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Iowa State Cyclones vs. Toledo Rockets Preview and Prediction

Tyler Brown

Tyler Brown

The Mid-American Conference's sudden sweetheart Toledo welcomes Big 12 member Iowa State to the Glass Bowl in Toledo in what may prove to be another indicator of what's to come from the Rockets.

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Coming off a stunning 16-12 upset of then-No. 18 Arkansas in Little Rock, Toledo is looking to continue its winning ways over another Power 5 conference team in the Cyclones.

Iowa State goes on the road for the first time in 2015, looking to find its winning ways once more following a disappointing 31-17 home loss to in-state rival Iowa in which the Cyclones were shut out during the second half.

Iowa State leads the all-time series 2-1, including the Cyclones' 37-30 victory over the Rockets in Ames during the 2014 season.

Iowa State at Toledo

Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET (Saturday)
TV Channel: ESPNews
Spread: Toledo -7.5

Three Things to Watch

1. Can Toledo replicate its win over Arkansas?

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The Rockets were scheduled to open the season on Sept. 5 against Stony Brook, but the game was canceled due to extreme weather. So it came as a surprise to all involved when Toledo took command of the Bret Bielema-led Razorbacks on their way to a 16-12 upset. It was an upset they accomplished with a strong game plan and fundamental execution. How the Rockets respond against a similar, yet less talented, Iowa State offense may decide if they're for real in 2015.

2. Which Cyclone offense shows up?

In their opening game win over fellow in-state rival Northern Iowa, the Iowa State offense racked up just 310 yards offense on their way to recording a 31-7 victory. During the first half of the Iowa game last weekend, it looked as though the Cyclones might well be on their way to a 2-0 record as they ran and passed their way to nearly 175 total first half yards. But in the second half, the Cyclones took their proverbial foot off the gas, due in large part to a very talented Hawkeye defensive effort, and blew a 17-10 lead while gaining just 66 total yards in the half.

3. What's the deal with Toledo's O-line?

Toledo returns exactly zero starters to its offensive line in 2015. In their place the Rockets start one senior, three juniors, and a true sophomore. Which many would think explains why Toledo's offense currently ranks 111th in total production. What it doesn't explain however is how that same offensive line ranks first in the nation with zero sacks allowed from it's lone opponent in Arkansas, but still ranking 117th in scoring offense. It's a dilemma the Rockets will need to fix promptly, but one which didn't stop them from knocking off the big and physical Razorbacks from the SEC.

Final Analysis

Toledo is for real. The win over Arkansas, while surprising to many, was but one in a long line of Rocket upsets over teams from bigger conferences who came in with more hype. Head Coach Matt Campbell and his staff have built a strong foundation in 4 short years, and this year looks to be the one in which they see the fruits of those labors. While the Cyclones will certainly be able to use this game as a teaching tool, it's unlikely they'll come away from The Glass Bowl with a victory this time around.

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Prediction: Toledo 17, Iowa State 14

— Written by Robert A. Boleyn, a member of the Athlon Contributor Network and a native Iowan currently based in Southern California. A University of Iowa graduate, Boleyn is a former contributing writer for The Daily Iowan and a die-hard Hawkeye who also keeps a close eye on the Iowa State Cyclones. Follow him on Twitter @BoleynRobert.