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2019 Game II: Iowa State vs. University of Iowa Football Preview

College GameDay is Coming To OUR CITY!

Get Ready to Grab Cy LEE!

2019 Game II: Iowa State (1-0, 0-0) vs. ##19 University of Iowa (2-0, 1-0 Big Ten)

Date: Saturday, September 14, 2019

Time: 3:00 P.M. CST

Location: MidAmerican Energy Field at Jack Trice Stadium, Ames, IA

Capacity: 61,500

Line: Iowa -2.5

Television: FS1

Radio: Cyclone Radio Network

Game Notes/Release

Iowa Game Notes

SB Nation Website - Black Heart Gold Pants

The gods have spoken. Out from the shadows emerges an atmosphere unlike any other – ESPN College Gameday in AMES, IOWA!

Its finally here. I wrote a short synopsis in July proclaiming the reasons why ESPN should make their way to Ames for the celebration, and amongst them all – the most important is the CyHawk rivalry game.

Families have feuded, bets have been lost, and grown ass men have drank more alcohol after losses than they care to remember. But that’s what makes this game so special – Iowa doesn’t have any professional teams, so the CyHawk football game is without a doubt the biggest event in the state outside of the Iowa State Fair

In my 32 years of age, I couldn’t be happier for not only the state, the city of Ames, nor the University, but the FANS! To get to where we are in 2019 – building a national brand, with a loyal coach and legitimate roster, it is simply something we have never seen. Enjoy yourselves – this will be one day to remember!

Now that I’ve gotten off my soapbo, here is your preview for the annual CyHawk game – Iowa State versus the “Team Out East.”

When we last left off….

Remember when you played in the backyard against your little brother, who was a bit smaller and a LOT dumber? Deep down inside you knew you had to hold back (because well, he was your brother), and you couldn’t spend the whole time shoving his face in the dirt.

That’s how I felt with ISU against UNI. Not only were the Panthers pesky, scrappy and solid fundamentally, but ISU never put their foot down and got the tap out.

Campbell was eating vanilla ice cream on the sidelines. No fudge, no Oreos, no chocolate sauce. And he didn’t care what anybody thought.

With that being said, the Clones were lucky to come away as victors. It was almost as if both teams didn’t play to win – but NOT TO LOSE. Purdy looked calm in the pocket, Deshaunte Jones took advantage of open spots, and the offensive line produced some decent sized holes for our running backs.

The defense dominated. Even non-football fans (like grandma) could tell they were bigger, faster, and stronger. What bothered me most was the fact that Campbell got too cute. You get 4th-and-short not once but TWICE in opponent’s territory – and neither time convert? That won’t happen on Saturday.

While ISU won 29-26, they did lose one of their key cogs on offense – center Colin Newell, who is questionable to play. Against a stout defensive line like Iowa’s, the center is your heartbeat, and you lose him – the whole body shuts down. I’m sure Tom Manning and company have gameplanned accordingly, but that almost worries me worse than having to take a prairie fire shot every time going to Tip Top.

Iowa Tidbits

The Hoks come in with big expectations, and rightly so, as the Big Ten West (formerly known as Legends or Leaders, I don’t know, whatever it was called was awful) is ripe for the taking this year.

Senior and three-year starting quarterback Nate Stanley has all the physical tools to compete at the next level, but his mental toughness is a question mark. As you can imagine, the offensive line is strong, yet left tackle Alaric Jackson is out multiple weeks with a knee injury. That is critical, as Jackson was a potential 1st round NFL talent AND an anchor for Stanley’s backside.

The defense has been dominant, but haven’t really played any body to gauge how good they can be. They will be in for a fight, as Iowa State’s roster talent is head and shoulders above both Rutgers (garbage) and Miami of Ohio. Iowa is 2-0, ranked #19 in the country, and is exactly who we thought they were – OR have been for the last 40 years.

That is smash mouth football, ball control offense, and win with defense and special teams. This recipe for success has worked for coach Kirk Ferentz (in his 21st year) and will continue to allow them to compete against just about anyone (just not Stanford and Christian McCaffrey).

Iowa State just needs to make sure they don’t try and beat Iowa at their own game.

The Series

Iowa leads the all-time series 44-22, with the Hoks winning the last four contests. ISU’s last win was in Kinnick in 2014 when Cole Netten made a game winning field goal as time expired.

Iowa State Offense

I thought Brock Purdy played well in his last game. He was an efficient 30-for-41, but never took any shots downfield. I re-watched the game and could only see two such occurrences where we kept that defense honest. With that being said, I see the Cyclone offense making strides, not only in their play-calling, but also in making big explosive plays.

