rightfully ours – a victory versus an FCS opponent. Only five minutes were played, and in my opinion a huge disadvantage for the Cyclones. Reps were necessary for the newcomers, and it will take at least two to three quarters to knock the rust off against a quality opponent.

The only person Matt Campbell can turn to in this event is – Matt Campbell, as he endured such a weather cancellation in 2015 at Toledo. What did his Rockets do? They went to #18 Arkansas and beat a heavily favored SEC school on their home turf. That my friends is good news.

In the weekly press conference, Campbell exclaimed that it was the leadership that allowed his team to persevere. “I think that the veteran leadership of our football team (Toledo), was able to pull us back together. It’s going to have to be the same response. You can make those excuses, but nobody cares. Now you’ve got to do it against yourselves, and in practice. Hopefully those are the (practice) habits we can help ourselves when we get into the fury here as the season progresses.”

It’s HATE WEEK!

When we last left off….

Iowa State played SDSU for all of five minutes before lightning struck and forced a cancellation for the first time since 1963. Rescheduling this game seems very unlikely, as ISU is looking for an FCS opponent during the October 20 bye week or at the end of the season on Dec 1. My guess is it will be very tough to find one, and puts ISU in a big hole in week two.

For the little bit that we saw, the defense started the game in a 3-3-5 scheme, and the line impressed, especially end Enyi Uwazurike. The offense started off with negative-2 yards in the first two plays, but after an 18-yard hookup with Hakeem Butler the hurry-up attack flourished, ending with a 55-yard touchdown to Deshaunte Jones that sadly, will not count.

Iowa Tidbits

In the great words of Dennis Green, “They are who we thought they were.” And as long as Kirk Ferentz is the coach, that is how it will always be in Iowa Chitty. It all starts with the front lines, as the Hoks live and die with their hog mollies. The offensive line played admirably in week one with the vacation suspension of both starting tackles, while the defensive line absolutely dominated Northern Illinois. Quarterback Nate Stanley looked anything but impressive, as it took awhile for Iowa to put points on the board.

Not sexy, but got the job done.

That is Iowa Football to a T. Helped by a few dropped passes, the first half was worse than watching a junior high girls basketball game. In the second stanza, the defense created short fields for the offense, righting the ship alongside the special teams (namely punter Colten Rastetter), which is the secret sauce to Ferentz’s success. Iowa beat Northern Illinois by a score of 33-7, as it was truly a tale of two halves.

The Series

The CyHawk Series has been quite even recently, as each team has won five of the last 10 years. ISU’s last win was in Kinnick, when Cole “Swoll” Netten nailed a game-winner as time expired in 2014. The Hoks have won three-straight, and hold the outright advantage 43-22.

Iowa State Offense

We didn’t see much from the offense in the first game, especially in the first two plays from scrimmage. Kyle Kempt showed great pocket presence on his third-down strike to Hakeem Butler, and Jones’s touchdown showed all of us that #8 is back.

First Key to Victory – Win the Turnover Battle

That leads me to my first key to victory, as Kempt will have to continue to play error-free ball. Games in this series are won and lost with turnovers, as the margin for error is as small as a Hawkeye fan’s brain fart after a loss. Iowa will gain pressure with their front-four and Kempt will have to dump it off to his security blankets to keep the chains moving. ISU gains a superior advantage in the middle of the field with the lack of experience at linebacker, so look for the tight ends to be involved and #32 in the passing game.

Second Key to Victory – Have Have Have to Get the Running Game Going

Let’s get right to it. This game will be a knock-out, drag-out fight, as both defenses are stout and Iowa State has to gain the upper hand with time of possession. I’ve seen too many times in the past where Iowa wears this game down, and pulls away late. It will be paramount that the offensive line gets some sort of push, and look for Campbell to pull some rabbits out of the hat with our speed. I project the offense will capitalize on the outside edges with Montgomery, and we may even see misdirections involving Deshaunte Jones or Tarique Milton.

The receivers hold an upper hand to Iowa’s defensive secondary and will most likely be facing man coverage. That is a huge advantage to the Cyclones, namely 6-foot-6 Hakeem Butler and 6-foot-4 Matthew Eaton. In last year’s game Butler had a coming out party, and if ISU can match up their speedy receivers on a safety or linebacker, watch out.

