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Iowa State vs. Iowa: Preview and Prediction

It’s time to take a look at the upcoming Big 12 game in our Iowa State vs. Iowa preview and prediction.

Game Info

3:00 p.m. Central Time, Saturday September 14th, 2019, Jack Trice Stadium, Ames, Iowa

TV: FS1

Home Radio: Cyclone Radio Network (PxP: John Walters)

Spread: Iowa State -3

Fun Fact: Iowa has won four-straight games in the series, their longest winning streak since ripping off 15 in a row from 1983 to 1997.

 

Key Players

Iowa

WR Ihmir Smith-Marsette

Smith-Marsette is the team’s leading receiver through two games with eight catches for 148 yards and three touchdowns. He’s quickly becoming the new favorite target of QB Nate Stanley, who lost his top targets Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson from last season.

A.J. Epenesa

Epenesa may be the Big Ten’s top pass rusher. Last season he led the Big Ten and ranked 12th nationally in sacks (10.5), ranked second in Big Ten and 16th nationally with four forced fumbles and ranked fourth in Big Ten in tackles for loss (16.5). The First-Team All-Big Ten selection could have a field day against Iowa State’s offensive line.

Iowa State

WR DeShaunte Jones

With Hakeem Butler gone, Jones was Brock Purdy’s favorite target in Week 1, with 14 catches for 126 yards, ten more catches than anyone else on the team. Jones started all 13 games last season and was second on the team in catches. It’s one thing to be the No. 1 target against an FCS opponent, but can Jones handle that role vs. a solid Top 25 Big Ten program.

LB Marcel Spears

Spears is a key cog in this Iowa State defense and had the best game in Week 1 vs. Northern Iowa, finishing with nine tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, .5 sacks and three quarterback hurries. The Honorable Mention selection from 2018 will be asked to help stop the run and also used in pass coverage over the middle. He’ll be a busy man come Saturday afternoon.

 

Key Storylines

Iowa

The Hawkeyes need to have confidence in Nate Stanley and the passing game to win them this one. They certainly have plenty of it, but it’s always been a program that’s typically been built around the run to set up the pass. While they’re averaging over five yards per carry early in the season, that will come to an end against an Iowa State defense that is, and has been, outstanding against the run (gave up a Big 12-best 115 yards per game last season). The combination of Smith-Marsette, Brandon Smith, Tyrone Tracy and the rest of the options at wide receiver and tight end should try and find the seams in the Iowa State defense.

Iowa State

The Cyclones need to get their offensive line figured out. It was mediocre, at best, against Northern Iowa and now has to face an Iowa defensive line that includes the aforementioned A.J. Epensa and Chauncey Golston, a dynamic duo at defensive end, and maybe the best combo Iowa State will see this season. Also, Tom Manning, after a gap year in the NFL, did not have a great play calling day against Northern Iowa. Was he just trying to keep things very vanilla or is it something more? Saturday will be the real test.

Prediction

Iowa 21, Iowa State 17

The one thing Matt Campbell has yet to do during his spectacular rise in Ames is beat Iowa. Unfortunately, that streak will continue, as the Hawkeyes will get plenty of pressure on Brock Purdy and Iowa State’s unclear situation at running back will put pressure on Purdy to get the ball downfield against a secondary that has good experience coming back. Plus, the Hawkeyes have a pretty balanced attack that will do enough to get a win in a low-scoring (by college football standards), defensive battle.

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