Iowa Football

Iowa football look ahead: On paper, in theory, the Cy-Hawk should be a great game in 2019

Quarterback Brock Purdy flashed nationally ranked accuracy numbers as a freshman

Iowa State’s Brock Purdy, left, and Mike Rose, right, celebrate their 40-31 victory over Texas Tech in an on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018, in Ames. (Matthew Putney/Freelance)
Iowa State’s Brock Purdy, left, and Mike Rose, right, celebrate their 40-31 victory over Texas Tech in an on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018, in Ames. (Matthew Putney/Freelance)
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Everyone is going to get weird with the Iowa-Iowa State game. That’s just how it is.

 
This exercise might not convince you that the rivalry is tighter than you think. You can’t take them away, but let’s consider the Hawkeyes’ 15-game winning streak from 1983 to 1997 the aberration. Iowa did win six straight over ISU in the leather helmet days, but that was then.

Without Iowa State’s ghost ship era, the series is 28-22 in favor of Iowa. Those 15 games created a bubble of expectations for Iowa fans. Dan McCarney popped that bubble in 1998 at Kinnick Stadium. Since that ISU team snapped the streak, the Cyclones have the longest winning streak in the series (five games from 1998-2002).

The Hawkeyes are going for five in a row this year. Head coach Matt Campbell is looking for his first victory over Iowa.

Iowa State fans don’t seem to mind the Hawkeye hole on Campbell’s resume. There’s always the next Cy-Hawk game. Plus, Campbell has back-to-back eight-win seasons, an 11-7 record in the Big 12 the last two years and two bowl appearances.

Let’s not build this up. Campbell hasn’t beaten Iowa, but he’s more than proven himself as a coach. Six NFL teams knocked on the door this offseason, according to the Des Moines Register.

Iowa’s 15 consecutive wins in this season is history. Campbell has built a program going into his fourth season in Ames. Neither team is going to put the other in the rearview mirror. The fact that Iowa has a chance to make it four consecutive comes out of the coaching change that brought Campbell to ISU.

That’s just one theory to kind of make sense of the Cy-Hawk. Of course, you want your team to win and the other to crumble into ashes, but it doesn’t work that way, either.

On paper, in theory, 2019 Cy-Hawk should be a fantastic game.

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Iowa State skill players

The NFL early entry reaper showed up in Ames this offseason.

Running back David Montgomery and wide receiver Hakeem Butler left for the league after their junior years. Maybe these numbers won’t mean a lot as the season goes along, but going into 2019, you do have to note that Montgomery and Butler took 52 percent of ISU’s offense (they combined for 2,534 of ISU’s 4,823 yards) and 55 percent of the Cyclones’ TDs (the duo combined for 22 of the Cyclones’ 40 TDs in 2018).

No doubt, this is a hit to the Cyclones, but at the combine, Butler said he told Campbell before the season his plan was to leave after 2018. Campbell probably did the math and started the planning with Montgomery well before he officially made the call. Montgomery was No. 1 and No. 2 in the Big 12 in carries the last two seasons with 515 attempts over those two years.

A hit, but not a surprise.

After throwing 57 TD passes at Perry High School (Gilbert, Ariz.) as a senior, Cyclones QB Brock Purdy just kept throwing them as a true freshman last year. Purdy was named the Big 12 true freshman of the year after taking over the starting job in week 5.

The 6-1, 202-pounder became the first true freshman quarterback to start a game for ISU since 1995 and then he broke ISU’s single-season mark and ranked 15th nationally in completion percentage (66.4 pct.). Want a really cool stat that puts Purdy in elite elite company? He was third in the nation with 10.2 yards per attempt, behind Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray and Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa. You’ve heard of those guys.

Purdy’s accuracy gives him a chance to be a Baker Mayfield prototype. He also rushed for 308 yards and five TDs.

The Cyclones got their guy.

There’s some pressure on the ISU O-line this season. There will be some sorting for a new running back (maybe Kene Nwangwu?), and it will need to trim the 31.0 sacks it allowed last year.

Iowa State defense

The Cyclones are good here, potentially really good and maybe great.

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The ISU staff found a tackling demon in linebacker Mike Rose. As a true freshman last season (!!!), the 6-3, 230-pounder was third on the team with 75 tackles. He earned freshman All-America from the Football Writers Association of America and The Athletic.

He’s a grinder who injects his teammates with energy.

Safety Greg Eisworth (6-0, 198) also was a tackling demon, leading ISU with 87 to go along with five pass breakups and an interception. He earned Big 12 defensive newcomer of the year.

Nose tackle Ray Lima (6-3, 302) leads an experienced defensive line, which will have at least five seniors and juniors on the depth chart. Senior end JaQuan Bailey also returns. He’s led the Cyclones in sacks the last three seasons and has 18.5 for his career.

ISU might end up a little young at corner, but defensive coordinator Jon Heacock has built one of the Big 12’s best defenses and it should be no different in 2019.

What did 2018 say about 2019 for Iowa State?

The Cyclones fell two points short of beating Washington State in the Alamo Bowl. With a true freshman QB and a true freshman middle linebacker.

There will be short-term pain with NFL early departures, but in the long run, it’s good for the Iowa State program. Recruits can see that, yeah, you can get there from here.

The offense will have to figure out who the producers are, but this is a hungry program that likely will be ranked in the preseason.

Super hot, possibly relevant take on this game that’s 100-something days away: This sets up to be low scoring. Both teams should field A defenses. The Cyclones lost a lot of production. Iowa still is trying to defib its running game and had two early entry tight ends go in the first round.

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Whichever team gets its running game going has a chance. Can’t pick a winner, it’s 100-plus days away, c’mon!

Hawkeyes Look Ahead

Sept. 14: Iowa at Iowa State (Jack Trice Stadium)

Week before: Iowa opens the Big Ten schedule with Rutgers at Kinnick Stadium. On one hand, it’s the Big Ten opener. That’s usually a pretty big deal every year, even if it’s super early here in 2019. On the other hand, Rutgers.

Week after: Iowa has an off week. Big Ten opener (yes, it’s Rutgers, still) and Iowa State, the Hawkeyes might need a week off.

On the horizon: The Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders. They finished 8-6 in 2018, reaching the Conference USA title game and falling to Alabama-Birmingham, 27-25. MTSU lost to Appalachian State, 45-13, in the New Orleans Bowl.

For Iowa State

Week before: Bye week

On the horizon: Louisiana-Monroe at Jack Trice Stadium, Ames

Iowa State Cyclones

Game: Sept. 14 at Jack Trice Stadium

Coach: Matt Campbell (19-19 and 13-14 in the Big 12, fourth season at Iowa State)

2018 record: 8-5, 6-3 in the Big 12 (divisionless!)

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Scoring offense: 26.8 points per game (7th in Big 12, T-82nd nationally — Iowa was 44th at 31.2)

Total offense: 371.0 yards per game (7th B1G, 96th nationally — Iowa was 92nd at 375.0)

Scoring defense: 22.9 points allowed per game (1st Big 12, T-37th nationally — Iowa was 11th at 17.8)

Total defense: 349.2 yards allowed per game (2nd Big 12, 33rd nationally — Iowa was No. 7 at 293.6)

Series: Hawkeyes lead 43-22 (Iowa has won four straight)

Last meeting: The Hawkeyes held Iowa State to 188 yards of offense, the Cyclones’ lowest output since 174 against Baylor in 2013 (a span of 67 games).

Super early, totally unofficial spread prediction: Iowa probably will be favored. It most always is in this game. I’m going pick ’em.

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

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