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The Butcher’s Word: Iowa State Cyclones

Do the Cyclones think the streak stops here?

NCAA Football: Iowa at Iowa State
Does Hunter Dekkers make Iowa State a totally different team than a season ago?
Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

It’s hate week again in the great state of Iowa and that means another showdown between the Hawkeyes and Cyclones in ¡El Assico! These two programs know each other pretty well, but as much as we might think we know about our rivals in Ames from listening to their fans talk, reading social media or catching a glimpse of them on the tube, we’ll never know as much about the Cyclones as an Iowa State fan.

In the words of the wise and sage like Big Tom Callahan, you can get a good look at a t-bone by sticking your head up a bull’s rear end, but wouldn’t you rather take the butcher’s word for it?

So just like every other week, we’re taking the butcher’s word for it and getting the inside details on Iowa State from our frenemies over at Wide Right Natty Light. We were joined this week by WRNL’s Matthias Schwartzkopf to talk about this weekend’s matchup.

Here’s a look at our conversation.

BHGP: The Cyclones are replacing ~63% of their offensive production from a season ago and breaking in a new QB. Who are the new names for Iowa fans to know on the offensive side of the ball and how does the personnel turnover impact what we’ll see from the Cyclone offense on Saturday?

WRNL: Hopefully you see what we all expect the new offense to be. Use the pass to set up the run. As we know in the past games Matt Campbell has tried to line up and go toe to toe with Iowa and use the same style. Well you can’t out Iowa, Iowa. Dekkers has a big arm that can throw it anywhere on the field. So we are kind of expecting this offense to air it out and run second.

As for names. Look at Xavier Hutchinson and Jaylin Noel. Both WRs have a chance to be all conference type of players and Htuchinson really has transformed himself this season. He may be one of the top WRs in all of college football. He started that case pretty strongly too with 3 touchdown receptions on Saturday.

BHGP: During the current 6-game winning streak for Iowa, the Hawkeyes have created an average of 1.7 turnovers per game from the Cyclones (compared to just 0.2 given away). We saw one interception from Hunter Dekkers in week one. How do you expect him to be able to attack this stingy Iowa defense and is this finally the year we see some regression in the turnover margin?

WRNL: I think we may have to live with Dekkers tossing an interception and hopefully that happens where it doesn’t debilitate you completely. Ideally you don’t want that to happen and we have seen pick sixes haunt Iowa State during this 6-game win streak for the Hawks. In the same token if that does happen, Iowa State has to find a way to create turnovers themselves and not get absolutely crushed in the turnover battle like they did a season ago. Easier said than done.

As for attacking you can go back to the 2017 Cy-hawk game in Ames. Although Iowa State ultimately lost that game they had another big arm QB in Jacob Park and he attacked the middle of the Hawkeye defense and stretched them out and found the gaps. I think that is going to have to be the same. You can’t run first every drive and expect to win this game.

BHGP: Look, nobody should be forced to talk about Iowa’s offense but we have to, I suppose. While Spencer Petras has faced much of the criticism (as well as Brian Ferentz), a lot of Iowa’s issues start up front. The Hawkeyes averaged just 1.6 yards per carry in week one and have a plethora of injuries on the offensive line. What sort of a front will Iowa face on Saturday and should Hawkeye fans expect another long day running the ball?

WRNL: It’s going to be the same things they have seen in years past. Iowa State is going to roll out the 3-3-5 and stop the run and force Petras to win the game(baring any special teams of turnover issues from Iowa State) While Iowa State is replacing some talent all over the defense, the defensive line continues to be strong. Linebackers may be an issue as they took some poor angles in the first half against SEMO but kind of figured it out in the second half. Should be interesting to see how they develop over time.

BHGP: In the passing game, it’s no secret Petras was abysmal in week one. While it somehow wasn’t his worst performance statistically as a Hawkeye, it was about as low as you can possibly go from a QBR standpoint at 1.1. While the struggles were broad based, Petras was worst when pressured (0 for 7 passing with 3 sacks on the day). How should we expect to see the Cyclones work to generate pressure and who are the names we should know in the secondary so we are adequately prepared to mix them in with our obscenities on Saturday?

WRNL: Iowa State hardly blitzed if at all in week one against SEMO. Unless Petras starts getting in Rythm and has a hot streak rolling(which I sure only Hawkeye fans can dream of that scenario at this point) in this game I expect Iowa State not to blitz too much and out some of their young defenders on islands they may not be ready to handle yet. While there is young talent on this Iowa State defense it is still inexperienced and playing on the road. Also with some of the injuries the Hawkeyes are dealing on offense at WR and oline they may not have to blitz to keep them in the game.

BHGP: That leaves us with special teams. They quite literally won Iowa the game in week one and while punter Tory Taylor was Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week, he could have been Iowa’s Offensive MVP. In recent memory, special teams have played a…. big role in the Cy-Hawk series. Do you expect the Cyclones to improved in the third phase of the game Saturday and who is notable for Hawkeye fans here?

WRNL: First of all, screw you and your ability to be great on special teams year in and year out. I feel like Iowa State finally turned the tide in that department a season ago and then both kicker and punter graduated and now starting over with freshman in that department.

Do I expect them to be better than Iowa in that department? No. If they can limit mistakes there that would be a win. What we cannot do is allow Iowa to pin us back 7 times inside the 20 like they did to the Jackrabbits. If you field a punt inside the 20 try to return it, Campbell has been big in previous years on fair catching and not making the mistake.

Notable once again for me is Jaylin Noel. He will return punts for Iowa State he has to keep field position on Iowa State’s side as much as possible.

BHGP: Alright, prediction time. The DraftKings Sportsbook somehow went out and tabbed Iowa as a 3.5 point favorite when this thing opened with an over/under set at 41.5. Iowa State and the under seems like an easy money parlay, but let’s hear your prediction for how this one plays out and a projected final score.

WRNL: I still see and ugly game. While I like Iowa State’s team as whole better (If Iowa’s offense wasn’t in shambles they would be clearly better) this game still inspires no confidence in me. If Iowa slows down Dekkers it will be a long day. I think they have the ability to exploit the Iowa defense but they got to show me they want to do it through the air and not trying to play Iowa’s game against Iowa. For that I will take Iowa 17-14.

So there you have it, an Iowa victory is assured. Nothing to worry about. Don’t even think about fretting over this offensive issue the Hawkeyes seem to have.

Thanks again to Matthias at Wide Right Natty Light. You can find him on Twitter @MatthiasWRNL. And be sure to make a trip over to WRNL to check out their coverage of this week’s matchup for more perspective from behind enemy lines.