Every week, the Iowa State Daily's Sam Stuve and Megan Teske break down Iowa State's upcoming game by playing "Good Cop/Bad Cop."
This week, Stuve and Teske will dissect Iowa State's much-anticipated season opener against Louisiana.
Good Cop: Megan Teske
I think Iowa State wins this one over Louisiana on Saturday, but it won’t be an easy win.
First off, 2020 is supposed to be Iowa State’s year.
The Cyclones are returning nine starters on defense and bring back JaQuan Bailey after a medical redshirt last season. On the offensive side, Iowa State has one of the best tight end rooms in the Big 12 and a receiving core that has gotten high praise from both Head Coach Matt Campbell and junior quarterback Brock Purdy, who also returns after a record-setting season last year.
Running back Breece Hall will also return after putting together quite the freshman season last year with 897 rushing yards, 10 touchdowns and 1,149 all-purpose yards.
Despite all this, Louisiana is not a team the Cyclones should overlook.
We know the shaky start Iowa State got off to last year against Northern Iowa, and Louisiana went 11-3 last year and finished the season with 38 points per game in the Sun Belt Conference.
The Ragin’ Cajuns return most of that high-scoring offense from last year, including quarterback Levi Lewis, who threw for 26 touchdowns last year and rushed for three more.
On defense, Louisiana allowed 19.7 points per game last year against Iowa State’s 32 points per game on the offensive side. The Ragin’ Cajuns led the Sun Belt in scoring defense last year and also return seven of their starters, so I don’t see Purdy throwing touchdown after touchdown like he did against the last Sun Belt team the Cyclones played last year, Louisiana Monroe.
As long as the Cyclone defense can hold down the fort on the defensive side of the ball and not let Lewis and company rack up too many scores, I have full confidence Purdy and the rest of the offense will be able to put this game away and give the Cyclones their first win Saturday.
Final score: Iowa State: 27; Louisiana: 24
Bad Cop: Sam Stuve
Iowa State comes into Saturday’s season opener against Louisiana looking to come out stronger than it did in the 2019 season opener.
Last season, it took Iowa State three overtimes to defeat the Northern Iowa Panthers 29-26 in the season opener.
While I do think Iowa State will win this game and is a better team this season, I’m expecting Louisiana to put up a fight in Saturday’s matchup.
With 2019 third team All-American and 2020 preseason All-Big 12 tight end Charlie Kolar and 2019 second team Coaches All-Big 12 players running back Breece Hall and quarterback Brock Purdy, Iowa State should be able to put up four touchdowns on Louisiana.
Louisiana returns seven starters on defense, so this won't be their first go around.
Iowa State's biggest question mark will be on the offensive line, as it only has three linemen — redshirt sophomore guard Trevor Downing, redshirt junior center Colin Newell and redshirt senior tackle Sean Foster — who have started multiple games.
The Ragin’ Cajuns offense should be able to nearly match the Cyclones’ offensive output.
The Cyclones return plenty of experience on the defensive side of the ball with nine starters returning.
The Ragin’ Cajuns return a lot of experience, including five offensive linemen that have started a full season, a pair of seniors at two of the receiver positions, two senior running backs and a senior quarterback.
Louisiana’s offense, which was a top 10 offense in the country last season en route to an 11-win season, features senior running backs Trey Ragas and Elijah Mitchell as well as Levi Lewis at quarterback.
Mitchell and Ragas have a combined 5,230 career rushing yards and 61 touchdowns, which is the most among returning running back duos in the country.
Lewis is one of two active football bowl subdivision quarterbacks, along with Ohio State’s Justin Fields, who threw for 3,000 yards, at least 25 touchdown passes and threw less than five interceptions a season ago. He is one of 15 to accomplish that in the last 20 seasons.
Lewis, Mitchell and Ragas should give Iowa State a bit of trouble, however Iowa State’s experienced defense led by 2020 preseason All-Big 12 players redshirt senior defensive back Greg Eisworth and redshirt senior defensive end JaQuan Bailey should prevent Louisiana’s offense from winning the game.
Iowa State is currently favored by 11.5 points, I’m predicting Louisiana will cover that.
I expect the Cyclones to squeak out a close victory against the Ragin’ Cajuns.
Final score: Iowa State: 28; Louisiana: 27