The Horned Frogs are headed up to Cyclone country in a matchup that looks like it will go a long way to define the middle of the Big 12. Iowa State came into the season as the favorite to challenge Oklahoma and Texas for a spot in the Big 12 Championship game, but this season has not gone as planned. Questions surrounded the TCU offense to start the season, but no one wanted to doubt Gary Patterson coming off a down year. And so far, the Frogs have shown why.
At 5-2, the Horned Frogs have dominated this matchup since joining the Big 12. However, the last time TCU lost this game was the last time it was played in Ames. Fans rushed the field as Iowa State defeated the 4th-ranked Horned Frogs.
The last two meetings have been decided by one score with last year’s contest being decided by a TCU game-winning, last-minute field goal. This one could be another close contest as Iowa State enters this game as a 3.5-point favorite.
Are the Cyclones the team that defeated UL-Monroe 72-20, or are they the team that struggled against Northern Iowa? Has TCU found a quarterback and an offense? These are questions we are about to find the answers to.
- When: Sat, Oct 5 at 11:00 AM CT
- Where: Jack Trice Stadium, Ames, IA
- Forecast: Scattered Showers, High of 66°F
- TV: ESPN2
- Stream: WatchESPN
- Betting Lines: ISU -3.5, O/U 44
TCU Horned Frogs
By Andy Mitts
The Horned Frogs had a phenomenal game last week. The offense, led by Max Duggan, was so effective that he stopped playing midway through the second quarter. The defense locked down the Jayhawks, a big rebound after allowing 41 points to the Mustangs.
The main question is if these trends can continue. Iowa State has had numerous problems of their own offensively. Despite the offensive struggles, the Cyclone defense has been very strong. Can Max Duggan play well enough to be the only quarterback appearing for TCU? Will the running game continue to drive the team forward?
TCU Keys to the Game
Run The Dang Ball – Regardless of how effective the pass was last week, this offense is built on the run game. If they don’t establish the run early, the pressure will mount on Max Duggan. I’m not saying he can’t handle it, but they really shouldn’t require him to handle it.
Don’t Overthink On Defense – Iowa State is lacking in star skill players. Brock Purdy can’t do everything on his own. Now that the defense is back to full strength, playing sound base defense should be more than enough to see success.
Take Some Shots – Even though the run should be the bread-and-butter, Jalen Reagor is the arguably the best receiver in the conference. The cornerbacks for Iowa State are probably the weakest spot of this defense. If Duggan picks his spots well, he can find some real success to propel this team to a win.
Mitt’s Game Prediction
This is going to be the epitome of a defensive battle. TCU’s offense is a bunch of skill position players without a proven quarterback. Iowa State’s offense is a bunch of unproven skill position players with a proven quarterback.
I expect the home field advantage to have a tangible impact on this game, but ultimately I trust the plethora of weapons that TCU has. Iowa State’s defense will keep this close, but ultimately TCU should pull this one out late.
Iowa State Cyclones
By Colton Wood
The season hasn’t gone quite as well for the Cyclones as they’ve been hoping. A couple close losses to the likes of Iowa and Baylor has left Iowa State at a heartbreaking 2-2. What makes it worse is that Iowa State was arguably the better team in both of the games they lost.
Against Iowa, they outgained Hawkeyes 7.7 to 4.3 on yards per play. Against Baylor, they were able to storm back and score 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter, just to piss it away. What makes these losses tough to swallow it the embarrassing way each ended. The Iowa game ended with two Cyclones running into each other to muff the punt return, and the Baylor game ended with Iowa State failing to get the stop and Baylor’s kicker making their first-ever collegiate field goal after they had struggled all day in that aspect.
Matt Campbell and company look to bounce back this week against the Horned Frogs. After upsetting TCU when they were the 4th-ranked team in the country in 2017, the Cyclones fell short last year losing 14-17. The home team has won this game the past few years and Iowa State looks to keep that streak alive.
Iowa State Keys To The Game
Win The Turnover Battle – Iowa State has had a rough year so far in the turnover column. Over the first four games this season, the Cyclones have lost the turnover margin 3-7. If you take out the Louisiana-Monroe game, the Cyclones are down 0-5 in turnovers, losing it 0-2 in each of the games that they lost. If Iowa State can flip the script Saturday, they have a good shot at winning.
Establish The Run: –The Cyclones have really struggled to establish the run so far this year. We knew we missed David Montgomery, but I don’t think we expected to miss him this much. In each of the last two games, QB Brock Purdy has been the leading rusher for the team. Yes, Brock Purdy is an all-star, but that’s not a fact you want to see. The Cyclones have plenty of talented running backs. They just need to find one that can produce efficiently.
Score – Of course Iowa State needs to score. Points are what wins games. I make this point though because while the Cyclones have been one of the best offenses so far this year in terms of yards per play, they have lacked the ability to finish these drives out. So many of Iowa State’s dives stall out once they get in the opponent’s half of the field. They’re going to need all the points they can get in this defensive showdown.
Wood’s Game Prediction
Just like the last few games in this series, I think this will be a very close game. Both teams take pride in their stout defense, in this very offense-predicated league. I believe that the Cyclones bounce back at home get the win at home by finally finding a running back that they really like (Jirehl Brock is my pick) and Brock Purdy does what Brock Purdy does. Welcome to Brocktober, baby.