2021 Game I: #9 Iowa State (1-0, 0-0) vs. #10 Iowa (1-0, 1-0 Big Ten)
Date: Saturday, September 11th, 2021
Time: 3:30 P.M. CST
Location: MidAmerican Energy Field at Jack Trice Stadium, Ames, IA
Line: ISU (-4.5)
Radio: Cyclone Radio Network
SB Nation Website - Black Heart Gold Pants
Well, well, well, look what the cat drug into Ames. ESPN swallowed their pride and brought their prized college football pregame show to lowly Ames, Iowa. On Saturday in Ames, Iowa State and TOE will meet once again in the national spotlight. There’s only one safe bet when the Hoks and Cyclones play, and it’s that the game will get weird. This rivalry has lived up to its affectionate internet nickname, “¡El Assico!”, and we don't expect that to be any different on Saturday.
When we last left off....
We certainly didn’t drive home last week from the prettiest of games. Iowa State eeked a 16-10 victory over Northern Iowa and that should tell you everything you need to know.
The defense was spectacular as usual, as Heacock and the boys held the Northern Iowa offense to 0 points in the second half. At this point, we all need to go and buy these boys a surf and turn dinner for their spectacular efforts. I mean it is legal and all now. (Thanks, NIL.)
On the flip side, unfortunately, Tom Manning was asleep behind the playbook. The Cyclones seemingly ran the same plays over and over and showed absolutely no depth. Brock Purdy was efficient and on target all game but didn’t really force the issue or take many shots.
But let’s count our blessings. The e Cyclones came out of the game pretty healthy. O’Rien Vance was banged up late in the third quarter but Matt Campbell expects him back. We should also be seeing the return of All-American Tight End Charlie Kolar this week after tweaking his ankle a few weeks ago.
TOE’s 34-6 rout of Indiana was the Hoks seventh straight victory, with those wins coming by an average of three or more touchdowns. Three of those victories were against Penn State, Wisconsin and the previously ranked Hoosiers.
TOE kind of looks like the team to beat in the Big Ten West. Wisconsin didn’t provide much to look at after last week and Northwestern, the defending Big Ten West Champs, looked lackluster against Michigan State. We aren’t saying it’s a given, but a door may have opened up for TOE.
Iowa leads the all-time series 45-22, with the TOE winning the last five games. Iowa State’s last win was back in 2014 when Cole Netten made a game-winning field goal as time expired.
Iowa State Offense
The Cyclones sustained several drives that ultimately resulted in scoring opportunities, but there was a noticable lack of explosive plays from the offense. Even more shocking, Northern Iowa controlled the line of scrimmage and Iowa State could not impose their will up front. It was a game of leverage and Iowa State lost it this past weekend. It’s been said that the biggest improvements on the offensive line come in-between weeks one and two. Let’s hope, folks.
First Key To Victory - Find The Leverage
Before the Northern Iowa game, we thought Iowa State would have a strong advantage over the TOE defensive line. While they may still have that weight-wise, TOE is going to play with great technique like Northern Iowa did. Simply put, Iowa State will have to out-technique Iowa’s good defensive line by beating TOE off the ball each time and taking back the line of scrimmage.
Hall looked pedestrian. He totaled 69 yards on the ground and one touchdown late in the first half. We learned on Monday night on the coach's radio program that Hall had been banged up a bit in fall camp, but is certainly healthy enough to play. It is imperative that Iowa State gets a good Breece Hall the rest of the season.
Purdy was efficient, but didn’t really stretch the field. Star receiver Xavier Hutchinson led the team with 88 yards and the longest completion on the day at 39 yards. As we mention year in and year out, Iowa State must stretch the field against TOE. If we allow them to sit and pin their ears back, it won’t be Purdy. (See what we did there?_
TOE’s pass defense was on fire against Indiana last week, allowing just 202 passing yards and intercepting Michael Penix Jr. three times. Two of those interceptions were returned for touchdowns by cornerback Riley Moss, and a fourth TOE interception was called back due to a roughing-the-passer penalty. Similar to years past, TOE’s defense was very opportunistic.
TOE’s defensive line is relatively inexperienced compared to last year's group. Daviyon Nixon and Chauncy Gholston are both gone from last year. Zach VanValkenburg is the lone starter from all eight games last year, and Noah Shannon is a key returning contributor. While this group may be inexperienced, two things are certain: there is still talent in the group and they’re well-coached, even if they’re still finding their sea legs.
What may end up being the driving force for this TOE defense is the back seven, led by the cornerbacks Riley Moss, Matt Hankins and Xavior Williams. Riley Moss is the clear star of the group, especially after his play last season and against Indiana. This may ultimately end up being the matchup of the game. How will Iowa State make up for the lack of big plays in the passing game against a stout secondary group for TOE? It will be fun to watch unfold on Saturday.
The Verdict - Even
Iowa State is going to have to show much more on offense than what they did against Northern Iowa. We can assume they will, because if they don’t, it could be a very long day on the Iowa State sideline. On the other hand, the Hoks should see at least some improvement after last week’s disappointing offensive output, even if their ceiling is somewhat limited. For that reason, it’s a push.
Iowa State Defense
The Iowa State defense was stingy as heck once again on Saturday against Northern Iowa. Minus a few missed tackles that led to a long touchdown for Northern Iowa, the Cyclones defense didn’t really allow the Panther attack to move the ball much and Northern Iowa could only garner 45 yards on the ground. Which makes it appear they will be picking up right where they left off.
