Iowa mopped the floor with the competition at the Iowa City Duals last weekend, but now the Hawkeyes take their show on the road -- to Ames and the latest installment of the Cy-Hawk series with Iowa State. Can the Cyclones pull off the upset?
#2 Iowa (5-0) vs #17 Iowa State (2-1)
Date: Sunday, November 29, 2015
Time: 2 PM CT
Location: Hilton Coliseum (Ames, IA)
TV/Streaming: Cyclones.TV (no online stream)
Radio: Hawkeye Radio Network (free); Hawkeye All-Access ($)
Did you know there's more than bragging rights on the line when Iowa and Iowa State face off on the wrestling mat? It's true -- much like football, the Hawkeyes and Cyclones contest a traveling trophy in wrestling, the Dan Gable Traveling Trophy.
Gable, of course, had a legendary competitive career as a Cyclone -- and an even more legendary competitive career as a Hawkeye. Calling the trophy a "traveling" trophy is a bit of a misnomer, though -- since its introduction in 2010, it's only ever called one place home, the trophy case in Iowa City. Iowa's won all five duals for the Gable Trophy and done so handily -- the closest dual they've fought was a 22-13 Iowa win in 2010.
Tom Brands has never lost to Iowa State as the Hawkeye head coach -- he's 10-0 lifetime against ISU -- and Iowa's won 11 straight dual meets in all against the Cyclones. ISU's last win in the series came back in 2004, when they clipped Iowa, 19-16. Is there any hope for the series to be less one-sided this year? Let's break things down and see.
125: #2 Thomas Gilman (JR, 5-0) vs. UR Nathan Boston (RS FR, 0-1)
Boston is a good young wrestler who should develop into a solid 125er for Iowa State. Gilman is a returning All-American and legitimate national title contender this year. So, yeah, this is a bit of a mismatch. Boston already wrestled Virginia Tech's Joey Dance, another top contender at 125, and was able to keep that loss to a decision, so it's no guarantee that Gilman will get bonus points here. If this was in CHA, I think I'd favor Gilman to get a major. But since it's in Ames, I think Boston will hold it to a decision.
PREDICTION: Gilman via DEC (IOWA 3-0)
133: #2 Cory Clark (JR, 5-0) vs. #7 Earl Hall (SR, 8-0)
Hall is Iowa State's best wrestler and an All-America contender. Clark is a returning NCAA runner-up and legitimate national title contender. He also has an undefeated lifetime record against Hall. So, again, not a great matchup for Iowa State. I think Hall keeps it to a decision, but that's about as good as it gets for him.
PREDICTION: Clark via DEC (IOWA 6-0)
141: UR Logan Ryan (RS FR, 5-3) vs. UR Dante Rodriguez (SO, 6-1)
There's no guarantee that Ryan gets the nod for Iowa here (Topher Carton or Jake Kadel would seem to be other options), but he's been the preferred option in Iowa's duals thus far, so until further notice I'm pegging him as the starter for now. Rodriguez has a nice record, but no wins of note. Still, Ryan hasn't shown enough offense in the matches that matter (Oklahoma State, Maryland) to make me feel comfortable picking him.
PREDICTION: Rodriguez via DEC (IOWA 6-3)
149: #3 Brandon Sorenson (SO, 5-0) vs. #15 Gabe Moreno (JR, 1-0)
Moreno's lone win this year came over a solid opponent (#18 Geordan Martinez) and he lost a nail-biter (7-6 decision) to Sorenson last year, so this could be a close match. But Sorenson is good in every position and has picked up this fall where he left off last March, when he placed 4th at the NCAA Tournament.
