Iowa State’s win on the road against West Virginia last weekend marked the midway point of the regular season. The Cyclones bumped their record up to 4-2, extending their win streak to two games.
Before the season, Twitter buzzed with Iowa State fans hoping for a potential trip to Arlington, Texas, for the Big 12 Championship in December. With a loss to Baylor and a schedule with Texas and Oklahoma still on it, some fans and analysts lowered their expectations for Iowa State.
With six conference games left, I’ll run through each game and reveal my prediction and where I see the Cyclones sitting in the Big 12 when November concludes.
Oct. 19: at Texas Tech
Entering the season, Texas Tech was my sleeper team for the conference. Unfortunately for the Red Raiders and my prediction, Texas Tech’s quarterback Alan Bowman dealt with an injury in September that sidelined him for the month, and he’ll miss the Iowa State game and probably the rest of October, too.
Despite the loss, Tech has rebounded nicely, knocking off a solid Oklahoma State team and beating Baylor (before being robbed by an officiating blunder).
With the game happening on the road, I don't think you can pencil it in as an automatic win, but I think Iowa State is strong enough to leave Lubbock, Texas, with a win. Plus, it’s an October game.
Oct. 26: vs. Oklahoma State (Homecoming)
Before diving into my pick, I suggest Iowa State fans watch or record Oklahoma State’s game with Baylor this weekend because I think we’ll get a better idea of how good the Cowboys are.
With that said, I think Oklahoma State is above average this year. They lost a six-point game at Texas and a 10-point game to Tech. It’s also worth remembering that the Cowboys were the first to see firsthand how good of a quarterback Brock Purdy was last season.
Despite Purdy and the offense’s 48 points last year, coach Mike Gundy and the Cowboys tacked on 42 of their own points.
I’m excited to see the matchup between Iowa State’s defense and the Cowboy's running back Chuba Hubbard. I think Hubbard will get enough going on the ground with heavy usage, and Spencer Sanders will add enough through the air for Oklahoma State to spoil homecoming and sneak out of Ames with a win.
Nov. 9: at Oklahoma
The schedule breaks favorably for Iowa State, providing a bye week before facing the top team in the Big 12 — Oklahoma.
Off the bye and on the road, I expect the Cyclones to give the Sooners everything they can handle in Norman. I think Jalen Hurts will struggle more than we’ve seen so far this season (which hasn’t been much), but Oklahoma will find a way to edge out Iowa State in a single-digit game.
Nov. 16: vs. Texas
With Texas returning to Ames for the first time since Jacob Park’s final start, Iowa State is in for another tough game with the Longhorns.
After two losses based on my predictions, I think Iowa State will jump back into the win column at home. Neither team has broken 30 points in their meetings since 2014, and I expect a cold, defensive battle that Iowa State will outlast for the win.
Nov. 23: vs. Kansas
I won’t take too long on this one. Kansas is a little better this year, but they're still not good.
Iowa State is 8-1 this decade against Kansas, and the Cyclones will close the decade 9-1.
Nov. 30: at Kansas State
If you’re an Iowa State fan who feels comfortable going into this game, then you haven’t been an Iowa State fan for very long. Bill Snyder’s gone, but this game feels primed for something weird to happen that will leave a bad taste in Iowa State’s mouth to close the year.
Kansas State seems like a team that always improves as the season progresses, but the Wildcats have some work to do after starting conference play 0-2. Kansas State did everything but win last year's matchup, holding a 38-21 lead in the fourth quarter at one point before the Cyclones rattled off 21 points.
I expect Kansas State to rattle the Cyclones early on, making the halftime score tight, but I think this year Iowa State will pull away more quickly and close conference play on a high note.
My guesses put Iowa State at 6-3 in conference. Looking at the last two seasons, an 8-1 team and a 7-2 team played in the conference championship, and I assume it will play out in a similar fashion this year.
While I don’t have Iowa State as a top-two team, I wouldn’t be surprised if they knock off Oklahoma State or even Oklahoma, too. On the flip side, the Texas game will likely be a primetime game that will come down to the wire.
If Iowa State wins the games they're supposed to, the Cyclones will be in the running at the end — but the Big 12 is a tough conference and it’ll be a battle to make it to Texas.