Let’s see, Iowa State looks horrible in week one and everyone writes them off and then they come back against the Hawkeyes the next week and look like world beaters and take it to Iowa in Ames…we’ve seen this movie before.
In 2007, Iowa State lost its first two games, to a Kent team that went 3-9 that year and then 24-13 against Northern Iowa, only to beat the Hawkeyes without even scoring a touchdown, the 15-13 affair where Bret Culbertson kicked five field goals to ‘lead’ the Cyclones to victory.
Then they lost their next six games en route to a 3-9 season.
In 2005 they looked uninspired in a 32-21 win against Illinois State that was much closer than the final score indicated. Meanwhile in Iowa City, the Hawkeyes were beating Ball State 56-0. Iowa came into Ames ranked 8th in the country and feeling pretty good about itself. They left town licking their wounds after a 23-3 loss, exacerbated by Drew Tate knocking himself out of the game with a bell ringer trying to tackle an Iowa State defender after he threw a pick. This after Albert Young had 80 yards rushing in the first quarter, but five Hawkeye turnovers led to points for ISU and the Hawkeyes never got farther than Iowa State’s 26 yard line. That was Dan McCarnery’s first win over a Top 10 team and Iowa State’s first win over a Top 10 team since 1992.
The ghosts of Hawkeye past are never far from the front of the minds of Iowa fans when trips to Ames roll around and that’s no different this year.
Iowa is 1-1 and comes limping into this game, having lost seven of their last eight games on the whole and nine of their last 13, including last year’s 9-6 loss to ISU in Kinnick.
ISU was bad in their loss to UNI to begin the year, allowing over seven yards per play, well over 200 yards rushing, nearly 500 total yards and not being able to run the ball themselves. They lost at home to an FCS team in a game where they had zero turnovers.
ISU was weak in the trenches and then lost the best offensive lineman, Tom Farniok, to a strained knee and he will miss this week’s game. ISU was so weak in the trenches it’s hard to imagine how they can get that much better in that area in just two weeks…these things almost look like they won’t be corrected without another year in the weight room.
That said, they’ll likely be corrected for just this one week, when the Hawkeyes come to town. It just seems to be par for the course in this series.
I fully expect Iowa State to bring a very aggressive defensive game plan; blitz Jake Rudock early and often. Send linebackers and safeties into the line of scrimmage to support their overmatched defensive linemen against the run.
These are strategies that have worked for ISU for a long time against Iowa…from McCarney’s DC John Skladany to Chizik’s Wayne Bolt and now to Wally Burnham…just get aggressive when Iowa comes to down and in most cases, it’s worked. They didn’t do that in 2010 and they got smoked. They did it in 2009 but they threw five interceptions and Iowa had their way. Burnham isn’t a big blitz guy, however, but something just tells me he will be on Saturday.
Again, none of these players from the past are in this game. These are two different Iowa and ISU teams and much like the way it was in 2007, neither of these teams inspire a great deal of confidence in their fan base. Well, I take that back; Iowa fans did not yet know how lethargic and inefficient the 2007 offense would turn out to be, or how challenged the offensive line would be at protecting the quarterback.
Heading into this year’s CyHawk game, it would seem both fanbases have their eyes wide open. Iowa State fans saw their confidence shaken after the loss to Northern Iowa especially in the fashion that it happened, where the Panthers controlled the line of scrimmage. Iowa lost to Northern Illinois at home to begin the year and last week’s 28-14 win against FCS foe Missouri State felt like a loss in some ways as Iowa failed to turn opportunities into points.
Iowa has a sophomore quarterback who has eight quarters of playing experience and has never played in an environment other than Kinnick Stadium during his college career. He has played on big stages away from home at the high school level, as his team played in Jerry World en route to the mythical national title a few years back. Jake Rudock seems to have an intangible about him that doesn’t get rattled easily and a control and command that is impressive for his inexperience, yet he’s a first year starter making his first ever road start in a snake pit.
Do I think Iowa has the better team right now? Yes, but I couldn’t say by how much. Iowa’s biggest advantage will be in their running game, but if they try to line up with power and tight formations it will just encourage Iowa State to load the box and bring the linebackers and safeties down in run support, negating Iowa’s advantage. Since this isn’t the 2002 or 2008 offensive lines, I just don’t see them imposing their will regardless of the front they are going up against.
Iowa has shown a lot of different looks at it relates to formation and play selection and I hope we see them run the ball out of some single back and spread looks against fewer defenders. I also wish I were growing more hair on the top of my head, but I don’t think that is going to happen, just like I don’t think Iowa will run it much out of spread formations.
Iowa’s offense hasn’t shown anything close to consistency yet this year and I have a hard time believing they’ll find it in Ames. While Iowa State appears to be headed for a bowl-less season following a loss to Northern Iowa, the Hawkeyes will likely be heading towards a bowl-less season if they lose in Ames.
In the end, I’ve just seen this script before and the 5pm start is setting Jack Trice up to be a powder keg. Against all of my being, I’ll call it Iowa State 24, Iowa 23.
Here is a link to more predictions on this game, including the BTN’s Tom Dienhart picking Iowa State to win by the same 24-23 score.
FRIDAY FOOTBALL LINKS
2-Minute Drill — The Iowa State Cyclones | TheGazette
Central Florida vs. South Florida . . . on a field in Iowa | TheGazette
Pewter family trophy in witness protection | TheGazette
Bryce Miller: Big Game loser faces difficult road | Hawk Central
Cy-Hawk predictions from around the country | Hawk Central
Football coaches at Iowa, ISU combine to make more than million | Hawk Central
Relive the Big Game: Thousands of photos through the years | Hawk Central
What are the keys to winning Cy-Hawk game? Fox Sports 1 analyst tells us | Hawk Central
Chizik leaving ISU sent Valley grad Boffeli to Iowa | Hawk Central
HuddlePass | Discovering the Rivalry and 3 Things to Watch for Against Iowa State
HuddlePass | Hawks vs. Clowns