College Football Game of the Week: Cy-Hawk Bowl (No. 19 Iowa vs. Iowa State)
The Cy-Hawk bowl is back and the 19th-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes travel to Ames, Iowa to take on the Iowa State Cyclones.
With Iowa controlling the all-time series lead 44-22 and currently riding on a four-game winning streak, the Hawkeyes have enjoyed a great deal of success against their instate arch rivals. Entering the season with a top 25 ranking, the Hawkeyes sport a top pass rush led by star edge player AJ Epenesa.
The Hawkeyes also bring back experienced starter Nate Stanley, who already has shown improvement from last year. However, the Hawkeyes have a rather weak secondary, something that Iowa State starting quarterback Brock Purdy will look to exploit, especially after a disappointing performance against the University of Northern Iowa, which saw the Cyclones put up a large number of yards yet rarely finding the end-zone.
Iowa State also sports a very talented group of linebackers who can bring pressure from many directions. Stanley will have to be very aware in the pocket and be able to call out blitzes before they can blow up the Iowa backfield. With this in mind Iowa State will also have to be mindful of Epenesa, who is a game wrecker in his own right.
An issue for Iowa State so far this season has been establishing a run game. With only 185 total rushing yards as a team this season and only one rushing touchdown, the running game is really not there for the Cyclones. Add in the fact that this Iowa team sports a terrific run defense also does not help. With Johnnie Lang and Sheldon Croney Jr. both splitting tackles evenly it will be interesting to see if one back takes over the backfield or if head coach Matt Campbell continues to split carries between the two.
On the flip side, the Hawkeyes do have a much better rushing attack with Mekhi Sargent. He is currently leading the team with 150 rushing yards on the year but with the Cyclones' top-notch front seven and a particularly tough group of linebackers might make it hard for the Hawkeyes to establish a run game. The Hawkeyes will most definitely have to rely on the experience of quarterback Nate Stanely who has seen more than his fair share of tough road matchups.
Finally, the game will be putting the Hawkeyes in a rough road environment. How much the crowd affects Iowa's quarterback Nate Stanley will impact this matchup. However, Iowa also has one of the best coaches in all of college football in Kirk Ferentz, so the Hawkeyes will be as heavily prepared and have a full game plan in store.
Iowa State will have to come out hot and keep the crowd in the game. The home field advantage will be huge for the Cyclones and should give them a real edge, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. All in all, the Cyclones defense will be their real edge as their versatility at the linebacker position will allow them to pressure Stanely and control the middle of the field. The Cyclones get the close upset win.
Prediction: Iowa State 28, Iowa 21
David Saggio is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.