Well, it’s Cy-Hawk week. My least favorite week of the season.
I know, it’s almost blasphemy to have that opinion. I love the pomp and circumstance, the passion from each fan bases and the parties that come with the game. But it’s a nerve wracking week for hardcore fans.
Neither fan base wants to lose the game. Both are confident in their teams. And as we get closer to Saturday, the confidence grows.
RVTV will make its way through towns close to Ames this year, starting with Polk City on Monday. The small town of Ellsworth also is on the path for the guys and gals at Channel 13.
But an added twist this season is that ESPN’s College Gameday is coming to Ames for the first time.
That announcement has made Cyclone fans and the university feel like they have arrived. And maybe that’s what it means.
I personally rarely watch the show. It’s pretty cool though that ESPN is coming to Central Iowa to give this game even more hype.
The Hawkeyes have won four in a row in the series and Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell is winless against the team out East.
Breaking down this game, your guess is as good as mine as to who will win. I think Iowa has more talent top to bottom and the Hawkeyes have played better in their two games than Iowa State played in its only game against Northern Iowa.
The Hawks had little trouble with Rutgers and Miami University while Iowa State needed triple overtime to defeat Northern Iowa.
I am going to attempt to break it down by position.
At quarterback, both teams have standout players. Nate Stanley is 2-0 against the Cyclones and threw five touchdowns in his only other game in Ames. Brock Purdy is making his first start in the rivalry. Advantage (on paper): Iowa.
Both programs will use plenty of running backs. Iowa State doesn’t have a clear starter yet and Iowa will go heavy with Mekhi Sargent and Toren Young. I don’t think either team has a clear advantage here but the Hawks have averaged 5.1 yards per carry through two games while Iowa State averaged 4.1 against the Panthers.
For the first time in maybe 10 years, Iowa has the advantage at wide receiver. Stanley has hit around eight different guys the first two games. They have five legitimate wide receivers, while Iowa State used Deshaunte Jones for 14 of Purdy’s 30 completions in their only game. Iowa State will have to have more options against the Hawkeyes.
I will say Iowa State might have better, more experienced tight ends at this point though.
When comparing offensive lines, this slants heavily toward the Hawkeyes. Tristan Wirfs is a future NFL first-round draft pick and Tyler Linderbaum is a freshman who has a bright future. I’m not sure any of Iowa State’s offensive linemen would start in Iowa City.
The defensive line is much more even. Iowa has A.J. Epenesa, who is better than anyone else, but Iowa State has really good talent in Ray Lima and JaQuan Bailey. This is another push for me.
The linebackers are even, too. Mike Rose, O’Rien Vance and Marcel Spears are great at Iowa State, but Iowa’s trio of Kristian Welch, Djimon Colbert and Nick Niemann also are fantastic.
Both teams have outstanding safeties. Geno Stone at Iowa and Greg Eisworth at Iowa State could be the most important players to each team’s defense. But Iowa State is a lot less experienced with Braxton Lewis and company than Iowa is with Michael Ojemudia and Matt Hankins.
Iowa is banged up in the secondary, but they played outstanding in the Rutgers game. Some Cyclone fans were not happy with the secondary for Iowa State against UNI. Give me the Hawkeyes in this matchup.
The team that owns the line of scrimmage will probably win this game. The key matchup is Linderbaum vs. Lima. It’s a good early-season test for Iowa’s redshirt freshman. Lima is outstanding.
If Iowa runs for 150 yards, I think the Hawkeyes win. If Iowa State’s defense can turn over the Hawkeyes multiple times, I think the Cyclones win.
My prediction: Iowa keeps the Cy-Hawk trophy for a fifth straight season, winning 26-17 over the Cyclones in Ames.
Contact Troy Hyde at email@example.com