In rivalry games, the common cliche is to tell everyone to throw out all the stats after the game finally kicks off. The last two games in the series between Iowa and Iowa State couldn’t hold truer by featuring the most scored and fewest scored point totals in the Cy-Hawk trophy era.
The most low-scoring game happened back on November 5th, 1910, when the Hawkeyes squeaked out a 2-0 win over the Cyclones in Ames. That was back when games commonly had a 6-0 final score, and the game has obviously evolved after 100 years. When comparing games all the way back to when the Cy-Hawk trophy era began in 1977, it gives a better measure of how the series as has gone. Iowa still reigns supreme overall, but both football programs are trending in different directions with the Cyclones trying to reach their third straight bowl game and ninth in 14 years.
What Iowa State has shown in the last two games specifically is moving the ball on Iowa’s defense. The Cyclones only scored nine points in last season’s contest when they scored 44 the year before, but there was a difference of just 131 yards of total offense. Iowa State moved the ball well in last year’s 9-6 muckfest, but the Iowa defense clamped down in the second half and the red zone was a challenge with a couple turnovers that neglected ISU’s chances to score.
Greg Davis took over as offensive coordinator last year, and the Hawkeyes ranked 113th in scoring offense and 117th in total offense. That 44-41 double-overtime thriller from two seasons ago will remain a huge outlier in this series if Iowa’s offense doesn’t vastly improve this season and in the coming years.
Unless Iowa’s running game blitzes the Cyclones like BYU did against Texas last week, the story behind Iowa State’s win or loss on Saturday will likely be on the offensive side. Sam Richardson has enough weapons to throw to, enough running backs to use the pistol offense to his advantage, that it should overcome the defense’s inability to stop the run should they give up another 200-plus yards.