Opponent: Iowa State
Kickoff: October 28th
Location: McLane Stadium (Waco, TX)
Conference: Big 12
Head Coach: Matt Campbell (entering 8th season)
Last Year’s Record: 4-8
Notable Outcomes: Beat Iowa, 10-7; lost to Baylor, 31-24; beat West Virginia, 31-14
Key Losses: Xavier Hutchinson, WR; Will McDonald IV, DE; MJ Anderson, DE
Key Returners: Jirehl Brock, RB; T.J. Tampa, CB; Gerry Vaughn, LB
Strength: Defensive backs. Iowa State returns most of its defensive backfield, with the likes of T.J. Tampa and Myles Purchase returning at cornerback, and Beau Freyler and Jeremiah Cooper returning at safety. Iowa State’s defense was certainly not its issue last season and, at least on the back end, shouldn’t be an issue this year either.
Weakness: Quarterback. Iowa State vastly underperformed last season. A big part of that was very underwhelming quarterback play from Hunter Dekkers. Dekkers had a nice completion percentage at 66.1%. The problem is, he threw 14 interceptions to only 19 touchdowns. That type of ratio just isn’t going to get it done in the Big 12. Unless Dekkers improves dramatically in the offseason, quarterback play will likely hold the Cyclones back again this year.
Way Too Early Prediction: Iowa State is going to be tough on defense. How tough will depend on how well they can reload some key players in the front six. Offensively, however, Iowa State hasn’t made any moves that make me think they won’t sputter again this year. Matt Campbell parted ways with former offensive coordinator Tom Manning and promoted Nate Scheelhaase. Whether that internal promotion will make much of a difference is yet to be seen. The Cyclones should be pretty good running the ball, but without proven playmakers at quarterback or wide receiver I like Baylor to secure a home win here.