Where: Athens, Ohio
Time: 11 AM CST
Where We Left Off..
Our Iowa State Cyclones dropped a game at home to the Hawkeyes by a final score of 20-13 in Ames on Saturday afternoon.
Disappointing is how you could best describe this affair, a game that seems eerily similar to the Cyclones home loss to Iowa in 2019. Offensively they appeared disjointed, with several drops and too many runs for negative yards. Defensively, the Cyclones were borderline dominant, but they surrendered a 59-yard run and a 35-yard pass on 3rd and two.
The Cyclones opened the game with a 15-play, 57-yard drive that stalled out and ended in a blocked field goal attempt. Following that drive, it was a 3-out fest comprised of poor rush attempts and 3-yard outs.
Iowa would take a 17-0 lead before halftime on a Sebastian Castro pick-6, though the Cyclones would rebound with a field goal before halftime.
The third quarter melted away without much action, as the defense held Iowa down after a field goal. A late field goal and prolonged drive got the Cyclones within 7 on a Becht pass to Jayden Higgins, but the drive was excruciating to watch and killed a lot of clock.
After getting a stop and the ball back, Cartevious Norton would slip on a 4th and 1, ending the comeback bid.
On the day, Becht finished 23/44 for 203, 1 TD, and 1 INT. The Cyclone running back room ran for 83 yards for an average of 2.8 per attempt, and Higgins led the way with 8 grabs for 95 yards and the lone touchdown.
Iowa State won the TOP battle, out-gained Iowa, and had 19 first downs to their 9, but the pick-6, the blocked field goal, and the too-little-too-late offense doomed them in the end.
The Bobcats are one of the favorites in the MAC after finishing 10-4 a season ago and ultimately falling in the MAC title game. Now to start the 2023 campaign they are 2-1 with a loss at San Diego State week 0. Head coach Tim Albin is in his third season with a 14-14 overall record at the helm of Ohio.
Iowa State Offense
Work needs to be done on the offensive side of the ball and tomorrow provides another opportunity to do that for Iowa State. Boy, do they need it in a big way!
The Cyclones are once again sitting in the 100s in a lot of statistical categories. The Cyclones have the 116th-ranked passing offense, 106th rushing offense, and 111th-scoring offense. Iowa State is averaging 3.8 yards per carry and 5.1 yards per pass. For reference and an unfair one at that but for the sake of comparison. In 2020 Iowa State averaged 5 yards per carry and 7 yards per pass. Quite the difference in success.
Iowa State needs to find a playmaker on this offense that they can go to in times of need. While they are doing that rhythm within this offense needs to be established and one way of doing that is not dropping the ball. Iowa State had 7 drops last week against Iowa, which felt like more considering the type of game Iowa State and Iowa tend to play. If Iowa State is going to find a stride and begin to take that next step offensively, the drops have to go.
While most of the discussion on this Ohio team is geared toward the offense. The defense has been better than advertised. As it stands the Bobcat defense is allowing 13.3 points per game. They have been stingy as hell and it could not have come at a better time for them as the deal with some injuries on the offensive side of the ball.
The area that worries the most going against the Iowa State is the rush defense. Right now the Bobcats are allowing 60 yards per game on the ground and they have given opposing offensive line fits. For an Iowa State offensive line that is struggling to generate some push up front this may not be the best scenario for this group. Then again take it with a grain of salt compared to the level of competition, Ohio has faced.
Bryce Houston is the leader of the defense for Ohio. The senior linebacker has totaled 28 tackles for far this season and is playing all over the field. Over the last two season he has compiled over 7 sacks and will be sent after the quarterback from time to time. With Rocco Becht being a young quarterback, we may be seeing some more generated pressure from the blitz. Something that this Iowa State game plan will have to be prepared for.
Verdict - Toss Up
I am torn on this matchup. While I think Iowa State has the horses and more talent on their offense and can matchup to score some points on Ohio. I just don’t think they have found that stride just yet. This will be the matchup of the game. Iowa State needs to score over 20 and let the defense go to work.
Iowa State Defense
As deeply frustrating as it is to watch the Iowa State offense, the defense is the perfect antidote. Jon Heacock’s group is a well-oiled machine that knows exactly who they are and what they want to do, and they execute that gameplan with tremendous consistency. Maybe the most impressive part of the entire operation is the longevity and durability of that success, which has remained despite the losses of some all-time Cyclone greats like Will McDonald, Mike Rose, Anthony Johnson, Jake Hummel, and others.
This year, TJ Tampa are the talented veteran leaders of the defense, while Jeremiah Cooper and Domonique Orange are breaking out and establishing themselves as the anchors of the future. Cooper’s three interceptions in the first two games of the season have already earned him a Defensive Player of the Week honor, and has been exactly what a defense that’s needed more turnover production is looking for. Orange has been a dominant force at nose tackle that commands a minimum of two blockers.
The Bobcats have their quarterback Kurtis Rourke back after missing some time due to a knee injury against San Diego State. In his return, he passed for 203 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions against the Tom Herman-led FAU Owls. While the stats do not look that impressive, he certainly takes this Ohio offense to another level. Even the Professor has given the Ohio offense high praise.
Jon Heacock says that Ohio will be the "steepest" competition his team has played against this year, citing the Bobcats' scheme and amount of returning starters & veterans on the team.— CycloneFanatic.com (@cyclonefanatic) September 12, 2023
As it is for Rourke, the same goes for the entire Ohio offense. The Bobcats are averaging 195 yards passing per game, they are just over 150 yards on the ground and they are only averaging 19 points per game. To me, it is like seeing blood in the water for this Iowa State offense.
A couple of guys we need to keep our eyes on are running back Sieh Bangura and wide receiver Tyler Walton. Bangura has rushed the ball for 217 yards this season but has yet to find the end zone. He is the one who makes the rushing attack for Ohio go and a running back that can get into the second level and cause problems.
As for Tyler Walton, the lack of consistent quarterback play this season may be hampering his effectiveness. He has 12 receptions on the season for 128 yards and no touchdowns. He is averaging over 10 yards per reception. He will be the one testing the Iowa State secondary beyond the sticks.
Verdict - Iowa State
While I think this offense has the potential to be one of the leaders in the MAC, Iowa State is just that much better defensively. The secondary will test the Ohio receivers that have not found their groove just yet and Rourke appears to be working his way back into form as well. Iowa State defensively needs to feast.
Special Teams - Iowa State
I basing this purely on the fact that Ohio has missed one more field goal than Iowa State. Plus the Cyclones have yet to make a major mistake on special teams and by all accounts appear to have that area cleaned up for now. So what the hell, give me the Cyclones here.
Winning On A Scale of 1 to 10
I give this a 7 which is conveniently the number of drops Iowa State has to be under compared to a week ago.
Iowa State needs to get in rhythm offensively. This is the theme of the game. The defense will be just fine and hold their own but the offense has to work some more kinks out. I don’t believe this Ohio offense will be able to score 20 points on Iowa State so offensively Iowa State needs to hit that mark to feel comfortable in this one.
Final Score Prediction
Iowa State - 24
Ohio - 7