When Iowa State hosts Chattanooga Saturday night, it'll be a tale of two wrestling programs headed in different directions.
The Cyclones are a fringe top-10 team in the nation; the Mocs are under .500 in seven duals and have just one ranked wrestler.
Still, assistant head coach Derek St. John isn't taking the program in Tennessee lightly. Especially after what transpired over the weekend.
"We got a little dose of reality, some good, some not so good," St. John said. "Anytime a team comes in here, they're looking to kick your butt. I'm anticipating Chattanooga to show up."
After a sixth place at the prestigious Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational, Iowa State will look to get back to its winning ways in the dual season against Chattanooga inside Hilton Coliseum at 7 p.m.
In their first dual since a 29-6 defeat at the hands of the top-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes, the 11th-ranked Cyclones may have a different lineup from the first two duals of the season.
Returning All-American and 10th-ranked Jarrett Degen went 3-0 in the first day in Vegas, but suffered an injury and did not wrestle on day two, ending in a sixth place finish.
St. John wasn't 100 percent sure whether the redshirt junior will don the red and gold singlet for the first night dual of the season.
"We're kind of protecting that," St. John said. "If it was his choice, he'd be ready to go. I don't think you'll see Jarrett Degen this weekend, it'll be a game-time decision."
If Degen is unavailable, the only other 149 pounder on the roster is Ryan Leisure, a redshirt sophomore from Clear Lake, Iowa.
The opponent for either of them might be a newly ranked wrestler by FloWrestling.
Tanner Smith jumped into the top-25 by garnering the 23rd spot at 149. He is 3-1 on the year, with two bonus point victories. His only loss is to the Hawkeyes' Pat Lugo.
Smith, the SoCon Freshman of the year a season ago, went to the NCAA's after a runner-up at the conference championships, going 1-2.
"Up and down the lineup, you got to get ready for the next thing in front of you," St. John said. "Get ready to compete."
Chattanooga is near the end of the tunnel that is a grueling part of its non-conference dual slate.
Over the last month, the Mocs have faced two ranked teams – Iowa and North Carolina – then after the dual in Ames, they have a week break before traveling to Blacksburg to face Virginia Tech.
Iowa is the only common opponent between the two programs, where the Hawkeyes tossed a shutout over Chattanooga 39-0.
This the final dual of the 2019 calendar year. On the first day of 2020, Iowa State will wrestle in the Southern Scuffle tournament, hosted by the Mocs. Its first Big 12 dual will be on the road against Utah Valley.