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The Pants Predicts: Iowa vs Iowa State

The Iowa Hawkeyes look to make it seven straight against the Cyclones

Iowa State v Iowa Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images

The Hawkeyes are back and kickoff is now just a day away! With less than 24 hours until Iowa opens the season against South Dakota State, it’s time for The Pants to weigh in with their views on how this week’s matchup plays out.

As a reminder, here’s what we (and you!) thought about this one before the season began.

Preseason Staff Prediction: Iowa win - 7 for, 3 against

Preseason Fan Prediction: Iowa win, 87% of the vote

Preseason BizarroMath Prediction: Iowa State win, 56% of the time

So, has anything changed since we those preseason estimates? Yes!* There are a couple more predicted losses for the Hawkeyes with Iowa taking 7 of our 12 predictions below. The Iowa -3.5 line has HELD STEADY for almost all of the week from our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook. Of course, this is much different than some of the offseason lines which had Iowa as a double-digit favorite. Congratulations to you if you’re holding a rare Iowa State +10.5 ticket. We’ll have an update tomorrow morning in our How to Watch story.

(*Because BizarroMath does not account for FCS games, the prediction remains a ~25-22 Iowa State victory / 44% chance of victory for the Hawks)

The staff prediction averages out to Iowa State 15, Iowa 12.75, with the five losses being by an average of 10.4 points but the seven wins being by anywhere from 3-5 points. We all expect a low-scoring affair, with BizarroMax’s 23-16 loss being the highest scoring of the bunch and still hitting the under 40!

Here’s a look at each of our individual predictions for tomorrow’s matchup.


Do I think the offense can possibly be as bad as it was week one again? Yes, yes I do. Do I think the defense can possibly outscore the offense again this week? Also yes, but “can” is the operative word here. Iowa State isn’t a world beater, but they’re good enough to find paydirt at least once and that’s likely an insurmountable deficit for this wholly incompetent offense.

SDSU held Iowa to an abysmal 1.6 yards per carry in week one and Iowa State isn’t likely to be an easier matchup for this offensive line that is likely to need several more weeks to gel and look even serviceable. If Iowa can’t run the ball, they may as well punt on first down.

Prediction: Iowa State 13, Iowa 6


My theme this year is reversing trends, and, pre-season, I predicted ISU to beat Iowa in this game. For one, my algorithm says they probably will, projecting ISU as a 3.49 favorite in Kinnick, which works out to a win percentage of 55.60%. I saw nothing in week 1 to give me cause to reverse course. The defense was better than expected, but against an FCS opponent, and the offense was worse than expected against that FCS opponent.

This weekend is not against an FCS opponent. The Cyclones played better than their record last year, and BizarroMath projects Iowa State to have a 59.76% chance of going at least 9-3, and a 31.38% chance of going at least 10-2. This is partially a function of ISU’s craptastic schedule, but also the Cyclones’ opponent-adjusted 37.45 PPG on offense, while giving up just 18.24 OA PPG on defense.

They say you make the most improvement between week 1 and week 2, so maybe Iowa figures some things out. Perhaps Iowa was looking past its FCS opponent. Maybe it was early season rust. It’s possible that we later look back at the SDSU game the same way we looked back at the UNI game in 2009.

But until the Hawkeyes show me something on the field, I’m not willing to extend this offense any credit, and I just can’t see Iowa scoring more than 20 on the Cyclones at the very most, and that’s assuming some fortunate turnovers. Iowa’s gaudy win streak against the Cyclones comes to an end Saturday to give Matt Campbell that long-sought cathartic win over Iowa.

Prediction: Iowa State 23, Iowa 16


I’ve bounced back and forth on this game ever since the game last Saturday ended. I didn’t want to jump to make any assumptions based on what I had just watched. But I’m not really sure time has done anything for my feelings on this one. Ask me again who will win in another hour and I may have a different answer for you.

