Iowa State will face off against Northern Iowa, Iowa, Louisiana-Monroe and finally Big 12-opponent Baylor in the first four games of the 2019 season.
Not all games result in wins, and the scoreboard doesn’t always indicate a successful game for a team. Here is a best-case and a worst-case scenario for each of Iowa State’s first four games.
Northern Iowa (Home)
Date: Aug. 31
The Cyclones will take on in-state team UNI for the first time since 2017.
Iowa State coach Matt Campbell is 1-1 against the Panthers during the tenure after falling to them in his first season and beating them the next season 42-24.
UNI went 7-6 last season and lost to Iowa 38-15 in Iowa City, Iowa. The Panthers will be replacing their quarterback and top running back from last season. With their record from last season and their new players on offense, there isn’t a scenario were the to Cyclones lose this game.
The worst-case scenario: Iowa State has turnovers early, leading to a close game in the first half, but halftime adjustments lead to a decisive second-half victory.
The best-case scenario: Iowa State offense scores early and often and the defense smothers the Panther offense, which will give the starters time to rest and stay healthy for next week's game.
Date: Sept. 14
Campbell has yet to defeat rival Iowa in the annual Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Game; the last time the Hawkeyes visited Jack Trice Stadium, they won 44-41 in overtime. The Hawkeyes won 13-3 last season in their home stadium in a game which was the Cyclones’ worst offensive performance of last season.
Iowa returns starting quarterback Nate Stanley, who passed for 219 yards a game last season and a total of 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, but they lose their top three receivers in tight ends TJ Hockenson and Noah Fant, and wide receiver Nick Easley.
Despite losing Hockenson, Fant and Easley, the focal point of the Iowa offense has always been running the ball. Toren Young and Mekhi Sargent, who combined for 1,435 yards and 14 touchdowns, will be back.
The Iowa defense also returns AJ Epenesa, who led the Big Ten in sack and ranked 12th in the country with 10.5. The Iowa defense only allowed 109.5 rushing yards and 184 passing yards a game last season.
Iowa State was the best rushing defense in the Big 12 last season and the best in scoring defense. This year's Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk game will be decided by each teams’ defense.
In the worst-case scenario, Iowa State’s defense keeps the Cyclones close, but the offense is unable to find any success much like last year's game. If the offense can’t find the end zone or a first down, the Cyclones will lose another close but not-so-close game.
In the best-case scenario, the Cyclones' offense is able to generate a handful of productive drives against a stout Iowa defense. They may not all result in touchdowns, but in this rivalry, it's not uncommon for the game to come down to one score or field goal, so every score counts. With those drives, Iowa State wins by a touchdown against their in-state rival.
Date: Sept. 21
Louisiana-Monroe went 6-6 last season playing in the Sunbelt Conference and lost to Ole Miss and Texas A&M by a combined 118-31.
In both scenarios, Iowa State wins this game handedly; best-case scenario, the Cyclones are able to use this week to get their starters healthy before the Big 12 regular season starts.
Date: Sept. 28
Though Iowa State is 6-9 all-time against Baylor, the Cyclones are 2-1 against the Bears during Campbell’s tenure.
The Cyclones beat quarterback Corey Brewer, who was ejected, last season 28-14. Brewer has established himself as top starting quarterback in the Big 12 and will return as the second best quarterback in passing yards a game, with over 232 yards a game, which only ranks behind Texas’ Sam Ehlinger. Brewer also passed for 19 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
Despite good quarterback play from Brewer, he went 7-6 last season in coach Matt Rhule’s second season, but saw drastic improvement from the 1-11 record the previous year.
Baylor was held back in the conference by the second most fumbles, being the third most-penalized team, and tied with Kansas as the worst team at converting trips into the red zone into points. The team also ranked in the bottom third of the conference in points allowed.
Against Baylor, the best-case scenario for the Cyclones is the Bears’ weaknesses and pitfalls continuing to plague them while the defense is able to minimize the amount of big plays from Brewer by keeping him in the pocket and forcing quick and short throws. In this scenario, the Cyclones win by a couple touchdowns, which will lead to a comfortable lead late in the game.
In the worst-case scenario, Baylor and Brewer avoid turnovers and an excessive amount of penalties to keep offensive drives alive. In doing so, Brewer can find a rhythm and carve up Iowa State’s defense. Baylor’s home-field advantage helps elevate the Bears past the Cyclones in Rhule’s third season and hand the Cyclones their second loss of the season.
Best-case scenario record: 4-0
Worst-case scenario record: 2-2