PREDICTION: Sorenson via DEC (IOWA 9-3)
157: UR Edwin Cooper (SR, 2-2) or UR Skyler St. John (RS FR, 1-0) vs. UR Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer (RS FR, 10-3) or UR Logan Breitenbach (RS FR, 5-3)
Uncertainty abounds! Iowa has no set starter at this weight, although Cooper has more experience and has wrestled in four of Iowa's five dual meets so far. Iowa State has about as much uncertainty as Iowa at this weight, as either Rodriguez-Spencer or Breitenbach are likely starters here. As far as a winner goes, this is a toss-up match. Flip of the coin says Cooper gets the job done for Iowa.
PREDICTION: Cooper via DEC (IOWA 12-3)
165: UR Patrick Rhoads (SR, 2-1) or UR Burke Paddock (RS FR, 6-3) vs. #11 Tanner Weatherman (SR, 6-2)
Another match of uncertainty for Iowa; this middleweights could be quite a magical mystery tour for Iowa this season. Rhoads looked better last week when he finally got to wrestle someone other than pound-for-pound king Alex Dieringer. Weatherman figures to be a nice measuring stick for Rhoads -- is he good enough to compete with Weatherman and contend for a spot in the #10-15 range in the national rankings at a weight that's not particularly deep? I'm hopeful for Rhoads, but I need to see him win a match like this before I start expecting it.
PREDICTION: Weatherman via DEC (IOWA 12-6)
174: #4 Alex Meyer (JR, 4-1) vs. #13 Lelund Weatherspoon (JR, 8-1)
Weatherspoon wrestled at 184 last season, but he's dropped down a weight to 174 this year. His lone loss was against Virginia Tech's Zach Epperly, a top-5 wrestler at 174. That said, he hasn't picked up any wins of significance, either. Meyer could (and should) defeat him -- but if he continues his worrying recent trend of giving up early points and digging himself a hole, this match could be a problem. I'm going to trust that Meyer has sorted out that problem.
PREDICTION: Meyer via DEC (IOWA 15-6)
184: #12 Sammy Brooks (JR, 5-0) vs. UR Dane Pestano (SO, 8-2)
Now here's a weight where Iowa has an enormous advantage. Brooks has been steamrolling everyone in his path and now he should get an unranked and unheralded foe. Hope you're ready for a ride on the Tilt-a-Whirl, Mr. Pestano. Brooks wins and gets bonus points.
PREDICTION: Brooks via MAJ DEC (IOWA 19-6)
197: #4 Nathan Burak (SR, 5-0) vs. UN David Egli (FR, 1-0)
A year ago, Iowa State had the eventual national champion at this weight, Kyven Gadson. Now they have a hugely untested true freshman. Their situation looks just a little bit different now. In fairness, they were expecting to have a better option here, touted recruit turned redshirt freshman Marcus Harrington, but he's suspended after incurring assault charges earlier this year. In any event, this should be an easy win for Burak and bonus points seem like a real possibility.
PREDICTION: Burak via MAJ DEC (IOWA 23-6)
285: UR Sam Stoll (RS FR, 4-1) vs. UR Quean Smith (JR, 9-1) or UR Tyler Swope (SR, 0-1)
Finally, the big boys. Stoll rebounded from his season-opening loss to Oklahoma State's Austin Marsden with three first-period pins in four matches (he received a forfeit in the fourth match). Smith has plenty of size and experience on his side, but his results have been pretty so-so over the course of his career. Stoll showed some nice offensive skills last weekend, so I'm eager to see what he can do against a better opponent.
PREDICTION: Stoll via DEC (IOWA 26-6)
On paper, this looks like another lopsided Iowa win in the series. The problem for Iowa State is that while they have some good wrestlers, they don't have any great wrestlers -- there's no one on their roster that you would point to as a sure-thing win -- and, worse, their good wrestlers are mostly matched up against some of Iowa's best wrestlers. The path to an Iowa State win involves them winning all of the toss-up matches in the dual and pulling a few upsets beyond that. It's conceivable that could happen... but it doesn't feel likely.
Regrettably, unless you have Mediacom and can watch Cyclones.TV, you won't be able to watch this dual meet tomorrow. We'll have a live thread up for folks to follow the action in, though.