This is going to be an ugly game, it’s just a question of what type of ugly it will be for Iowa. Force the Cyclones to play slamball and I like Iowa’s chances. Let them get an early lead and it could get out of hand. The recipe for this game is going to be the same as SDSU: pin the Cyclones deep in their own territory and let the defense do their thing. If the defense is as good as we think it is, and if they can keep Iowa State from getting rhythm going, then Iowa can work with the short field and catch a lucky TD or maybe even * gasp * two. Continuing to win the turnover battle will be key as well. We didn’t see any last week, this defense is due.

But if Iowa State gets out to an early lead, even something as low as 10 points I’m not sure this offense can climb out of a hole like that right away. Given time, possibly, but it would make for a pretty nervous Kinnick Stadium.

But ask me again tomorrow for something completely different.

Prediction: Iowa 16, Iowa State 13 (OT)


Lost in the roaring discussion about Iowa’s QB play was the fact that this defense was everything we expected, and possibly more. That was an offense that would place in the middle of the B1G. Iowa’s defense used the field position advantage to put so much pressure on their offense. It was a thing of beauty.

But the defense can only do so much to help give this offense opportunities. I’m worried we see Iowa scoreless after the 1st quarter and the home crowd gets restless. The boos come out, and the crowd starts having a hard time getting up for those big 3rd down defensive plays. There was nothing last week that gives me any hope that the offensive issues can be fixed by Week 2 (but I’m not ruling it out by Week 6). I think we continue to see issues on that side and at halftime the team is forced to make a change at quarterback. Unfortunately, I don’t see that changing the overall tenor of the offense either though.

Prediction: Iowa State 20, Iowa 6

Bartt Pierce

“Everything changes, nothing stays the same.” - my Mom. Going off of one pathetic offensive output against a good team, I’m not quite in panic mode, but I am getting a whiff of it and it smells like Go-Gurt left in a locker over winter break. Kirk has built his team on defense and special teams. Those groups are up for the challenge, but it’s asinine having to rely on those teams to score points in order to win. After Brian’s comments this week about “Our QB had time to make the throws” I’m thinking we see one half for Spencer Petras. After that a more-mobile Alex Padilla will take over. Either way, not great. It would be fantastic to get Brody Brecht involved. Until our squad can put points on the board, I’m going against our black and gold warriors. Our streak against Cy comes to an end.

Prediction: Iowa State 16, Iowa 3


Maybe I’m a sucker and a hopeless optimist, but I somehow see a way through for Iowa. How, you ask? Whenever something gets hairy and the fans approach open revolt, Kirk Ferentz manages to wiggle out of it. He doubles down on himself, his staff, and his players and he gets out of danger. It never makes sense, it’s always an utterly ridiculous way out, but he manages to do it. As a friend put it last night - Kirk Ferentz is David Blaine. He’s an elite escape artist. He’s in a straitjacket, in a sunken submarine 2,000 feet below the surface for absolutely no reason at all, and yet there he is, squeezing out through the torpedo bay of the sunken vessel sans straitjacket and rapidly ascending for oxygen. He has the bends, but he survives for the next stupid, totally unnecessary escape next Saturday. I think the same happens here. They’ll manage to keep the boo birds at bay for another week and do just enough offensively to get the win, which is all Kirk Ferentz cares about anyway.

Now, it won’t be a fun game to watch unless you’re a sicko and you’re rubber necking to see Iowa’s circus freak of an offense. I think it will be like the 2012 edition of this game, a 9-6 Iowa State win in Kinnick that neither team wanted to win (fumbles in the red zone, missed extra points, missed field goals, 6 total turnovers, Iowa stalling inside the Iowa State 10 multiple times; it was a terrible, terrible game). It won’t make any sense at all, you’ll need to drink a lot to get through this, but Iowa finds a way to land in the W column, yet again.

