Here is everything you need to know about the Cyclones opener in our Iowa State vs. Northern Iowa preview.
Kickoff: September 2nd, 2017 | 7 p.m. CT | Jack Trice Stadium
Radio: Cyclone Radio Network
QB Eli Dunne
Dunne started four games last season, racking up over 1,000 passing yards with seven touchdowns to eight interceptions. He has a couple of big tight end targets to work with in Briley Moore and Elias Nissen. Iowa State has a lot of experience in the secondary, so it will be up to Dunne to try and exploit what he can from that unit.
CB Malcolm Washington
Iowa State quarterback Jacob Park has a ton of targets at wide receiver, highlighted by Allen Lazard. Washington is the biggest cornerback for UNI at 6′, and will likely draw some of the toughest match ups that the Cyclones have.
LT Jake Campos
In last season’s surprising season-opening loss to Northern Iowa, the Cyclones had just 51 rushing yards because the Northern Iowa defensive line was having a field day against Iowa State’s offensive line. Now with Jake Campos back, who missed last season with injury, there is an anchor on the line to help this unit and hopefully improve the success of the running game.
LB Joel Lanning
We have to include Lanning on this list, right? I mean the guy is making the move from quarterback to linebacker, this is the most fascinating situation in the entire game. How does he handle it? How does he look? Spring practice and fall camp are totally different scenarios from live game action. The linebackers are the weak spot in this Iowa State defense, so if Lanning picks this up as quickly as many predict, it’s going to be exciting for folks in Ames.
Iowa State’s defensive line
It’s a new look defensive line for Matt Campbell. The unit had its issues last season, but there are some new faces that will have a decent-enough test against UNI’s offensive line. Ray Lima was brought in as a JUCO transfer with high expectations. If he’s going to live up to the hype, a big game against lesser competition like Northern Iowa would be a great way to start.
Run the ball
As noted above, Iowa State must improve on last season’s 51 rushing yards against the Panthers. Campos is back, so is Julian Good-Jones, who missed last season’s game with a suspension. David Montgomery and Mike Warren must put together a nice performance to then open up the passing game for Jacob Park and company.
Iowa State 31, Northern Iowa 17
There’s no doubt that Matt Campbell is reminding his guys of last year’s season-opening loss to UNI. This Iowa State team isn’t just much better, it’s more prepared and more focused, and has a better attitude with more team camaraderie in Year 2 under Matt Campbell. Iowa State is hoping to make a big jump from last season’s three-win campaign, and that must begin with a revenge win, preferably impressively, over the Northern Iowa Panthers.
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