The Cyclones are returning 14 starters and are led by one of the hottest head coaching commodities in college football today and that is Matt Campbell. Campbell was sought after by teams in the NFL but feels like he is building something special in Ames, Iowa.
Iowa State is one of only two teams in the Big 12 (the other being the Oklahoma Sooners) to win at least eight games in each of the past two seasons. This team has five offensive players who are preseason All-Americans and a quarterback in Brock Purdy who led the Big 12 in passing efficiency last campaign.
You heard that correctly, Brock Purdy had a better efficiency than Heisman hopeful Sammy Ehlinger of Texas and Heisman Sportsbook Kyler Murray of Oklahoma. Purdy really turned this team around in the second half of the season as he added 14 more points a game when he was named the starter.
In the backfield the Cyclones will miss NFL-bound David Montgomery but have newcomers Jirehl Brock and Breece Hall to fill the void.
Cyclones Led Conference in Scoring Defense
The Cyclone defense led the Big 12 in total defense and will be extremely strong again. They allowed only 3.3 yards per carry, a mark that was ninth-best in the country. Since the conference was founded in 1996, Iowa State had never finished first in scoring defense until they finally did it in their spectacular turnaround season in ’18.
Plenty of solid players return such as standout safety Greg Einsworth (led team with 87 tackles), defensive end DaQuan Bailey (8 sacks, 14.5 tackles for a loss), and linebackers Marcel Spears and Mike Rose.
Campbell’s team finished the season by winning seven of its last eight games and has high expectations heading into the 2019 season. Now getting to eight-plus wins is not only something I feel they will do but a conference championship game is within their reach.
Iowa State Can Make Statement vs Hawkeyes
In their non-conference schedule they have only two “cake” games, vs Northern Iowa and Louisiana-Monroe, but lodged between those games they have their in-state rivals, the Hawkeyes of Iowa. It’s time for the Cyclones to make an early-season statement and a win over the Hawkeyes (Iowa has won four straight in this series) will do just that.
Their road conference opponents are Baylor, West Virginia, Texas Tech (at AT&T Stadium) and Kansas State, all teams the Cyclones beat a year ago. They do play one other road game and that’s vs Oklahoma. Before you count that as a loss, don’t forget two years ago in Norman the Cyclones shocked the Sooners and Heisman Sportsbook Baker Mayfield 38-31.
The week after that game the Longhorns venture into Jack Trice Stadium in the game that will determine who gets a possible tiebreaker to qualify for the Big 12 championship game. Although Texas has a solid head coach in Tom Herman and a powerful offense, the Longhorns return only three starters on defense and won’t be able to keep up with the Cyclones by game’s end.
Things are changing in the Big 12 and the Iowa State Cyclones are the No. 1 change that is going to take the conference by storm.
Iowa State Regular-Season Prediction: 10-2
|2019 Win Total||Odds|
Odds as of August 22 at Sportsbook