In a battle for supremacy and bragging rights in the state of Iowa, the Iowa State Cyclones host the Iowa Hawkeyes on September 11 at 2:30 Central Time. Last season, Iowa State posted a 9-3 record and a Fiesta Bowl win, while Iowa went 6-2 in an abbreviated Big 10 schedule. The Hawkeyes defeated 17th ranked Indiana in their 2021 opener by an impressive 34-6 score. The Cyclones also put a notch in the win column in their first game, taking down Northern Iowa, 16-10. Iowa State enters as a 4 ½ -point home favorite.
Brock Purdy leads the Cyclones attack. He showed his poise and accuracy last week, completing 21 of 26 passes for 199 yards and no interceptions. Xavier Hutchinson was his top target, connecting with him seven times for 88 yards. To compliment the passing attack is running back Breece Hall, who put in a workmanlike effort of 23 carries for 69 yards and a touchdown in the opener. Defensively, the Cyclones were stingy, recording two sacks and intercepting two passes.
Iowa quarterback Spencer Petras managed the game nicely against Indiana, despite relatively poor numbers of 13-for-27 passing for a mere 145 yards. Tight end Sam LaPorta was the top target, making five key receptions for 83 yards. Running back Tyler Goodson is the star of the Hawkeyes offense, rushing for 99 yards and a score, averaging over five yards per carry. On the defensive side of the ball, Riley Moss singlehandedly defeated the Hoosiers, intercepting two passes, both returned for touchdowns.
The big storyline for the Hawkeyes is the play of Spencer Petras. He continues to record wins despite putting up pedestrian numbers. His win streak is up to seven, but he faces his toughest test this week against the Cyclones. His receiving group has dwindled from last year and will have to rely on LaPorta. The key to Petras success is taking care of the football, which could be daunting against a tough Iowa State defense.
For the Cyclones to have ultimate success, they must control both sides of the line of scrimmage. After losing three players along the defensive front, including top performers Chuancey Golston and Daviyon Nixon, the coaching staff has their work cut out for them. There is some hope in youngsters Yahya Blakc and Zach VanValkenburg. Winning the battle up front is imperative, which would create pressure on Petras defensively and open holes for Hall offensively.
Should the game come down to special teams, both teams showed consistency in week one. For the Hawkeyes Caleb Shudak converted all four extra point attempts and two field goals, one from over 40 yards. For the Cyclones, Connor Assalley and Andrew Mevis made a combined three field goals in as many attempts.
Iowa leads the series 45 wins to 22 and is currently on a five-game winning streak in the series. This will be a typical, grind it out, hard-fought battle. The Cyclones are more experienced and have their best chance to come away with the victory than they’ve had in many years. The offense is more balanced and the defense will make Petras do what he really hasn’t shown he can do, beat a good team in the air.