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Iowa Football: Five Questions on the Iowa State Cyclones

We take an in depth look at the Cyclones from the perspective of an Iowa State fan.

Iowa State v Iowa
Can Matt Campbell finally get a win over the Hawkeyes?
Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images

The #10 Iowa Hawkeyes and #9 Iowa State Cyclones are on a collision course this weekend in what will be an historic meeting between the two programs. Despite being the 68th matchup overall in the Cy-Hawk series, Saturday’s game will feature a pair of top-10 teams for the first time ever in what will be just the second meeting where Iowa State enters the game ranked in the AP top-25.

Adding to the intrigue of the matchup, ESPN’s College Game Day will make the trip for Ames for the second consecutive time in the series after last year’s matchup in Iowa City was cancelled due to COVID-19.

As we prepare for this top-10 showdown, we’re getting the inside scoop on what to expect from the Cyclones from Matthias Schwartzkopf of Wide Right Natty Light. Here are our five questions with Mathias.

BHGP: It’s now been two years since Iowa and Iowa State have faced off, but a number of the key players remain the same for the Cyclones. Brock Purdy is still manning the ship and Breece Hall is still running the rock. Who else should Iowa fans know about as they look to get reacquainted with ISU?

WRNL: Charlie Kolar has grown up a bit since then. Could have probably left after that 2019 season. Heck could have even left after last season and got paid pretty well by some NFL team. He’s just that prototypical matchup nightmare tight end. Which you all know something about. Just nice to finally have one on our side after what seems like forever searching for one. So there is him.

Then new to the Cyclones last year was Xavier Hutchinson, big bodied wide receiver that doesn’t really possess that top end speed to get around you but if you get caught napping you may see him go right by. He is another guy that can go and high point the football and make any type of catch out there. We should be seeing him on sunday’s as well.

BHGP: The Cyclones boasted a potent offense in 2020, averaging nearly 33 points per game (35th nationally), but struggled to get much going on week one against UNI. What was different against the Panthers from a season ago and how should the Hawkeyes approach attempting to slow down this Iowa State offense?

WRNL: Iowa should approach it the same way UNI did. If you really scratch into it, there is nothing really too different about the scheme Mark Farley runs in Cedar Falls compared to what you guys run. Great defensive line play with solid back seven play. Keep everything in front of you and be opportunistic when necessary. It really just comes down to playing solid and getting big plays defensively when needed. Now this Iowa State offense is obviously different from some of the one dimensional offense’s the Cyclones have had in years past in the Cy-hawk games.The Cyclones can win in the air and on the ground. At some point you may just have to pick your poison and stop one and then be opportunistic with the other. The unfortunate thing and frustrating thing from a fans stand point, Matt Campbell likes to play with fire in that first game and never really shows his hand and as we have seen in the entire Matt Campbell era. That causes him either to get bit or close to being bit.

BHGP: On the other side of the ball, Iowa didn’t show a ton from their offense in week one after being spotted 14 points by the defense. Facing what is expected to be one of the top defenses in the Big 12, what can the Hawkeyes expect to see in week 2 and how should the attack the Cyclone defense?

WRNL: I really think it’s going to be more of the same with what the Cyclones have done under Heacock. Stop the run and force you to win through the air. This Cyclone defense may not have the firepower on the defensive line just yet to get pass rush consistently but they will do enough to stop the run at a high level. Jon Heacock has done a masterful job at feasting off inexperience at quarterback, now I know Petras is in his second season starting but this is his first true road game and I think we are all curious as to what that may look like.

BHGP: The last time these two teams met each other, it was under similar circumstances with ESPN’s College Game Day in Ames for the first time ever. That game was decided in part by special teams play. Who are the key players Iowa fans should know about on special teams and do you see that phase as playing a significant role on Saturday?

WRNL: First of all, how dare you bring up special teams. I am appalled. I also don’t know what you are talking about, how the game was decided by special teams? I blacked out. As for our special teams players, nothing really that cool to be honest. I mean we now have a kicker in Andrew Mevis that can kick it out of the end zone consistently. So that is cool. We haven’t been able to do that in forever. He also kicks long range field goals.

Connor Assalley or Butt Boulevard is still on the team. He would be our short range kicker.

Corey Dunn who punted for the Cyclones in 2018 in the Iowa City slobber knocker is now back and punting full time. Spoiler alert, he still really hasn’t improved since that game. So that could be something to be on the lookout if this game is a punt fest.

Otherwise, screw special teams.

BHGP: OK, prediction time. The Cyclones opened up earlier this summer as full touchdown favorites in this one. However, after week one the line appears to have come down to ISU -3.5 at most books with and over/under inside of 43 points. How do you see this one playing out and what’s your final score prediction?

Well if history has shown us anything, both of these teams will look drastically different in week 2 and in this game. So I expect that again. Especially for Iowa State offensively. I also don’t expect Petras to be at 48% completed passes either. I really think this is just going to be a good midwestern bar fight in Ames. Physical battle in the trenches and probably the first one to make the mistake will lose.

Give me 10-7 Clones but I am literally not confident in that pick.

Given the buzz surrounding this year’s edition of the Cy-Hawk, it’s easy to see this one being another close matchup. Here’s hoping the Hawkeyes come out on top.

Thanks again to Matthias at WRNL. You can follow him on Twitter @MatthiasWRNL. You can follow WRNL @WideRtNattyLt. Word of warning, they do apparently read tweets not directed at them and they will block you for posting accurate information about Matt Campbell.