116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Ames — A closer look at Saturday’s Iowa-Iowa State football game:
Iowa State offense
It’s no secret Iowa State had a subpar game against Northern Iowa last Saturday and it’ll need to be better against Iowa.
One reason for optimism is All America tight end Charlie Kolar is expected to be back after missing last week due to injury.
“We were all used to Charlie being a big part of our offense, so certainly that was a challenge,” offensive coordinator Tom Manning said. “We still felt like we were able to get into some multiple tight end things but we look forward to Charlie continuing to get healthy so he can help our offense.”
UNI stacked the box against Iowa State to stop the run, but with a healthy Kolar, it makes stacking the box a bit more of a risk.
Iowa’s going to do what Iowa always does. It’s going to run the ball first and it’ll do some play-action passes when it needs to.
It’s a tried and true formula that keeps defenses on the field and wears them down.
“We know when you play these guys, they’re going to run the football,” Iowa State Coach Matt Campbell said. “Tyler (Goodson) has shown the ability to make big runs. He’s a great finisher of runs — he had a big one early in the game last week. He has great vision. What do great backs have? They have great vision and he does have that.
“He has a veteran offensive line with (Tyler) Linderbaum in the middle. That allows them to do what they do best, and that’s create movement at the line of scrimmage and create vertical run seams. Goodson has a great ability to find those.”
Iowa State defense
The Cyclones have yet to force a turnover against Iowa in the Campbell era. For a team, as Campbell likes to say, that needs to win in the margins, it’s no wonder Iowa State hasn’t beaten Iowa under this coach.
The Cyclones forced two turnovers against UNI last week and defensive coordinator Jon Heacock said forcing turnovers was a point of emphasis throughout fall camp.
“Hopefully the players see the value in those drills,” Heacock said. “Hopefully the turnovers start coming in bunches.”
Mike Rose led all linebackers in interceptions last season but a missed interception in 2019 still haunts him.
“Forcing turnovers is a huge emphasis,” Rose said. “We’ve talked about that a lot this week. Iowa does a great job of doing their thing. They make teams beat themselves. It’s something they’re really, really good at. They’ve done the same thing for a while now. The fact we haven’t forced a turnover against them is a mind-boggling stat because the turnover margin is what wins games
“We need to get hands on balls. We’ve had opportunities, in 2019 I dropped an interception, which still hurts. There will be opportunities, we just have to capitalize on them.”
Much like the Iowa offense, the defense isn’t going to stray far from what it does.
“They’re extremely well coached across the board and have been for a really, really long time,” Manning said. “Not only are they well coached, the players they have play extremely hard. They’re disciplined in how they play in alignments and assignments. As a whole, it’s a really good defensive operation and it’s why they’ve been very good for a long time.”
Campbell, like everyone who watched the Indiana game, came away particularly impressed by the Iowa secondary.
“They’re ball hawks, really,” Campbell said. “They do a great job and their defense allows them to break on the football. Then they’re good athletes that can make a play. They were able to do that last week with tipped balls and balls in the air because the defense they play allows them to have great vision on the ball.”
Iowa State vs. Iowa prediction
As much as Iowa and Iowa State fans might like to admit it, the way Campbell and Kirk Ferentz approach the game of football is nearly identical. They want to establish the run early and control the tempo of the game with the run. Defensively, both teams have ranked at or near the top of their respective conferences and the coaches have no problem leaning on the defense to make a stop.
The details of how they do what they do are different, Iowa State runs a spread offense while Iowa runs a pro-style offense. Defensively, Iowa State runs a 3-3-5 while Iowa runs a traditional 4-3. The details are different, the philosophy is the same and it should make for another competitive, close game.
The last three meetings have been decided by an average of 4.6 points and my entire prediction is based off of the law of averages saying that at some point Iowa State has to win one of those close games.
Iowa State 20, Iowa 17