Iowa State Cyclones

Iowa State football at TCU: Pregame analysis, prediction

Cyclones open Big 12 schedule against unknown Horned Frogs

TCU hosts Iowa State on Saturday at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas.
TCU hosts Iowa State on Saturday at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas.

AMES — A closer look at Saturday’s Big 12 football game between Iowa State (0-1) and host TCU (0-0) at 12:30 p.m. (FS1).

Iowa State offense

Iowa State’s passing attack struggled mightily against Louisiana two weeks ago.

Quarterback Brock Purdy completed just 46 percent of his passes for 145 yards.

The running game was serviceable, but with special teams surrendering two touchdowns, Iowa State got pass heavy in the second half and wasn’t able to get anything going.

The Cyclones needed to figure things out during their bye week because TCU has had one of the best defenses in the Big 12, annually.

“For us it was the ability to do the little things well,” ISU Coach Matt Campbell said. “There were times we played with great discipline and there were times we defaulted back, in all phases, to some habits that don’t allow us to be successful. From an offensive standpoint, that came in the second half. There were multiple plays out there to be made and we didn’t make a play.”

Iowa State defense

The Cyclones’ defense played well against Louisiana ... except the 78-yard touchdown.

But other than that, Iowa State played well on all three levels, and particularly along the defensive line.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

Will McDonald had two sacks, Josh Bailey had two tackles for loss, JaQuan Bailey played his most complete game as a Cyclone and Latrell Bankston had a good debut with a sack and three tackles.

“There are a lot of guys that have played football and I think if you do go back to that game, you look at it and it’s like, man, the guys that have played a lot of football were ready to roll,” Campbell said. “I think the positive for us is there’s a lot of really good players there. There’s a lot of guys that have played a lot of football.”

TCU offense

TCU hasn’t played a game yet, so the big question for the Horned Frogs is who is going to play quarterback.

Max Duggan had a heart procedure in August, but Coach Gary Patterson said he was back with the team two weeks ago. Will he play? Or will it be Georgia transfer Matthew Downing or junior college transfer Stephon Brown?

On Tuesday, Patterson announced Downing will start against Iowa State. The other quarterbacks will be available to play, so it wouldn’t be all that surprising to see Duggan or Brown because Patterson said on Monday they have packages for all three quarterbacks.

Outside of the quarterback situation, TCU could be in trouble. The Horned Frogs lost three of their top four rushers from last season. And the one they didn’t lose was Duggan. They also lost Jalen Reagor, their dynamic receiver, to the NFL Draft.

TCU defense

Year in and year out TCU’s defense has ranked near the top of the Big 12. This year shouldn’t be any different.

The Horned Frogs return two safeties, Trevon Moehrig and Ar’Darius Washington, who were ranked the two best safeties in the nation last year by Pro Football Focus.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

Even though the Horned Frogs haven’t played a game yet, Campbell knows what to expect from TCU’s defense.

“One advantage a TCU team has is Gary Patterson has been there for 20 years,” Campbell said. “There is great continuity on the defensive staff, great continuity on the offensive staff. It’s not so much schematically what they’re doing, even though you know there will be some unique tweeks, but the other piece of it is, who is their personnel? I do think this is a team that has a lot coming back so there is a lot of veteranness to this football team.”

Final thoughts

I struggle picking games in the best of times. In the middle of a pandemic when one team hasn’t even played a game yet, I’ve been a mess for two weeks trying to decipher my thoughts on this game.

On one hand, it seems difficult for Iowa State’s passing game to be worse than it was against Louisiana. On the other hand, TCU has the two best safeties in the nation and a defense that’s always good. On the flip side, Iowa State’s defense has proved that, once again, it will be among the best in the conference and TCU’s offense hasn’t even stepped onto the field yet with its new quarterback, new running backs and new receivers.

I have less than zero confidence in this pick but here we go anyway.

Prediction — Iowa State 10, TCU 6

Comments: benv43@gmail.com

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.