Iowa State (1-1) will be looking to bounce back this week on the road against UNLV after another loss in the Cy-Hawk Series rivalry against Iowa. The Cyclones came into the 2021 college football season with high expectations and still have a lot to play for but haven't put things together on offense.
This week, the 14th-ranked Cyclones will travel to Sin City to take on the Rebels (0-2) on Saturday night at Allegiant Stadium. Cyclone fans making the trip to Las Vegas will be in for a treat as Allegiant Stadium is a crown jewel of new state-of-the-art football stadiums across sports.
The combination of turnovers and poor field position proved costly for Iowa State in its 27-17 home loss to Iowa last Saturday. The Cyclones turned the football over four times and were pinned inside their own 20-yard line on five out of eight Hawkeye punts. Brock Purdy completed 13 of 27 passes for 138 yards and threw three interceptions. Running back Breece Hall couldn't get much going on the ground either, as he had 16 carries for 69 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively, Iowa State limited Iowa to just 173 total yards and 2.9 yards per play, but the problem was that the Cyclones couldn't hold the Hawkeyes out of the end zone at the right time. Linebacker Jake Hummel led the defensive effort with eight tackles, including two for a loss and one sack.
UNLV dropped its second straight game, falling at Arizona State 37-10. The Rebels did jump out to a 10-7 second-quarter lead. However, after quarterback Doug Brumfield left the game with an injury in the third quarter, it became an uphill battle for UNLV to get anything going on offense. In addition, the defense wore down as the Sun Devils piled up 290 rushing yards, including 122 by quarterback Jayden Daniels.
Iowa State at UNLV
Kickoff: Saturday, Sept. 18 at 10:30 p.m. ET
Spread: Iowa State -30.5
When Iowa State Has the Ball
Saturday night should end up as a get-right week for a Cyclones offense that is averaging 337.0 yards per game. Purdy is still looking for his first touchdown pass this season, as he enters this game completing 64 percent of his attempts with three interceptions. Hall needs to be the focal point of the offense early, as the Cyclones should have a clear physical advantage up front. Hall should get enough opportunities to record his first 100-yard game of the season after posting nine such performances in 2020.
The UNLV defense will need to try and force Purdy to throw the ball early given his struggles. Safety Bryce Jackson led the Rebels with nine tackles last week against Arizona State, but it can't come down to the secondary making all the stops or plays if the Rebels want to have any shot at the upset.
When UNLV Has the Ball
UNLV is facing a huge challenge in trying to move the ball against an Iowa State defense that is tied for seventh nationally in yards allowed per game (224). Justin Rogers could potentially start at quarterback in place of Brumfield, who left last week's game after taking a brutal hit. The primary goal for head coach Marcus Arroyo and the offensive staff this week will be to limit turnovers. Finding a way to grind out some first downs and chew up the clock is the best chance for UNLV to compete in this game.
Charles Williams is a quality running back who can run for 100-plus yards on a given night, and it would be wise for the Rebels' game plan to feature him early and often. In the season-opening 35-33 loss to FCS Eastern Washington, Williams had 28 carries for 177 yards and two touchdowns. Kyle Williams will need to contribute a couple of explosive plays in the passing game to keep the Cyclones' defense honest and prevent them from stacking the box to stop the run.
Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell should not have any issues getting his team ready to play this week after the disappointing loss to Iowa.
The Cyclones may come out a bit sluggish and be unable to deliver the early knockout punch, but after the emotion from playing a top-15 opponent in Allegiant Stadium wears off for UNLV, things should settle down. Purdy and Hall will each enjoy their most productive games of the season as Iowa State's offense wears down the Rebels in the second half. The Cyclones should pick up a confidence-building victory on Saturday night.
Prediction: Iowa State 38, UNLV 10
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