Good Cop: Presley Polvere
After a pandemic season which led the Cyclones to a New Year’s Six Bowl and ultimately a Playstation Fiesta Bowl win, the team is back in action for the first time against the University of Northern Iowa Panthers.
Even though openers have been nail biters for the Cyclones in the past, I anticipate Iowa State taking full control early on. After their first game loss to the University of Louisiana Lafayette last year, the Cyclones went 8-1 to finish out their historic season.
First-game jitters, I suppose.
But a big plus for the team in 2021: a full Jack Trice Stadium with thousands of Cyclone fans for the first time since Nov. 23, 2019.
With months of preparation, a full strength Cyclone team has what it takes to defeat UNI, who went 3-4 in the Missouri Valley Conference in the spring since they did not play football last fall due to COVID-19.
Prediction : Iowa State 33, UNI 17
Bad Cop: Andrew Harrington
Iowa State may be ranked seventh in the preseason AP poll, but history is not on the team’s side during their season openers as of late.
The Cyclones have notoriously not played to the fan’s expectations in the season opener as Iowa State is 3-5 in those games since 2013.
Included in this record is an ugly recent history against Northern Iowa. Iowa State has a record of 3-2 against UNI in their last five meetings, most recently winning 29-26 in a triple overtime in 2019.
Despite a down year for Northern in its spring season, the team’s defense was still stellar, allowing just 15.3 points per game. I doubt that we will see the Iowa State offense, that is practically returning the same players from a year ago, steamroll the Panthers' defense.
On the flip side, the Northern Iowa offense did not meet the team’s expectations. With an experienced coach in Mark Farley and another year for players to progress, I would not be surprised if the offense is much improved this season.
The pressure to win big will affect the Cyclones early; however, after gaining some confidence, the team will pull within three at halftime. During the second half, the Cyclones will claim the lead after scoring a pair of touchdowns.
I expect the Panthers to score a touchdown in the final minute but fail to convert a potential game-tying two-point conversion attempt.
Prediction: Iowa State 31, UNI 29