After Iowa State gets done battling the three-time FCS champions and their first Big 12 opponent, the Cyclones will head to Iowa City to take on their in-state rivals.
It’s been an absolute trainwreck for Iowa State when it comes to playing at Iowa as of late. After winning three straight games from 1998 to 2002, Iowa State lost four straight games at Kinnick Stadium until the 9-3 slopfest two seasons ago.
That game displayed just the beginning of how tough a transition it was for offensive coordinator Greg Davis, who previously coached at Texas, in Iowa’s first season. But the offense took a big step from last season, stepping up from being the ninth-worst nationally (yes, Iowa State had a better offense with Steele Jantz and Jared Barnett) to 85th.
There’s still some work to do for the Hawkeyes, but things look bright for them to return to form. Not only do they return the majority of their impact players — quarterback Jake Rudock, running back Mark Weisman, and wide receiver Kevonta Martin-Manley — but much of their line is filled with juniors and seniors.
Believe it or not, the Hawkeyes, similar to last season, will probably be the easiest game for Iowa State compared to the earlier two tests, even though it’s on the road. That statement is going to irk a lot of Iowa fans — and boy, did that defensive bunch let me know about it when I brought up the thought that the Cyclones should be favored at home against them — but outside of Kansas, it’s the weakest offense ISU will face all season long.
But here’s the thing. Iowa State couldn’t stop Weisman last year, and nearly every position on Iowa has improved. If the Cyclones couldn’t beat them at Jack Trice last year, it’s going to be nearly triple the challenge on the road.
However, ISU has gained some experience on offense. Their offensive line can’t be banged up like it was last season, and all the skill positions that had an effect last season are back. Aaron Wimberly might be a big presence, one of the wide receivers might have a big day. Call me crazy, but the Cyclones can pull off upsets, and I got them in this one.
Because if I don’t pick Iowa State to win at some point, I’ll get Cyclone fans upset with me. And I’m more okay with Hawkeye fans being upset with me.
IAST 20, IOWA 17