What bothered me most was the quarterback read. Brock handed the ball off every single time, and never utilized his skills in the running game. Not to say that those windows are going to be open against Iowa, but Tom Manning needs to at least establish #15 as a threat to keep the defense on their toes.

First Key to Victory – Run the Ball Effectively

Notice I didn’t say “down their throat” or “successfully”, just effectively. Now that could mean a multitude of things – most namely converting on 3rd- and 4th-and shorts, creating positive yardage on early downs, and most importantly, opening up the play-action pass. The most impactful unit on Saturday is the offensive line.

I see a big day out of ISU’s tight ends, as they are a matchup nightmare for Iowa’s linebackers and safeties. I also expect the Clones to play in more “bunch” formations carrying an extra blocker to help chip the ends, and create space for our running backs. There are fewer things in life that Matt Campbell enjoys more than his tight ends – and I expect a big day out of #88 Charlie Kolar.

The wide receiving corps is a bit of an unknown. Deshaunte Jones was targeted on multiple occasions and utilized his ability to get open horizontally against UNI. I don’t expect that to be the case on Saturday. Someone like Tarique Milton is a mismatch for the opposition, with his breakaway speed and ability to stretch the field. But most importantly, as this game will be a knock-down, drag-out fight, I expect the bigger and stronger players like Joe Scates, La’Michael Pettway (and the tight ends) to be the difference makers. Their ability to use their big bodies will bode well for short possession-type throws, and red zone targets.

The running back stable is full. I don’t know who will be the thoroughbred to pull away, but something makes me think Manning and company are licking their chops at getting Kene Nwangwu the ball in space. If ISU can hold their blocks, #3 can take care of the rest with his blazing speed.

Iowa Defense

This has been, and always will be the greatest strength of Iowa Football. It all starts up front with the defensive line, and Preseason All-American A.J. Epenesa. After leading the Big Ten in sacks a year ago, the junior is on literally every watch list and All-America team. The 6-foot-6 beast will no doubt get HIS on Saturday, but it will be important to not focus too much on #94. My only worry is – who will be the starting left tackle? If Julian Good-Jones moves to center, Iowa State will be in trouble.

The rest of the defensive line is no slouch, as the Hoks carry two seniors in the middle, and Chauncey Golson on the other side. Iowa has always been known for above-average linebacker play, and recently added a wrinkle to their system. While typically running a 4-3 base NO MATTER WHAT, defensive coordinator Phil Parker has recognized the need for more speed and multiplicity on the field, and has switched to a 4-2-5 look.

That brings us to the “CASH” position, or a sort of hybrid safety/linebacker spot. Iowa has two different athletes to fill the void of All-American Amani Hooker from last year in D.J. Johnson and Barrington Wade. Both are unproven commodities, but are helped by the veteran leadership of true linebackers Nick Niemann and Kristian Welch (leading tackler).

While the secondary has allowed a league 2nd-best passing defense, they will have their hands full on Saturday. Senior cornerback Michael Ojemudia is the leader of the pack, already nabbing two picks in his first two games, and strong safety Geno Stone can pack a punch.

The Verdict – Iowa

The clear favorite here is the Hawkeye defense, just based on their defensive line’s ability to overmatch ISU’s offensive line. The Cyclones will need to sustain long drives keeping the defense off the field, and gain solid yards on early downs – paving the way for manageable opportunities on 3rd down.

And Campbell better put his chips in - going for it on those 4th and shorts…

Iowa State Defense

Not that I was surprised, but I was uber impressed with the output the Cyclone defense portrayed against UNI. They held the Panthers to less than 2 yards per carry, had tremendous penetration at the point of attack, and the linebackers shined.

None were better than O’Rien Vance. The standout sophomore had previously been shelved away as a backup, but clearly is too good NOT be on the field. His closing speed in the pocket was other-worldly, and he and the rest of the crew (Rose and Spears) will get plenty of opportunities to rack it up in the tackle column. Look for more of a base set on early downs, containing the stretch-zone run so our second line doesn’t get out of position.

I expect multiple sets on passing downs, namely defensive tackle Jamahl Johnson and Will McDonald in to rush the quarterback. But don’t be surprised to see some exotic blitzes – you never know what is up Mad Scientist Jon Heacock’s sleeves.

Second Key to Victory – FORCE TURNOVERS

This game will be won or lost in the turnover column. I can about guaran-DAMN-tee you that. Unfortunately, in the UNI game this defense didn’t force any, and it will be absolutely paramount that Iowa State do so if they want to come away victorious.

