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Iowa State vs. TCU: Preview and Prediction

NCAA Football: Iowa State at Texas Christian

Here is everything you need to know about Saturday’s showdown between the Iowa State Cyclones and TCU Horned Frogs.

Game Info

11 a.m. Central Time, Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019, Jack Trice Stadium, Ames, Iowa

TV: ESPN2 (Roy Philpott, Kelly Stouffer, Lauren Sisler)

Radio: TCU: WBAP 820AM, Sirius 99, XM 207; Iowa State: Cyclone Radio Network/Learfield, Sirius 134/XM 200, Tunein

Opening line: Iowa State -2.5

 

Key players

TCU Horned Frogs

WR Jalen Reagor

If there is a game for the Horned Frogs to try and get Reagor to break out in the early season, this may be it. Reagor has had a quiet start to the season with 11 catches for 117 yards and one touchdown. He did have a big special teams play last week with a 73-yard punt return for a touchdown vs. Kansas, but he is there to make it happen for the offense. The quarterback situation thus far hasn’t made it easy on him, but with Iowa State having some cornerback issues, Reagor should get his opportunities.

DT Ross Blacklock

Blacklock missed all of the 2018 season with a leg injury, but he seems to have picked up mostly where he left off after a Freshman All-American season in 2017. Blacklock is tied for the TCU lead with 2.5 sacks. He also has 4.5 tackles for loss, with 2.5 of them coming last week in the big win over Kansas, while he also tied a season high with five tackles. If he continues to progress from injury like this, the rest of the Big 12 will have a tough time stopping him the rest of the season.

Iowa State

The offensive line

This is a broad unit and I usually like to keep it to a single player, but the Cyclones must get better play on the offensive line if they want to reach their goals of competing for a Big 12 Championship this season. Iowa State gave up three sacks last week against Baylor. To the Bears’ credit, they have some talent and speed on defense that wasn’t there in previous seasons, but the pressure Brock Purdy is consistently finding himself under is throwing off the entire offensive game plan. This needs to be fixed ASAP.

LB O’Rien Vance

There are plenty of others on the Iowa State defense who got most of the preseason love, but it’s Vance who finds himself as the early Big 12 leader with 5.5 sacks and is one of five players in the nation to have at least one sack in every game this season. He’s also top 5 in the conference in tackles for loss. He had two sacks last week in the loss at Baylor. Both numbers lead the team, while his 26 tackles rank 5th on the team.

 

Key storylines

TCU

The Horned Frogs would rather run the ball, but the Cyclones always have a great run defense and that is continuing this season, ranking third in the Big 12. Where Iowa State is vulnerable is in the secondary, specifically at cornerback, with sophomores Anthony Johnson and Datrone Young still working through some kinks and getting exposed at times. Baylor took advantage of this last week. Max Duggan is still just a true freshman at QB, but Sonny Cumbie needs to trust him to take some shots down the field to see if TCU can duplicate Baylor’s success.

Iowa State

I mentioned the offensive line woes above, so I won’t got there or mention the cornerbacks I just discussed. What Iowa State also needs is to find a rhythm for the running game. David Montgomery was a big loss to the NFL, but Iowa State has skilled players in the backfield, it’s just not always clear who Tom Manning wants to use and why. Brock Purdy has five more carries on the season than any other player on the roster. That can’t continue. Whether it’s Sheldon Croney, Johnnie Lang or Kene Nwangwu, picking one of these three as your work horse (at least for now), might help clean up some of the offensive consistencies thus far.

Prediction

TCU 24, Iowa State 23

I believe the key match ups in this game favor TCU. Also, the Cyclones have had their early-season woes and the team just seems a bit out of sorts by Matt Campbell standards. TCU appeared refocused after a stunning lost to SMU two weeks ago. The biggest concern for the Cyclones in this game is how they’re possibly going to slow down TCU’s front seven. Brock Purdy will once again be running for his life and while there might be another late-game comeback, it won’t be enough for the Cyclones at home.

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