Miracles can happen in any Saturday, and it feels like it will take one for the Iowa State Cyclones to get out of their losing ways – especially after getting pounded by 64 against the Baylor Bears.
It’s hard to think about the Oklahoma State Cowboys without thinking of the Cyclones’ biggest victory in their history two years ago and preventing OSU from making it to the national championship with just one week to go. However, lots have changed since 2011. Neither team is as good as they were in that matchup, but there are some ways that Iowa State can pick up their second win of the season.
1. Sam Richardson needs to step into his throws and have a great pass-efficient day.
Lots of focus will be at the quarterback position, and if Richardson starts off slow there could be boos early in Jack Trice Stadium. Since I don’t believe Grant Rohach can come in to save the day yet, it will be Richardson who needs to have an accurate day passing the ball. Oklahoma State is third-worst in the conference in passing defense, giving up 237.7 yards per game. He can do it, but it all depends on how much his nagging injuries let him do it.
2. Passing success will have to come with an unlikely effective running game.
One perk for the Cowboys this year is rushing defense, holding teams to just 117.5 yards per game and giving up just four touchdowns, a Big 12 best. Aaron Wimberly will struggle to reach 100 yards with an inconsistent offensive line, and let’s not hold our breath on the other running backs unless there’s a short yardage position to put Jeff Woody in.
3. Iowa State’s defense needs to make plays.
It’s time to give up on the Cyclones actually shutting any opponent down defensively. They’re the worst in the Big 12 at defending the pass, and would be worst in defending the run if it wasn’t for Texas’ 550-yard outlier against BYU. Since Ames High would be challenge for this defense to stop, it’s going to be up to them to force turnovers. Oklahoma State has done just that despite having a +7 turnover margin; the team has thrown six picks and lost three fumbles.
4. The Cyclones would have an advantage if Clint Chelf starts at quarterback for the Cowboys.
This is no disrespect to Chelf, especially since he came in to defeat TCU last week, but this is all about matchups. TCU defends the run well, limiting J.W. Walsh to be a throwing quarterback. Any dual-QB against Iowa State’s defense spells disaster, which is exactly what Chelf isn’t. This is why the Cyclones looked so much better against Case McCoy on the Longhorns this year compared to David Ash last year.
5. Iowa State needs to capitalize on Oklahoma State’s similar field goal woes.
Both teams are the bottom of the conference when it comes to field goals: the Cyclones have made 6 of 10 and the Cowboys have made 6 of 12. Even if the ISU defense gives up over 600 yards (spoiler alert: probably), that will be forgiven if they can hold OSU to at least a couple field goal attempts. As of right now, it’s just a 50-50 shot that they’ll make it.