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Iowa Football Opponent Preview: Iowa State Cyclones

So, we meet again...

NCAA Football: Iowa at Iowa State Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

With one weekend of college football officially in the books, it’s time we turn our attention to the Iowa State Cyclones.

Almost every year the Cy-Hawk football rivalry seems to give the fans at least some sort of intrigue, despite the fact that the Hawkeyes are seemingly the favorites to take home the trophy every time. That is once again the case this season, as the Hawks are considered slight favorites over our friends out in Ames. However, this Cyclones team is one of the more talented ones we’ve seen in quite some time.

So, without further ado, let’s take a look at what the Cyclones have to offer the Hawkeyes on both sides of the ball in this year’s matchup.

An Electrifying Passing Game (Seriously…)

On offense, the Cyclones now feature a new and very much improved passing game led by junior quarterback Jacob Park.

Coming in at 6’4”, 210-pounds, Park certainly has impressive size and when you watch him on the field, it’s hard not to come away very impressed with what you see. The thing that immediately stands out about Park’s game is his ability to throw with velocity. However, after every single game I watched, I became more and more impressed with his ability to throw with accuracy, placement, and touch as well; Park may be the most talented Cyclones quarterback we’ve seen in quite some time.

In addition to Park, the Cyclones also sport a loaded receiving corps with the headliner being — of course — Allen Lazard.

Coming in at 6’5”, 222-pounds with a rocked up frame and plus athleticism, Lazard is not a common sight in the realm of college football, and when you turn on his tape you can’t help but be amazed by some of the things he’s able to do on a football field; Lazard is a legitimate first-round NFL talent. If one thing’s for sure, Josh Jackson and Manny Rugamba will have their hands full with Lazard on Saturday; and in his final game against the Hawks, I expect him to go out there and produce.

With all that said, Lazard and Park aren’t the only talented players in this passing game, as Hakeem Butler and Trever Ryen are also both very skilled.

With Butler, you’re looking at a guy who stands 6’6”, 219-pounds and has plus athleticism and quickness to go with it. Butler is still relatively raw but he’s a big play waiting to happen. Same goes for Ryen and he’s been a guy that the Cyclones have relied on for quite some time now on underneath timing patterns and simply going out and making plays.

This new and improved Cyclones passing attack should not be taken lightly because when you have that many playmakers on one offense, guess what … they typically end up making plays.

Talented Veterans On Defense

On defense, the Cyclones have returned a lot of their veteran talent from last season in the likes of safety Kamari Cotton-Moya, linebacker Willie Harvey, and cornerback Brian Peavy. However, on the defensive line with the losses of defensive tackle Demond Tucker and pass rusher Jhaustin Thomas.

With that said, the Cyclones defense actually has quite a bit in common with the offense in the fact that they have more than one guy who can step up and make a play at any given moment. That playmaking ability was put on display in last week’s decisive victory over Northern Iowa.

The Cyclones’ defense isn’t anything the Hawks haven’t seen before. However, last week in the Hawks’ victory over Wyoming, Nathan Stanley at times played a little reckless and it ended up costing him on occasion.

This is a defense that you just can’t make errors against because they have the talent to make you pay. It’ll be interesting to see how Stanley fares in his second career start against a defense with a fair amount of talented playmakers.

Expectations For This Saturday

If you’ve been a football fan for awhile you know things can get a little wacky when it comes to rivalry games and that’s certainly been the case at times in the Cy-Hawk rivalry game over the years.

On paper, the Hawks you should take home the Cy-Hawk trophy fairly easily, as they’re superior in the trenches, in the secondary, at the second level, and in the running game. However, the Cyclones possess enough playmaking talent to keep it tight if the Hawks make mistakes.

With so many players who possess the potential of making a big play on both offense and defense, you have to figure that at some point on Saturday that the Cyclones will be able to capitalize to some degree.

With that said, unless the Cyclones rushing attack can somehow find a way to get going against a stout Iowa front seven and the defense can force multiple turnovers, I have a hard time seeing this game stick tight all four quarters. However, this is certainly an improved Cyclones team and as I mentioned earlier, sometimes these rivalry games can get a little wacky.