Iowa State Cyclones

Four Thoughts on Iowa State’s 20-13 Loss to Iowa

Sep 9, 2023; Ames, Iowa, USA; Iowa State Cyclones quarterback Rocco Becht (3) throws a pass against the Iowa Hawkeyes during the first quarter at Jack Trice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

After a great opening weekend of Big 12 football, the conference yet again had a great slate of games in week Two. While the Texas/Alabama game may steal the national headlines, we had a big rivalry game in the great state of Iowa. The Cy-Hawk game is played between Iowa and Iowa State every year, and this is the 70th meeting between these two schools.

Both teams entered Saturday at 1-0 as Iowa has won five straight in Ames dating back to 2013. Anytime these two programs meet, it is always going to be a fun one as six of the last eleven games have been decided by three points or less. Unfortunately for the Cyclones, they fell short once again at home against the Hawkeyes. Here are my four thoughts on Iowa State’s 20-13 loss to Iowa.

 

The Defense Played Good Enough to Win

I know that Iowa’s offense is no juggernaut by any means, but Iowa State’s defense had a solid game. They held the Hawkeyes to 235 yards and just 122 of them came on the ground. Iowa came into this game wanting to control it and I felt like Iowa State took that away from them a bit. While the scoreboard may say 20 for Iowa, the defense actually only gave up 13 of those points because six of them came off of a turnover by the offense. There has been plenty of complaints about Iowa State since last season, but nobody should be pointing any fingers or blaming this defense. Jon Heacock is one of the best defensive minds in college football and as long as he is in Ames, Iowa State’s defense will be good.

Iowa Won the Special Teams Battle

As much as I don’t like giving credit to Iowa, I will say that they are tremendous on special teams. From punting to punt coverage, kickoff coverage and field goals, they do things the right way. Meanwhile, that is an area where Iowa State has struggled over the years. Despite looking good last week, I thought Iowa State lost the special teams battle by a mile. It started off with a blocked field goal on the opening drive and then Jaylin Noel made a couple of mistakes on returns. Every yard matters in a game like this and the Cyclones came out on the wrong end of the battle.

 

The Offense Still Needs Work

After the opening drive of the game (outside of the blocked field goal) I felt good about Iowa State’s offense. Rocco Becht marched them right down the field and converted several third downs in the process. However, the next five drives for Iowa State were disastrous. They had four consecutive drives that lasted less than five plays and then the next drive ended up being an ugly pick six from Becht that put Iowa up 17-0. Somehow, the offense woke up on the final drive of the first half and managed to get three points out of it.

The offense went scoreless in the third quarter before putting together back-to-back scoring drives. Iowa State got three points thanks to a Chase Contreraz 46-yard field goal before finally getting into the end zone for the first time in the game. The offense capped off a long 14 play drive with a touchdown pass from Rocco Becht to Jayden Higgins to pull the Cyclones withing a score. But on their final drive, they ran the ball on fourth and short and got stuffed.

The offense had their moments but overall, I want to see more from them. The offensive line wasn’t great, and they couldn’t run the football at all as they averaged a measly 2.8 yards per carry. On top of that, there were way too many drops from receivers. Maybe things will get better throughout the season but there are still plenty of things to work on offensively. If they can’t get any better than it is going to be another long season in Ames.

 

Clock Management

When Iowa State was down by 14 points, the offense took their sweet time on that long touchdown drive. It took nearly seven full minutes off the clock and when they finally scored there was less than three minutes to play. While it was nice to see them find the end zone for the first time all game, it shouldn’t have taken that long. There was no sense of urgency on that drive whatsoever and it left me scratching my head. Maybe it wouldn’t have mattered in the long run but maybe it could have given the offense and extra possession later in the game.

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