Having safety Braxton Lewis back from injury will help that cause, as he should supplant Justin Bickham in the starting lineup (who struggled in week one). Greg Eisworth at STAR will be all over the field, and most importantly be responsible for the tight end. Iowa is not as good as they once were in that department, but they love the play-action pass more than Donald Trump loves to TWEET.

I expect the defensive line to hold their own, but don’t project much pressure from the outside edge. Bailey and Uwazurike need to hold their blocks and contain that zone-read. I feel confident they are up to the task.

Iowa Offense

For the first time in a long time Iowa has some playmakers at receiver. Ihmir Smith-Marsette has shined in the first two weeks, matching his career-highs in back-to-back games in catches, and a new mark set with 113 yards last week. He is a true deep-threat, while Brandon Smith has some speed of his own.

Through the first few games, Nate Stanley’s stat line has been nearly perfect, throwing for 488 yards, with 6 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. Not the most mobile quarterback, Stanley has the arm strength to make just about every throw, and if ISU can slow the run game, look for the senior to struggle at dinking and dunking, as he loves to throw it deep.

Iowa State will play their standard 3-3-5 scheme, which allows for passes to be made to the boundary and underneath, so look for the running backs to get plenty of touches. Starter Mekhi Sargent is second on the team in receptions, and has pulled away from the pack as the clear RB1.

A year ago it was musical chairs with the ball carriers, but Sargent surged towards the end of the season, most notably in a 173-yard effort versus Nebraska. Through two games, he leads all ball-carriers with 150 yards, and behind him is Toren Young as a nice change of pace runner.

After losing two first-round Tight Ends to the draft, the Hoks do not have a gamebreaker at that spot. Shaun Beyer is the next man up, and had 3 grabs in week one. The offensive line is again solid, even with the injury to Jackson. That moved Tristan Wirfs over to Stanley’s blind side, and brought in walk-on Kyler Scott at guard. Redshirt freshman center Tyler Linderbaum will be a dandy down the road, but I feel sorry for his matchup against the Polynesian BEAST Ray Lima.

Verdict – ISU

I got to admit, I’m not sure which defense is better. I think ISU’s is more malleable and able to configure to all offenses, but Iowa’s is tailor-made to fit the Big 10. Ya gotta give the nod to the Cyclones here.

Stopping the run in any game against Iowa is key, but the younger corners will also need to step it up, as they will be picked on. Field position will be key – this defense can be the best offense for ISU.

Special Teams

Iowa preaches special teams like the Jehovah’s witnesses preach the gospel.

Kicker Keith Duncan returns for duties after redshirting in 2017, and not playing in 2018, but was “the guy” in 2016, making that legendary game-winner against Michigan. He is perfect thus far on the year, and has the leg to make 50+.

Third Key to Victory – Flawless on Special Teams

ISU’s Connor Assalley came out of the gate with an uncharacteristic 31-yard miss in week one. But he did bounce back to make two kicks after. He will definitely be called upon for pressure kicks on Saturday and will have to come through. Not only that, but ISU needs to be perfect in the special teams department. That means no kickoffs out of bounds (Peyton Paddock I’m looking at you), and solid return defense.

Iowa has a lethal weapon in kick return man in Ihmir Smith-Marsette, as he was 4th in the country with a 29.5 average in 2018. Not far behind him – ISU’s Kene Nwangwu. Look for the speedster to shake off his injury from UNI and be a force in flipping field position.

The punters are decent, as ISU’s Joe Rivera is solid so far (but all we’ve seen are pooch punts), and Arizona State transplant Michael Sleep-Dixon has a strong leg.

Verdict – Iowa

Got to give the nod to the Hoks here, as they are top notch in all specialty categories, but also have two newcomers in the kicking and punting department.

Winning Scale from 1 to 10

Today we take a walk down memory lane. Iowa State Football has been mediocre at best over its tenure, and with College GameDay coming to town – one of these names could be the Guest Picker.

On a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being one of ISU’s worst head coaches (Gene Chizik) to a 10 (well, Matt Campbell of course), I give Iowa State a Dan McCarney shot at winning this game.

Final Analysis

This one is tough. On paper it’s as close as a beauty contest between twins.

But guess what – this game won’t be so beautiful. It will be defense, special teams, and a field position battle. Both offenses have some weapons, but the defense far outweighs the offense on both sides.

In years past, after an ISU meltdown in week one and Iowa on their way to an undefeated season (or so every fan seems to think so), these are the games the Cyclones steal away. I’ve got a funny feeling about Saturday – the lights will be brighter, and having that extra bye week to prepare will be just enough for Campbell to beat Iowa for the first time in his LONG Iowa State career.

Final Score

Iowa State 20

Iowa 17

Hit us up with your predictions in the comment section below!