Here is everything you need to know about the upcoming Big 12 game in our Iowa State vs. Northern Iowa preview and prediction.
11:00 a.m. Central Time, Saturday, August 31st, 2019, Jack Trice Stadium, Ames, Iowa
Radio:Iowa State: Cyclone Radio Network/Learfield; Northern Iowa: PSN radio network/TuneIn
Fun Fact: The Cyclones have a 23-10 all-time record against the Panthers.
Trevor Allen, running back
The Panthers are going to be starting a quarterback who does not have much playing time, as last year’s starter, Eli Dunne, is gone, so that leaves it to the running game to try and get things going early to pull off an upset. Allen is the team’s top returning rusher and was second on the team last year with 649 rushing yards and five touchdowns, while averaging 4.6 yards per carry. He dealt with some injuries last season which limited his playing time, but showed signs of explosiveness like against Indiana State (26 carries for 180 yards) or against Lamar in the FCS Playoffs (18 carries, 112 yards).
Seth Thomas, DL
Northern Iowa loses most of its production on a very productive defensive line from last season. Thomas now enters his senior year and his leadership will be needed on and off the field. He started all 13 games last season with 39 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and three sacks. He’s the top returner at the position and Northern Iowa will need to make Brock Purdy feel uncomfortable early to try and pull off the upset and that starts with Thomas.
Brock Purdy, QB
Hey, it’s now the Brock Purdy show in Ames, right? He’s the clear leader of this team and this offense and he gets his first crack at it without studs like Hakeem Butler and David Montgomery. He changed the Iowa State offense last year going 7-3 as a starter with wins over two ranked teams and helping ISU average over 30 points per game and more than 400 total yards per game. Who is ready for the encore?
JaQuan Bailey, DE
He’s our Preseason Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and for good reason. His 18.5 career sacks are tied for a school record, he led the Cyclones and finished fourth in the Big 12 with eight sacks last season and had 14.5 tackles for loss, which was sixth-best in the Big 12.
The Panthers are a Preseason Top 25 FCS selection this year and will look to shock the Cyclones to kick off the season. Iowa State’s question marks are on offense and at cornerback, where they are replacing two starters. Granted, the defensive is still very experience and highly talented everywhere else, so the Panthers should challenge the ISU corners out of the gates with quick screen passes to try and get some momentum early on. Defensively, bring pressure on Brock Purdy and make him find his new safety net with Butler and Montgomery out of the picture. Northern Iowa is replacing a lot of key players from last season on both sides of the ball, so an all-or-nothing strategy from the get-go seems like the play if the Panthers want to try and pull off the upset.
The Cyclones can’t control the weather, which is one of the few things Matt Campbell doesn’t try to control, but if he could, he should. The opener being cancelled last season by lightning threw a wrench into the start of Iowa State’s 2018 season and they came out flat in their next game against in-state rival Iowa. As for controllable things, get the wide receivers and running backs comfortable early and often. Whether it’s DeShaunte Jones, Tarique Milton, Landon Akers, Sean Shaw, etc., spread it around so Purdy gets a flow going in game action with a lot of new-ish faces. Same thing at running back with Sheldon Croney, Johnny Lang, Breece Hall and Kene Nwangwu.
Iowa State 31, Northern Iowa 13
The Cyclones will not have any weather issues in this opener and will not be looking ahead to Iowa since they have a week off in between Game 1 and Game 2. Northern Iowa may be a Top 25 FCS team, but they lost their starting QB, top rusher and top defenders from last season. It’s too much to ask for this team in their first game of the season to go on the road and beat a legitimate Big 12 threat in Iowa State.
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