College Football Game of the Week: Iowa vs. Iowa State
Most college football fans will have the Battle of Iowa circled on their watch calendar for Saturday. Surprisingly, both the Iowa Hawkeyes and Iowa State Cyclones are ranked in the AP Top 10.
This contest has multiple layers to sift through and digest before, during and after the game. For the Hawkeyes, they are undefeated in their previous seven games, dating back to last season. On the other sideline, the Cyclones are considered a Big 12 championship-caliber team, challenging Oklahoma for a potential conference crown.
Let’s start with the Black and Yellow. Iowa presents a solid rushing attack led by junior Tyler Goodson. Goodson racked up 99 yards and a touchdown versus Indiana in the opener. Plain and simple, the Hawkeyes flattened the Hoosiers 34-6 to propel themselves up eight spots in the rankings.
During Iowa’s seven-game winning streak, quarterback Spencer Petras has thrown for over 200 yards only twice. The junior from California does not need to carry all of the weight to be successful. The Hawkeyes have managed to average 35 points per game during the win streak.
The balanced attack of Iowa is ideal for a team that does not match up well talent-wise with the Ohio State’s of the world. The finishing touch for this squad is its defense.
Over the previous seven games, the Hawkeyes defense has allowed a staggering 12 points per contest. This game is a massive road test this weekend for Iowa, and it might be up for the challenge.
Taking a look at Iowa State, Brock Purdy returned for his senior season to lead the Cyclones’ offense. Throw in preseason Heisman candidate Breece Hall, and this team feels like it belongs where it’s at right now in the polls.
The Cyclones put a head-scratching result on the scoreboard in the opener against Northern Iowa. Ultimately, Iowa State finished the job at home, 16-10. The argument can be made that the Cyclones were not revealing their scheme before facing Iowa. However, Hall received 23 carries and scraped together three yards per attempt on the day.
A key stat to consider for that matchup: third-down efficiency. Iowa State stumbled to a 5-14 mark on third down. Regardless of the game plan, the Cyclones should have been better in that facet of the game.
In the end, this game feels enticingly close. Both of these teams are in somewhat uncharted waters as they soak in the high rankings earned up to this point.
The Hawkeyes find a way to slow down Hall and the running game, while Petras and the Iowa offense connect on a couple of play-action passes. But the high-flying defense of the Hawkeyes will be the game-decider Saturday evening. Iowa will force turnovers and nudge ahead to produce a quality victory over the Cyclones.
Prediction: Iowa Hawkeyes 23, Iowa State Cyclones 16
Evan Popalis is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.