The Iowa State Cyclones and Iowa Hawkeyes have one of the more underrated in-state rivalries in college football. Unfortunately for Iowa State, the Hawkeyes have owned the series lately.
The Cyclones last beat Iowa in 2014, one of the few blemishes on the resume of up-and-coming ISU head coach Matt Campbell. The oddsmakers say Campbell’s team will likely end a five-game losing streak in the rivalry, installing ISU as a four-point favorite in this year’s matchup.
Perhaps Iowa State might have ended this streak a year ago, but the teams did not meet last year for the first time since 1976 due to the Big Ten's conference-only schedule.
Here’s what to watch as the Hawkeyes try to notch their sixth straight Cy-Hawk win.
Iowa at Iowa State
Kickoff: Saturday, Sept. 11 at 4:30 p.m. ET
Spread: Iowa State -4
When Iowa Has the Ball
Iowa rolled to a 34-6 win over Indiana in its first game of the year, but the offensive output didn’t match the Hawkeyes’ point total. Iowa quarterback Spencer Petras completed 13 of 27 passes for just 145 yards. In true Iowa fashion, his favorite target was tight end Sam LaPorta, who caught five passes for 89 yards.
Meanwhile, the Hawkeyes pumped out a steady 4.4 yards per rush versus the Hoosiers. Tyler Goodson ran the ball 19 times for 99 yards and a touchdown.
Iowa will face a tougher challenge this week, though. The ISU defense is one of the best in the nation, with 10 of 11 starters back from a year ago. The Cyclones stop the run especially well, giving up 3.23 yards per rush in 2020, which ranked 10th nationally.
When Iowa State Has the Ball
The Cyclones struggled to put points on the board in Week 1 against FCS opponent Northern Iowa. Star running back Breece Hall clawed out 69 rushing yards on 23 carries, with a long of just 12 yards for the game.
With TE Charlie Kolar on the sidelines, the Cyclones couldn’t get much going through the air either. Receiver Xavier Hutchinson was a lone bright spot with 88 yards on seven catches. Having Kolar back in the lineup on Saturday will be vital to jump-starting the ISU passing attack.
The Cyclones are facing an Iowa defense that played nothing short of dominant football last week. The Hawkeyes allowed just 77 rushing yards on 31 attempts. Meanwhile, they picked off Indiana QB Michael Penix Jr. three times, and the Hoosiers averaged a paltry 4.7 yards per pass attempt.
Based strictly on last week’s results, Iowa should win this game in a walkover. The Hawkeyes just blew out an Indiana team that started the season ranked in the Top 25, while an FCS team had Iowa State on the ropes for four quarters.
That was last week, though. This week, the Cyclones get a chance to exorcise some demons against Iowa with one of the best ISU teams in program history.
On paper, these two squads look a lot alike: solid defenses, veteran quarterbacks, physical ground games. So why will Iowa State finally get the Cy-Hawk Trophy back? Desperation, for starters. There’s also the crowd in Ames, which should be whipped into a frenzy by kickoff.
Prediction: Iowa State 23, Iowa 17
— Written by Allen Kenney, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Kenney is the founder and editor of BlatantHomerism.com and host of the Blatant Homerism Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @BlatantHomerism.
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