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College Sports

Iowa State plays instate rival in what becomes opener

Some things to watch in the Big 12 Conference during Week 2 of the season:

Game of the Week

Iowa State at Iowa. In what technically becomes their season opener, the Cyclones play at Iowa (1-0) in the Cy-Hawk Series. The instate rivals, who have met annually since 1977, have evenly split their last 20 games — winning 10 each. Iowa State only played about 5 minutes of its home game against South Dakota State last weekend before a 2 1/2-hour delay for bad weather that eventually led to the game being canceled.

It was the first Iowa State game canceled since 1963, which was after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

After playing the Big Ten Hawkeyes, the Cyclones have their Big 12 opener at home against No. 6 Oklahoma, the three-time defending league champion they upset in Norman last year.

Best Matchup

Kansas State defense vs. Mississippi State dual-threat quarterback Nick Fitzgerald. K-State has been one of the nation’s top rushing defenses in the nation each of the past two seasons — only three other teams ranked top 15 nationally each of those years.

The Wildcats got off to a solid start this season, holding South Dakota to 77 yards on 21 carries.

Fitzgerald didn’t play the Bulldogs opener while suspended for a violation of unspecified team rules, but will start Saturday. He’s got 14 career 100-yard rushing games and is only 36 yards shy of passing former Bulldogs standout Dak Prescott (2,521 yards) for the third-most career rushing yards by an SEC quarterback.

Inside the Numbers

The Big 12 had six 100-yard rushers the first week. Oklahoma State and Baylor each had two of them. ... UCLA, which plays at Oklahoma, has lost its last 10 true road games. ... Sooners coach Lincoln Riley turned 35 on Wednesday. He is the second-youngest FBS head coach; Kent State’s Sean Lewis is 32. ... Baylor receiver Denzel Mims has two or more catches in 13 consecutive games. He had a 20-yard TD catch when the Bears lost 17-10 last September to UTSA, where they play Saturday. ... Two TCU true freshman receivers (Taye Barber and Derius Davis) had TD catches in their college debuts.

Long Shot

Bo Pelini getting another win in the Big 12. Pelini is now coach for his hometown Youngstown State Penguins, who play at No. 14 West Virginia.

The Mountaineers opened with a 40-14 win over Tennessee. Pelini was Nebraska’s coach for the Cornhuskers’ final three Big 12 seasons from 2008-10. They were 29-12 overall and 17-7 in Big 12 play, winning or sharing the league’s North Division title each of those seasons.

Youngstown State missed the playoffs last year and lost its 2018 opener to Butler.

Player to Watch

Oklahoma State quarterback Taylor Cornelius, a fifth-year senior who spent most of his career as a backup to Mason Rudolph, threw for 300 yards and five touchdowns against Missouri State in his first career start.

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