Iowa Defense

The Hawkeyes play good old fashioned fundamental defense. They run a standard 4-3 base, and rarely sway towards a nickel package (not once did they against NIU). What makes their engine run is the men up front, and boy do they have some good ones. Senior Matt Nelson forced tremendous vertical penetration in week one, and end Parker Hesse had a heyday. On the other side is heralded recruit A.J. Epenesa, who had multiple quarterback hits, a sack, and forced fumble.

The linebackers are the wild card, as they are all young. For the first time in 20 years, Iowa had to replace all starters from a year ago (namely All-American Josey Jewell). Kristian Welch stood out amongst the crowd, corralling 11 tackles in week one. Iowa’s most important spot is in the middle, and there is a fight for playing time, as Jack Hockaday replaces week one starter Amani Jones in the lineup.

The secondary had the most interceptions in the nation last year, but that bar was set high by Josh Jackson, who left for the draft. Replacing that void are sophomore Matt Hankins and junior Michael Ojemudia. Lost in the offseason (but not by eligibility) were corners Manny Rugamba and safety Brandon Snyder, both talents who would have had huge roles in the secondary.

The safeties are suspect and can be picked on at times, but Amani Hooker is the best of the bunch, as he has more playing experience, and really came into his own in the latter half of 2017.

The Verdict – EVEN

We say this every year, but Iowa State can really exploit the lack of speed and talent in the second line of defense. The playmakers in cardinal and gold far outweigh the opposition, but it all comes down to how well Iowa State’s front can contain Iowa’s pressure. I don’t care how much talent you have on the outside, it all starts in the trenches, and Iowa is as good as they come.

David Montgomery is the true X-factor in this matchup, as he can make anybody miss, and will yet again be called on for his heroics. If we get a game from the DM Train like last year, ISU will be in good hands.

Iowa State Defense

In the SDSU game, we saw a version of the 3-man front, displaying five defensive backs and more speed on the field. I foresee ISU playing with four men on the line to slow down Iowa’s rushing attack. We will see more a rotation, as the Hawks will wear us down. So look for players like Tucker Robertson and Kamilo Tongomoa to spell starters Jamahl Johnson and Ray Lima up the middle. It’s not the middle I’m worried about though.

Third Key to Victory – Contain THE RUN

It’s as simple as meat and potatoes. But against Iowa, that’s all their offensive line eats. They thrive in their potent zone-blocking scheme, and Iowa State will have to maintain their gaps in order to slow down the rushing game. Whether it be 1st-and-10 or 3rd-and-3, you know what’s coming your way.

The defensive ends will make or break this game, and HAVE to hold their own on the outside. I’m looking right at you Jaquan Bailey. #3 has to maintain his position and not get sucked in on his blocks. We saw that inconsistency his first two years, but the junior will be the difference between a 3- or 30-yard rush.

NCAA Football: Iowa at Iowa State
Jaquan Bailey can make or break the D
Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Same goes for the linebackers. I’m not worried about Marcel Spears, Jr. and Willie Harvey, as they will eat it up in the tackle column. If there was anyone that would have gained reputable snaps in week one, it was middle linebacker Mike Rose. Rose demonstrates a tremendous amount of speed at the point of attack, but will need to stay steady with patience (and shed blocks) to defend the zone-run.

Iowa State’s secondary has the biggest advantage on this side of the ball, as both corners Brian Peavy and D’Andre Payne will hold their own. They were exploited at times a year ago (namely Payne), but look for both to right the ship, as Iowa has below-average receivers on the outside.

The safeties will have to keep their head on a swivel, as Iowa loves to run the play-action as much as Brian Ferentz loves whining about recruiting. The Hawks’ tight ends are other-worldly and having safety DeMonte Ruth back will be a plus.

Iowa Offense

The Iowa Hawkeyes potential goes where Quarterback Nathan Stanley takes them. In week one, he looked putrid, completing 11-of-23 passes and throwing for only 108 yards. With all those dropped passes, the Hawkeye offense looked like a decaying corpse in the first half, with only 3 points on the board. Stanley has the talent to make it rain, as he threw for FIVE touchdowns against the Clones last year, and has a BEAST at tight end.