2nd-half points given up by the Cyclone defense in their last six games (16).— Mike Green (@Beener1435) September 5, 2021
Kansas State- 0
West Virginia- 6
UNI- 0 pic.twitter.com/YOb1mkG70e
Iowa State has been absolutely lights-out in the second half of games as of late, as they’re currently riding a six-game streak of holding opponents to ten or fewer points in the second half (just 16 total points given up in that stretch). More often than not, many games are won in the second half, particularly with the style of game that Iowa State plays. Is this sustainable? It’s somewhat unclear, but we will gladly take that same effort on Saturday afternoon.
Speaking of effort, Iowa State is one of the nation’s best defenses against the run. TOE is one of those teams where, if you allow them freedom on the ground, it puts them in a rhythm that’s tough to stop. In the previous three meetings in the Cy-hawk game, Iowa State has allowed an average of 127 yards rushing per game. In Iowa State’s nine wins last season, on average they held their opponents to 88 yards rushing per game.
Second Key To Victory - Eliminate The Rushing Attack
There may be something to Spencer Petras on the other side of the ball. We just don’t quite know what it is yet. Until we know for sure, Iowa State needs to take away the TOE rushing attack and make the Hoks throw the ball. Iowa State has the personnel to match up defensively with TOE at each position.
Iowa State’s defensive line did a fine job generating a rush and controlling portions of the game against Northern Iowa. The Cyclones moved Enyi Uwazurike all over the line and Will McDonald recorded a sack. We still don’t know what the Cyclones really have outside of those two, but we should get a better idea following their test on Saturday afternoon.
While TOE is phenomenal defensively, questions still remain on offense outside of Tyler Goodson. Those questions fall right on the shoulders of quarterback Spencer Petras. The TOE junior completed 57% of his passes last season for 1,569 yards, nine touchdowns and five interceptions.
On Saturday in the Hoks win over Indiana, Petras was 13 of 27 for 145 yards, with no touchdowns or interceptions. The 48% completion percentage may be a bit misleading due to drops and throwaways, but questions of accuracy continue to linger.
Thankfully for Petras, TOE has a very capable running back in Tyler Goodson. Goodson was coincidentally was in the same recruiting class as Breece Hall. Both running backs were courted by both the Hoks and Iowa State.
The Hok junior ran the ball 19 times for 99 yards, including a 56-yard touchdown. Goodson may very well be the key to the game for TOE. The Hoks don’t quite know what they have in the passing game, especially with some new receivers working their way into the rotation. We fully expect the Hoks to try and establish Goodson early and often and try to gain the upper hand on the Iowa State defense physically. This leads us to the next key to victory...
Third Key To Victory - Create Turnovers
One of the more staggering statistics in this five-game losing streak is TOE has not once turned the ball over. Not one time. Zero. Zilch. How in the name of Gene Chizik does that even happen? This is why Iowa State must did into their little corn-fed hearts and find a way to create a turnover on Saturday. Our advice? We all know Petras is inaccurate, so take advantage.
The Verdict - Iowa State
Both defenses should be very entertaining to watch this weekend. Iowa State’s is covered with veterans from top to bottom, and the scheme allows them to defend a wide variety of offensive attacks. While Iowa’s bread-and-butter running game and tight ends are undeniably effective, the lack of production from receivers and a largely unimpressive quarterback limits their ceiling to a certain extent.
The Cyclones have to stop the run. They can’t afford to miss tackles and allow the TOE backs to create more yardage. Field position will also be key – Heackock and the boys can be the best offense for Iowa State on Saturday.
If anything can make an Iowa State fan as nervous as a TOE graduate’s first day at McDonald’s, it’s special teams. We finally did see the elusive kickoff out of bounds on Saturday. Actually three of them, so small victories. There are still significant jitters for us when it comes to the punting group. We aren’t sold that Iowa State has the right punter out there. We still have flashbacks of all the shanks that Corey Dunn had in Iowa City back in 2018. And while he did have a decent day, there is certainly more to be desired.
As for TOE, they were solid as usual. If we know anything about a Hok team, it’s that special teams are not going to lose them a game, and rarely are mistakes had on that front for them anyway.
The Verdict- TOE
It pains us, but we give the nod to TOE here. Until Iowa State gets consistency from every facet of special teams, the opposing squad will have the upper hand.
Winning Scale from 1 to 10
Saturday is going to be one of the hottest days we have had in a while. So naturally it had to fall on this game. Have no fear, as we will drink plenty of water, or Busch Light. Whatever works.
On a scale of 1 to 10. With 1 being in Antarctica and 10 being on the face of the sun. I give this game a “We’re damn near the sun” chance of winning.
This is going to be an intense matchup.
Incredibly, College GameDay is back in town again! It’s an incredible opportunity for the state of Iowa and Iowa State University to showcase everything they have to offer, from food to spirit, and yes, even the rivalry.
And now back to the game. This has to be it for Iowa State. We know there are more opportunities to play Iowa after this, but with this group of players in the National spotlight, the Cyclones need this one to add to their resume. Of course, we believe the Clones will get it done but it isn’t going to be easy. TOE is going to throw haymakers and we’re excited to see how Iowa State responds.
Let’s get this game going!
Iowa State 24
Hit us up with your predictions in the comment section below!