Against all odds, Oklahoma State enters Ames, Iowa, at an unblemished 6-0. Apparently Las Vegas has been paying attention to how OSU appears to escape “by-the-skin-of-its-teeth” style in nearly every game because the Pokes are 7-point underdogs against Iowa State.
The Cyclones present a unique challenge of the likes Oklahoma State hasn’t seen much of this year. OSU has won games through strong defensive performances, particularly among the front seven. Iowa State is perhaps the best rushing team OSU has faced this season, with all due respect to Bijan Robinson and Texas. With that being said, here’s how to tune in and what to watch for.
When: Saturday, October 23 at 2:30 p.m. CT.
Where: Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, Iowa.
Listen: Cowboy Radio Network.
Line: Oklahoma State (+7) per Caesars Sportsbook. This means the Cowboys are 7-point underdogs; Iowa State is favored to win by a touchdown at home.
Significance: It has been abundantly clear that Oklahoma, Texas, Baylor and Iowa State have been the best non-OSU teams in the Big 12 to this point of the season. Assuming Baylor loses to Oklahoma, then OSU would have to lose three of four against Kansas, (at) West Virginia, TCU, and (at) Texas Tech, if it beats Iowa State. In other words, a win in Ames this weekend likely wraps up a Big 12 title game berth for the Pokes. If not, OSU would likely have to beat OU to get to Arlington.
Get to know the Iowa State Cyclones
Iowa State wrapped up the 2020 season with a Fiesta Bowl win against Oregon after barely losing the Big 12 championship game to OU. The Cyclones started 2021 as the overwhelming consensus No. 2 team in the league, then promptly started off the year with an unimpressive 16-10 win against Northern Iowa at home followed by a home rivalry loss to Iowa in what is aptly named “El Assico.”
Then the Cyclones roped UNLV before kicking off Big 12 play with a loss at Baylor. Then they hit stride with wins against the two Kansas schools to arrive at a record of 4-2 (2-1) heading into Saturday’s showdown with the undefeated Pokes.
The Cyclones seemed to have found a rhythm in recent weeks and played a great game against Kansas State, an important common opponent with OSU. Quarterback Brock Purdy played a masterful game, throwing for 208 yards and a touchdown on 22-of-25; his longest completion was 25 yards. Breece Hall ran 30 times for 197 yards and two scores for 6.6 yards-per-carry. This weekends’ game may depend on how well OSU can limit Hall, the hub of the ISU offense.
Keying in on the run game will be important because ISU hasn’t been particularly explosive in the passing game this season. Purdy has been efficient, completing nearly 74 percent of his passes for the year, but the longest catch by any receiver with more than 10 catches on ISU’s roster is 39 yards. Purdy averages 8.5 yards-per-completion and has tossed nine touchdowns and four ints. The only defense Iowa State has faced this year on par with OSU’s is Iowa, who held Purdy to 138 yards, no touchdowns, and three INT’s; the Cyclones ran for just 87 total yards in that game as well.
Unlike Texas, the Cyclones don’t score on chunk plays and put together long, methodical scoring drives more often than not. This means the OSU defense could be on the field more often than it has been in the last several games. The longer the OSU offense can hold the ball, the better. This could be a quick game given that both teams get the job done on the ground rather than through the air. Expect a lower-scoring trench-warfare slugfest.
Iowa State averages 33.7 points-per-game, but OSU has been holding opponents to significantly less than their averages. Texas entered last week averaging more than 44 points-per-game, and scored just 24 against the Cowboys. Of course, Texas scored 17 first-half points, and OSU can’t afford a similar slow start against Iowa State.
Time of possession and winning the turnover battle could help decide who wins this game, so keep an eye on that on Saturday.
What else to read:
CFB Weekend Preview
Who to follow on Twitter:
Iowa State Follows:
Why should y’all trust me? Frankly I’m not sure, I’m 3-3 picking the Pokes this season. I picked them to lose at Boise State, at home to Kansas State, and at Texas. I picked the Pokes by double digits against Missouri State and Tulsa — that did not happen. I picked the Pokes by single digits against Baylor (and heavily considered picking the Bears) — that did not happen. Basically, I can’t pick anything right with OSU football games this season.
BUT for the sake of you, the reader, I will try. Vegas hasn’t budged from the opening like of Iowa State -7. That means — unlike last week at Texas when the Horns opened as 5.5-point favorites and closed as 3.5-point favorites, meaning money came in on OSU to cover — the line hasn’t gone down. People think Iowa State is going to win this game and Vegas agrees.
It’s a good thing Vegas isn’t dropping back to pass for the Cowboys... the game still has to be played. Oklahoma State’s run defense lets up just 98.8 yards-per-game. If it lives up to that billing against the Cyclones, OSU has a good chance to win. However, it likely won’t be that easy. Iowa State averages just 33 penalty yards per game and has only six turnovers for the year, granted they have recovered five of their seven offensive fumbles.
Similar to last week OSU needs to win the turnover battle (or break even at the very least) and win time of possession to have the best shot at winning this game. Iowa State is hitting its stride, but we’ve seen how they handled a defense that plays at a level similar to Oklahoma State’s: notgreat! The OSU defense comes up with early stops, the Pokes take a halftime lead, and play keep away on offense. A few stiff stops in the red zone will help out. This team keeps proving me wrong when I pick against them, so they’ve earned this prediction.
Oklahoma State, 31 — Iowa State, 27