The Iowa State Cyclones will have its biggest test of the season when it heads to Lubbock, Texas, to take on the 21st-ranked Texas Tech Red Raiders.
Not only will it be the first team the Cyclones face that is ranked, but it will also be the first hostile environment and the luxury of a later game is gone with an early 11:00 AM Central time kickoff.
Preparation is a key factor in the upcoming keys to victory if Iowa State wants to get their first win in Big 12 play.
1. Expect Texas Tech to fill the stadium and ISU needs to be prepared for their first adverse conditions of the season.
Anyone could have taken a nap during Iowa State’s victory cruise at Tulsa, but conference play is a whole different story. Jones AT&T Stadium will be packed in Lubbock, especially the student section that’s averaging over 3,000 more people in the stands than before head coach Kliff Kingsbury was hired. Fans will be cheering on Texas Tech to stay undefeated and already clinch eligibility for a bowl game.
2. Keep in mind that the Red Raiders could have revenge on their mind.
Last time the Cyclones went to Lubbock, they shocked a ranked Red Raiders team by demolishing them 41-7. Things spiraled quickly early on and Texas Tech couldn’t recover. This time they won’t be looking ahead.
3. Iowa State’s defense will need to be prepared for all three quarterbacks.
Kingsbury runs a tight ship at Texas Tech by not letting freshman players speak to the media and has a pokerface when it comes to answering about who will be making the start on Saturday. It could be normal starting QB Baker Mayfield if the knee wasn’t severely injured, but it’s more expected to see either a recovering Michael Brewer who hasn’t seen any action yet this season or backup freshman Davis Webb.
4. The Cyclones’ offensive line has to open things up for Aaron Wimberly.
Good news for ISU is that the depth is back at the offensive line. Starting center Tom Farniok is still recovering but listed as probable for the game. Jamison Lalk has been upgraded to probable and will very likely see some time; he’s still listed behind Daniel Burton at quick guard. If the line can block up to their potential, Wimberly could hit the century mark again for the third straight game.
5. Iowa State’s secondary, their strength on defense, will need to slow down the air raid attack.
Luckily for the Cyclones, they match up fairly well this team especially with the quarterback situation in limbo (Mayfield would be biggest mismatch with his mobile capability the other two QBs don’t have). The pass defense currently ranks toward the middle of the nation, but they’ll need to step up as they’ve given up seven touchdowns (tied for 2nd most in Big 12) and have just one interception (worst in Big 12).