Iowa football look ahead: Into the Cyclones

Iowa State has interesting skill players, on the look out for defense

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Second in a 12-part series on the opponents the Iowa Hawkeyes will face during the 2017 season.

Iowa State coach Matt Campbell is young, but he’s grounded.

This is year two for him at Iowa State. They Cyclones finished 2016 with wins in two of their final three games, including a 66-10 head slap over Texas Tech. The finish put wind into the program’s sails. Campbell isn’t making T-shirts yet.

The finish put some shine on a 3-9 campaign and Campbell is kind of leaving it at that. His message going into this season is grounded and realistic.

“I don’t even know if I can define (what this group will be) yet, but what it is that will help separate us somewhere down the line is it’s being a true team and that trust that everybody has in each other. It’s easy to sit up here and say that word trust.

“It’s really hard to have and really hard to embody and I think this group has at least the starting point of that.”

The Cyclones return much of their offense. The defense will be a work in progress. The fact that Joel Lanning went from quarterback to No. 1 middle linebacker when fall camp started punctuates where ISU starts on defense.

Can year two of Campbell culture give Iowa State a bounce in 2017?

The stakes for the Hawkeyes: It depends how you look at this.

Iowa has shown it can lose to Iowa State and still have an amazing season. Just check 2002, when the Cyclones pulled off a shocking comeback in Kinnick Stadium and Iowa still went 8-0 in the Big Ten, played in the Orange Bowl and won 11 games.

Iowa hasn’t shown that all that often, however, and 2002 is now officially a long time ago.

There’s also a growing portion of Iowa fandom that completely rejects this game because 1) the “everything to lose, nothing to gain” mentality and 2) they want the series to end, forever, permanent like.

That’s not happening, at least not until 2023 and probably not then. Iowa athletics director Gary Barta and ISU athletics director Jamie Pollard signed off on that extension last year.

Look ahead, Week 1: Cowboys and a quarterback coming to Kinnick

Last fall, after Wisconsin beat LSU at Lambeau Field, Barta said he was interested in a Labor Day extravaganza for the Hawkeyes. The current game contract between the schools calls for a $1 million payment if one school wants to take a break from the series. The schools couldn’t agree and so Iowa will now pay $1.4 million for Middle Tennessee State (a game that probably will challenge Iowa more than it wants) for a home game in 2019.

For both schools, no matter how cool their seasons end up being, a loss to the instate rival is a blemish that will always leave them wincing.

No one likes a comfortable rivalry, do they?

Jacob Park’s awesome adventure: The Iowa State quarterback will turn 22 this season. He’s a redshirt junior. He was a 4-star recruit and played in the 2013 U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

He began his career at Georgia in 2014 and transferred after a season. From there, he went to Trident Technical College in South Carolina. Sounds logical, but Trident doesn’t have a football team. So, Park played in a church flag football league with some friends. He left and spent a semester at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M. He didn’t play football there, either.

He found a home in Ames last year, splitting time with Lanning early in the season before becoming ISU’s primary QB for the final five games.

He and his girlfriend had a child this summer. This is not your normal college football resume, but here is Park, ready, willing and kind of needing to make a big leap on the field.

Cyclones and skills: The surface has barely been scratched with Park, but you all know about senior wide receiver Allen Lazard. The 6-5, 230-pounder caught 69 passes last year (second-best season in school history) for 1,018 yards (fourth receiver in ISU history to record a 1,000-yard season) and seven TD catches.

Running backs David Montgomery and Mike Warren rushed for more than 500 yards last year.

Cyclones and defense: We’ve been over the fact that ISU has a quarterback playing linebacker. Lanning is a terrific athlete (rushed for more than 500 yards last season), but there will be transition in mindset.

Lanning is a conversation starter. There’s a lot more to this: The Cyclones are replacing a lot of bodies on the D-line with J.D. Waggoner and Vernell Trent as lone returners with experience.

The Cyclones have a ton of experience in the secondary, with safety Kamari Cotton-Moya (two picks last year) leading that charge.

The trick for ISU will be getting Iowa in passing situations. Iowa will want to run the ball 40-plus times and, frankly, if it does, this is going to be a short game and Iowa will have three consecutive victories at Jack Trice Stadium.

Hawkeyes Look Ahead

Sept. 9 at Iowa State

Time: 11 a.m.

TV: ESPN/ESPN2

Week before: Wyoming and QB Josh Allen

Week after: vs. North Texas, Sept. 16

On the horizon: vs. Penn State, Sept. 23

Iowa State Cyclones

Coach: Matt Campbell (3-9, second season at Iowa State)

Depth chart

2016 record: 3-9, 9th in the Big 12

Scoring offense: 27.7 points per game (9th in Big 12, 71st nationally)

Total offense: 421.6 yards per game (8th Big 12, 60th nationally)

Scoring defense: 31.3 points allowed per game (8th Big 12, T-86th nationally)

Total defense: 459.9 yards allowed per game (8th Big 12, 102nd nationally)

Series: Hawkeyes lead 42-22

Last meeting: Iowa won 42-3 in a night game at Kinnick Stadium last season. Wide receiver Matt VandeBerg caught seven passes for 129 yards and a TD. He also proposed to his girlfriend, Laura, after the game and caught a yes. The two were married this summer. Iowa was ranked No. 10 at the time. The Hawkeyes scored four touchdowns in their first five drives, including three TD passes from QB C.J. Beathard. It was the biggest victory in the series since Iowa won 63-20 at Ames in 1997. Iowa also rushed for 198 yards and two TDs.

l Comments: (319) 398-8256; marc.morehouse@thegazette.com

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