That ROBOCOP-looking stud goes by the name of Noah Fant, who can not be covered. Fant set a school-record in 2017 with 11 touchdowns, but his production waned in the target department, never corralling more than 4 balls in a game. He has been selected as 1st Team All-American by SIX different publications, and continues the legacy of college to pro tight ends from Iowa Chitty.

To be frankly honest, the offensive line is not what it used to be, which was a bevy of All-Americans and a factory to the NFL. The veteran of the group is center Keegan Render, with 21 career starts. Both book end tackles sat out week one due to suspensions, but are above average. While Iowa is sub-standard on the line, they will line up hat for hat and pound the ball down your throat.

The Hoks carry with it a three-headed monster at running back, and are looking for one to jump ahead of the pack. Sophomore Ivory Kelly-Martin made his first start against NIU, and led the team with 16 carries. Toren Young broke away for a 40-yard scamper, and led the team with 84 yards.

This crop of receivers is one of the weakest position groups, and has little experience. Led by Nick Easley, who had a career-high 7 catches versus ISU in ’17, they lack breakaway speed and elusiveness. Get this – Iowa receivers collected all of ONE pass reception in week one. That is alarming, and ISU should take advantage of the disparity in talent.

Verdict – EVEN

If ISU would have played in week one, I’d have given them the nod here, but the lack of reps for Mike Rose and our safeties really put the Clones in the hole. Iowa will run, run, and run some more, and set up the play-action pass. Basically a version of standard Iowa High School Football.

If the Cyclones can handle the zone-blocking scheme and get off the field, that will pay dividends for the latter half of the game. Time of possession is key folks.

Special Teams

Iowa constantly preaches special teams. Ferentz has two specialists that are better than average, and their punter Colten Rastetter boomed three punts for 50+ in week one, including a SIXTY-NINE (nice) yarder that led to this safety. I hope the defense bought him pitchers at SpoCo afterwards.

Senior kicker Miguel Recinos returns and projects as a 3rd Team All-Big 12 performer. He is clutch, evident by making 7-of-8 field goals in the fourth quarter.

The verdict is still out on Iowa State special teams. It appears walk-on Connor Assalley will handle the place-kicking duties, and of course “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi” punter Corey Dunn will continue the dominance of #PunterU.

Iowa led the Big Ten in kick return average a year ago, but that man (Akrum Wadley) is gone. Replacing the void is Ihmir Smith-Marsette. Iowa State carries with it a lethal weapon in return man Kene Nwangwu, but the Hoks are fantastic at kick coverage.

Verdict – Iowa

ISU has too many question marks with their kickers, and Iowa has an above-average unit returning. I give the return game a push, but this game may come down to clutch kicks. Just wish WRNL contributor “Swoll” Netten could suit up for old time sake.

Winning Scale from 1 to 10

Typically this game is toss-up, and evident by the 4.5 spread, Iowa garners a solid home field advantage in Vegas land.

For all you farmers out there, on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being fertile farm ground in Alaska and 10 for Iowa (obviously), I give ISU’s chances of winning in Cooter Ray Cornholer’s Nebraska range. While some parts are desolate, it makes up for it with irrigated crops, and a load of Grade-A Prime Beef.

Final Analysis

The margin for error is small yet again, and these coaches are a true testament to that. It’s like watching a preacher and a rabbi in a bar, waiting to see which one will break down and buy the first drink. I think Iowa State honestly has the better talent here, but it may take a quarter or two to knock off the rust. If the defense can hold its own, and win the time of possession battle we’ve got a shot.

I just think the fact this will be ISU’s first game will give Iowa the advantage it needs to squeak the CyHawk game out.

Final Score

Iowa State 21

Team Out East 24

And for the first time in my life, I know what the devil looks like…

Poll

How Will the CyHawk Game Turn Out?

This poll is closed

  • 43%
    Who needs Game One, ISU has Got This
    (170 votes)
  • 16%
    The Cyclones win in another dramatic FG ending-finish
    (65 votes)
  • 17%
    Its a Toss Up, I just want to see a Good Game
    (68 votes)
  • 22%
    The Cockeyes will keep the Trophy for a 4th yr..
    (90 votes)
393 votes total Vote Now