Prediction: Iowa 12, Iowa State 9


Listen... I need to see one of Matt Campbell, PJ Fleck, or Scott Frost to beat Iowa before I believe any of them can beat Iowa. So let’s start there.

Iowa’s defense is going to be Iowa’s defense and Iowa’s offense is going to be Iowa’s offense. I’m giving them 15 points in the weirdest way possible. Matt Campbell will somehow spin himself into a tizzy and snag a defeat from the jaws of victory with a Brohmian decision to air it out under 5 minutes to go with a one-point lead in hand. The late pick-six adds to Iowa’s three field goals and they, naturally, fail to convert on the two-point conversion.

Prediction: Iowa 15, Iowa State 10


I write this prediction after just having picked up my Jimmy Johns sandwich for lunch. This particular Jimmy Johns which lies within walking distance of my office, is notoriously known for giving out the wrong sandwiches to it’s patrons. Therefore, my unwrapped sandwich s seems a fitting analogy for this weekends up coming game. I don’t know what to expect. Will the offense come through with a beautiful Italian Nightclub sans mayo performance and bring optimism back to the fanbase? Or does the awkward eye contact I made with the cashier as he passed me my lunch point to trouble ahead equal to that of a “Totally Tuna” sandwich? Who gets tuna from a sub chain?!

Anyways, my previous ties to Iowa State put me on the heater for smack talk every season and I just can’t take that nonsense this year. So give me the Hawks baby! Hutchinson is an elite WR for ISU but I could see Dekkers tossing a couple picks to balance out the damage dealt to our defense. As per usual, the Hawks ride Tory Taylor’s leg to flip field and muster up enough points for a W. And as BoilerHawk mentioned, I have to see it first before I predict a Cyclone victory. Last tidbit, watch to see if Blom attacks the football on his first FG attempt. That will be telling to if Iowa wins this game.

Prediction: Iowa 20, Iowa State 17


I wrote nearly 1,500 words on this game as part of this week’s preview article, so I’ll keep this short and sweet. Iowa was as bad offensively last week as any Power Five football team I’ve seen play in a long time. They may not perform much better this week. But I will believe that Matt Campbell is capable of beating this team and this coaching staff when I see him do it. And getting his first win against Ferentz and co. in the first Cy-Hawk game played in Iowa City since 2018? Come on, now.

Prediction: Iowa 15, Iowa State 12


Well, I’ve been saying since before the season, Iowa State is just...overdue for a win against us. This series defies logic. Good football goes to die in the name of chaos and horror when Iowa plays Iowa State. Our streak is unsustainable, and getting offensive yards for this team is unobtainable. I’ve gotta go with my gut and pick the Cyclones this year. But also, I will never stop laughing if this ISU team can’t beat us. If there ever was a year for Matt Campbell to get his first win against Iowa, it’s this year. It will be extremely sweet for his losing streak to continue at the hands of the most horrid Iowa offense of all time.

Iowa State 21, Iowa 10


Well, what can I say that hasn't already been stated. Iowa’s offense is putrid, and I will not believe anything different until I see it on the field. That being said, I have faith that the Hawks can pull this out, strictly for a similar reason to what I just stated. Is Iowa’s offense terrible? Yes. But answer this, has Matt Campbell proven he has an answer for Iowa’s defense? To this point, no. I’ll believe the Matt Campbell can beat Iowa when I actually see it.

Prediction: Iowa 17, Iowa State 13

John Kuster

It’s not time to hit the panic button.

Sure, it was a wildly uninspiring performance last Saturday vs. the Jackrabbits, but if that seemed out of the ordinary to you - you must have just started watching Iowa football.

The defense is elite enough to grind through victories against the likes of Iowa State. Will that trend continue into Big Ten play is still up for debate.

Remember folks, punting is winning. Let’s get #ToryTaylorForHeisman trending tomorrow afternoon.

Prediction: Iowa 17, Iowa State 13

And there you have it! What do you think will happen tomorrow?

Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See for details.