The 21st-ranked Iowa State Cyclones open their 2019 campaign by hosting the 21st-ranked FCS team; the Northern Iowa Panthers. The Cyclones have dominated the series (22-6-3), but the Panthers have won two out of the last four.
The last meeting came in 2017 in the Cyclone’s home opener where Iowa State got revenge 42-24 after losing to the Panthers 25-20 to start the previous season. The 2017 win sparked the Matt Campbell era on their way to the programs first bowl win since 2009.
- When: SAT, AUG 31 at 11:00 AM CT
- Where: Jack Trice Stadium
- Forecast: Cloudy, High of 72
- TV: FS1
- Stream: Fox Sports Go
- Betting Line: ISU -18.5, 41.5u
Northern Iowa Panthers
Northern Iowa is seeking their 3rd-straight post-season appearance and their first conference championship since 2015. They have 16 returning starters coming into the season and are getting receiver Isaiah Weston and linebacker Chris Kolarevic back from injury. Weston was a freshman All-American before injuries in the preseason a year ago, and Kolarevic was the Panther’s leading tackler before going down after week six.
Head coach Mark Farley named Will McElvain as the Panthers starting quarterback, and he will have the top six receivers returning along with preseason All-American tight end Briley Moore.
Trevor Allen is a versatile back and now will get the bulk of the carries after playing more of a backup roll last year. He rushed for over 600 yards in 2018 and can catch passes out of the backfield, hauling in 25 receptions last year for 256 yards.
The UNI secondary will be led by preseason all-American honoree Xavior Williams, while Elerson Smith provides pressure in the backfield.
Iowa State Cylones
The Cyclones come into the season in a position that’s still a bit unfamiliar; surrounded by hype. They’re ranked inside the preseason AP Top 25 for the first time since 1978, and a big part is due to Sophomore quarterback Brock Purdy. The signal caller posted a 7-2 record last season. However, two big pieces of the offense last season in running back Mike Montgomery and wide receiver Hakeem Butler are now missing.
Purdy will look to lean on senior receiver Deshaunte Jones and sophomore Tarique Milton. Also add to the mix Landen Akers and Arkansas transfer La’Michael Pettway.
Campbell has all five starters along the offensive line to open holes for a trio of running backs he can call upon to try and fill the void Montgomery left behind. Senior Sheldon Croney, junior Kene Nwangwu and sophomore Johnnie Lang will by vying for carries but don’t be surprised if true freshman Breece Hall starts to emerge as the go to guy.
The Iowa state defense has developed into one of the Big 12’s best defense, rating in the top half of most defensive categories and return eight starters on defense, including five who earned All-Big 12 recognition a year ago.
3 Keys to the Game For The Cyclones
Pressure the Quarterback – The Cylones need to apply pressure to first year quarterback Will McElvain and allow him to gain confidence. Getting hands up in the passing lanes, putting him on his back will force him to make plays that aren’t there and will create turnovers.
No Turnovers – The last thing Iowa State needs to do is give Northern Iowa extra opportunities to keep them within striking distance late in the game. UNI won in Ames just three years ago and there’s a belief that they can go in there and do it again.
Establish a Run Game – With an experience offense line, ISU should get the running game going to take some of the pressure off Purdy’s shoulders. The Cyclones have four running backs they can chose from and although its only one game, getting the timing down with the offensive line will be essential moving forward.
There is a lot of excitement in Ames and I expect the Cyclones to be ready for the season. The big question is, can they handle some of the expectations?
I think the offense will be a little off to begin the game, but the defense will be amped up and carry the team till Purdy and his boys get going.
Some may think this game will be close due to the recent history but I have Iowa State starting off the season with a bang with a big win over UNI.