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Iowa State Football Preview: BYU

Late night in Provo

Kansas v Iowa State Photo by David K Purdy/Getty Images

Last Time Out..

Mistakes and missed opportunity cost the Cyclones on Saturday, as Iowa State dropped a close one at home to Kansas by a final score of 28-21.

The game didn’t feel right from the jump, as Kansa quickly marched down the field to take a 7-0 lead, thanks mostly to the arm of Jason Bean. A missed goal would give the Cyclone life, but a Rocco Becht pick-6 would put Kansas up 14-0.

After swapping punts, Kansas would miss another field goal, setting Iowa State up to get 3 points before halftime. Bizarre calls, a bad whistle, and lots of replays made for an ugly half.

The second-half action provided little relief. Penalties helped Kansas to a 21-3 lead before Iowa State showed some life. A long scoring drive capped by an Eli Sanders touchdown was quickly followed by another Norton touchdown run, making it a 21-18 game.

Kansas scored a touchdown on an 80-yard pass to put the game away, and Liepold made ballsy calls late to pass on two consecutive fourth downs to ice it.

BYU Tidbits

In their first season in the Big 12, BYU sits at 5-4 and 2-4 in the conference. Currently on a two-game losing streak in blowout losses to Texas and West Virginia. Head Coach Kalani Sitake is in his 8th season as the BYU head coach. He has a 61-38 overall record during his time there but with the conference record sitting at 2-4, he has some fans grumbling for more.

Iowa State Offense

The Cyclone offense was pretty stagnant in the first half against Kansas and it allowed the Jayhawks really to take control of the game early on. Iowa State would finally get aggressive in the second half but it was too late. The Cyclones can not afford to be waiting for big plays to happen against BYU in a hostile environment. This is a game where Nate Scheelhase will have to be aggressive from the jump and take the BYU crowd right out of it.

Rocco Becht was solid against Kansas completing 20 of his 26 passes. While his one major mistake was one of the reasons Kansas grabbed control, he is going to have to stop staring down receivers. This is the second time he has been burnt for a pick-six this season. Postseason play is on the line for the young quarterback and mistakes are going to have to be limited.

BYU Defense

The BYU Defense has been struggling to adjust to the new life in the Big 12. Giving up nearly 30 points a game which ranks 79th in the country. What has been the issue is they just aren’t that great at stopping the run and they allow teams to pass the ball on them as well. Giving up over 186 yards per game on the ground sits them at 115th in the country and it is coming on 5 yards per rush. Once again this Cyclone offense will have an opportunity to run the ball on an opponent.

While they have struggled a bit the defense is manned by two stud linebackers. Max Tooley and AJ Vongphachanh, both have combined for 123 total tackles this season. The Cyclones have struggled at times neutralizing linebackers in the run game and this game will be no different. The offensive line will need to be playing hard in the second level to help take over this game.

Verdict- Iowa State

I am looking for a bounce-back game from Iowa State offensively. While they are not the high-flying offense that others seem to have, the efficiency and mistakes hopefully are better from a week ago and Iowa State will not wait until the second half to be aggressive offensively.

Iowa State Defense

It remains to be seen whether Jeremiah Cooper will play for Iowa State in this one. It sounds a lot more promising than last week but hard telling from a guy coming back from the dead. That said, Iowa State needs his services this week. This is a BYU team that is making a change at quarterback to a gunslinger and BYU passes more than they run. It will once again be a test for the Iowa State secondary.

It’s the same formula for Iowa State as always. Control the line scrimmage, find ways to generate pressure, and don’t allow the big plays. Easier said than done.

BYU Offense

Kedon Slovis is down with an injury, well what rather seems like an injury. The Cougars will turn to top junior college prospect Jake Retzlaff. The newcomer went 24-of-42 for 210 yards and no turnovers in a big loss to West Virginia. BYU throws the ball around a ton partly because they can’t run the ball effectively. Which makes it a huge task for the Iowa State secondary as we mentioned before. The altitude and the use of depth worries me a bit here.

BYU runs the ball at 3 yards a carry which sits at 120th in the country. If Iowa State can keep them right around that mark it certainly will help their cause. What has been one of the reasons for the poor rushing attack is the unstable offensive line. The Cougars have gone through numerous offensive line starters and are down some ups for this game. Something to monitor against an Iowa State defensive line having issues getting in the backfield.

Verdict- Toss Up

On paper, Iowa State controls this matchup but the altitude and the unknown of what they are dealing with the opposing quarterback is raising some questions for me. If Iowa State can pressure Retzlaff and make him uncomfortable early on they will have a ton of success in this one.

Special Teams

Special Teams made some big plays this past week in the return game and the field goal unit continues to be solid for Iowa State. On the road in a hostile environment, it will have to continue to be the same.

Winning Scale 1 to 10…

This game is full of unknowns just like where you can buy some beer in Provo. No one has any idea and they are just hoping for the best.

Final Analysis

I’ve been saying this for weeks this game scares me more based on the altitude and the environment. BYU has only lost 5 night games at home in 25 years and there is a reason for that. Obviously, the level of competition has gone up in their schedule but they are 2-0 against Big 12 teams at night this season. Iowa State will need to put pressure on Jake Retzlaff and not allow the secondary to have a tough night like they did against Kansas. If they do that, it’s survive and get a win. A ton to play for in this one.

Final Score Prediction

Iowa State - 24

BYU- 17