Iowa State 24, Northern Iowa 13
This may seem like too close of a game, but Iowa State’s offense started off slow last season and 11 points is still a significant margin to end a football game. Simply speaking, Iowa State is a better football team than Northern Iowa and this game will show that. Look for a slow start for the Cyclones if they struggle to find consistency in the run game and fail to find a reliable option among the receivers, but their defense and overall talent should prevail. Special teams was a negative last season for Iowa State, so if that hasn’t been shored up then that might be the key to a Panthers upset. I see it as a slow game with not much offense, but I don’t think the Cyclones make too big of a mistake to cost them the game against quarterback and old friend Will McElvain and the Panthers. Iowa State takes this one.
Iowa State 34, UNI/Northern Iowa 14
On paper, this should be simple. Iowa State is a good Big 12 team, and Northern Iowa is a decent-to-good FCS team. Obviously, college football is never that simple, and I would expect that early on in this game the Panthers will make Iowa State sweat a little bit.
Campbell’s charges have come a long, long way from the team that lost to the Panthers, and I don’t see them making the mistakes necessary to give UNI a lifeline in this one. The second half will consist of the Cyclone defense shutting down former Iowa State walk-on commit Will McElvain and Iowa State enters the incoming bye week without any disastrous outcomes.
Iowa State 27 - Northern Iowa 10
In terms of season openers, Northern Iowa is exactly who Iowa State needs to see to begin their season.
Matt Campbell has talked all preseason about wanting to put his players in high leverage situations against real competition to see what this team really has.
Northern Iowa fits that bill.
UNI is experienced on both sides of the ball, with the Panthers returning 16 starters from last year's FCS Playoff team, eight from each side of the ball.
However, they lost their three year starter at quarterback in Eli Dunneand will put redshirt freshman Will McElvain in his first career start against Iowa State on Saturday.
What a tough way to begin your college career.
Iowa State’s defense is going to make it very tough McElvain from the first snap to the last.
The defense will likely get the true freshman to commit a turnover or two, putting Brock Purdy and the rest of the offense in great position to score.
The offense will take a series or two to get in rhythm but Manning will be sure to spread the ball around to get his second year quarterback more comfortable.
Iowa State 202 — Northern Iowa 21
I think this is a pretty obvious pick. Iowa State has some strong players and though Northern Iowa will put up a solid fight, the preseason efforts of Iowa State will ultimately win out in the end. I’ve also never seen a panther win in a fight against a cyclone in the real world, so that’s something to chew on.