Every week, the Iowa State Daily's Sam Stuve will deliver the good news for Iowa State football fans as "Good Cop" and Jack Shover will play devil's advocate as "Bad Cop."
This week, Stuve and Shover will dissect Iowa State's much anticipated game against in-state rival Iowa.
Two things can happen to a team after they play a game like Iowa State played against the Northern Iowa Panthers. One is they begin to question their abilities, and the other is that the game can be used as more motivation and lead to more success.
I believe the latter will happen, and besides, just barely beating Northern Iowa isn’t such a bad thing. When you look back at the Division I teams that Northern Iowa has played against in the last ten years, you’ll see that they’ve played very tough against good opponents.
For instance, in 2009, the Iowa Hawkeyes needed to block two field goals to beat the Panthers by one point. That Iowa team went on to go 11-2 (6-2 Big Ten), won the Orange Bowl and finished in the top 10 at the end of the season.
In 2011, Iowa State and Northern Iowa played a very similar game to the one we saw this season, with Iowa State winning by one point. That Iowa State pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the history of college football when they beat the second-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys to become bowl eligible.
However, winning a close game against Northern Iowa doesn’t mean that Iowa State is a great team and it certainly has its work cut out for them this weekend against Iowa.
It should be a good game for the Cyclones defensively because Iowa State is talented defensively, and the Hawkeyes skill players will have difficulty against the Cyclones’ skill players, but the Hawkeyes offensive line will be able to create enough running lanes and give quarterback Nate Stanley enough time to throw. That’ll allow Iowa to be able to put at least 20 points on the board.
How well Iowa State’s offense plays will decide the game. Iowa is an excellent team defensively and Iowa State saw that last season. If Iowa State faces third down and at least seven a lot against Iowa, then Iowa will win the game by 10 points or more.
Iowa State needs to have productive plays on first down to beat Iowa.
I believe that Iowa State’s offensive line will be better this weekend than it was against Northern Iowa and Iowa State has enough offensive playmakers that they should be able to score a couple of touchdowns. Iowa State wins on a game-winning field goal.
Prediction: Iowa State 23, Iowa 20
Worst-case scenario, Iowa State gets absolutely embarrassed in Matt Campbell’s fourth Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Game.
Iowa State didn’t look sharp at all in the team's opening game against Northern Iowa and the Hawkeyes' defensive line — led by A.J. Epenesa — is much better than the Panthers’ linemen.
Epenesa was one of the best defensive linemen in the nation last season and registered 10.5 sacks. This season, Epenesa has only one sack, but he is getting more attention in the blocking game by opposing offenses.
If the Cyclones want to execute in both the running game and passing game, they will have to give extra attention to Epenesa, otherwise he will have a field day teeing off on Cyclone quarterback Brock Purdy and whatever running back finds himself in the backfield.
Like against UNI, Iowa State’s offense won’t be able to stay on the field and sustain drives.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Hawkeyes have an experienced signal caller in senior Nate Stanely. As good as Iowa State’s defense is this season, Stanely has faced as good, or even better, defenses in his three seasons playing in the Big 10.
As scary as a Greg Eisworth, Ray Lima and Marcel Spears Jr., among others, led defense is, teams like the 2017 Ohio State Buckeyes with a Denzel Ward, Nick Bosa and Jordan Fuller defense is a lot more intimidating.
Stanely has played against big time defenses and also beaten Iowa State before, which seems to be a recipe for success against the Cyclones on Saturday.
Prediction: Iowa 34, Iowa State 13