The 2021 season produced two new title contenders in the Big 12 Conference as Baylor and Oklahoma State faced off in the Big 12 Championship Game. The conference announced plans to replace Texas and Oklahoma in 2025 by adding Houston, UCF, Cincinnati and BYU in 2023. The 2022 season will be the last season of the Big 12 Conference as it’s been known for the last decade.
There will inevitably be more seismic shifts this season after UCLA and USC announced intentions to leave the Pac-12 for the Big Ten Conference. Whether the Big 12 adds more schools or has more members poached by other conferences remains to be seen, but this will be the last year with just 10 member institutions in the conference. Next up in the Big 12 preseason power rankings is the West Virginia Mountaineers. You can read previous installments of this series below.
No. 7 Iowa State Cyclones
Brock Purdy won 29 games, broke 31 schools records, and quarterback the most successful football teams in Iowa State’s history. Those shoes aren’t too big to fill, right? If coach Matt Campbell has been the driving factor behind all this success, Iowa State should be just fine. Either way, replacing Purdy and running back Breece Hall won’t be easy.
Iowa State was a preseason media darling at this time last year. What ensued was a disappointing 7-6 season. In past years, 7-6 would have been enough to throw a parade, but that isn’t Matt Campbell’s Iowa State program. 7-6 is just about the minimum expectation now. Of course, there will be down years here and there, but 7-6 is the bare minimum for a senior laden group.
This upcoming season has the potential to be one of those down years. Campbell has to replace leaders and playmakers all across the field on both sides of the football. How Campbell replaces Purdy, Hall, Charlie Kolar, Mike Rose and more will determine how well Iowa State plays this season.
Iowa State has key games against Kansas State, West Virginia and Texas Tech in Ames. The Cyclones will need to defend home turf well in 2022 in order to extend Campbell’s streak of consecutive winning seasons.
Fortunately for Campbell and the Cyclones, there is a clear heir apparent to Purdy. Sophomore quarterback Hunter Dekkers will step in to lead the offense in 2022. Dekkers had the benefit of learning from Purdy throughout his first year on campus in order to be as prepared as possible for his time as QB1. How quickly Dekkers comes along will help determine if Iowa State is able to win some of those key home games.
There is no clear cut answer for replacing Hall at running back. The Cyclones have boasted workhorses in David Montgomery and Hall for the last several seasons. That might not be the case this year. Jirehl Brock enters his junior season as the favorite to lead the group and get the most carries. Brock started Iowa State’s bowl game last year after Hall elected to sit out. Eli Sanders and Deon Silas were also on the roster last year and figure to get some carries. Campbell signed freshman Cartevious Norton out of Georgia, and Norton could get some carries if those above him on the depth chart don’t perform.
Xavier Hutchinson returns to lead the receiving corps after hauling in nearly 1,000 yards in receptions last year. Sophomore Jaylin Noel is also back to start in the slot. Sean Shaw Jr. and Colorado transfer Dimitri Stanley also figure to play a role in the passing game. Receiver Greg Gaines was one of the highest rated class of 2022 signees Campbell brought in. There isn’t much returning production after Hutchinson and Noel, so the Cyclones will need to find some playmakers at receiver.
Trevor Downing is moving to center and is one of the better offensive lineman in the country. Darrell Simmons, Jarrod Hufford, Tyler Miller and Jake Remsburg will fill in around Downing to form one of the more experienced and formidable offensive lines in the conference. The offensive line should provide a security blanket for the inexperience at the skill positions on offense. If Dekkers develops well and Hutchinson has a big season, Iowa State should have a decent offensive group.
Will McDonald IV decided to return for another year after leading the Big 12 in sacks the last two seasons. McDonald IV will lead the defensive unit. Blake Peterson will start opposite McDonald IV as the other defensive end in Iowa State’s 3-3-5 scheme. Minnesota transfer MJ Anderson will compete with Isaiah Lee on the interior of the defensive line.
O’Rien Vance will hold down the middle of the linebacking corps, but the Cyclones will have to replace some production around Vance. Gerry Vaughn rotated in at linebacker the last several years and figures to start this year, while Campbell was also impressed by Delaware transfer Colby Reeder, according to Scott Dochterman of The Athletic.
Iowa State’s secondary will have a completely new look in 2022. The Cyclones lost talent to graduation and the transfer portal and will need to find playmakers immediately. Anthony Johnson Jr. is back and has moved from cornerback to safety. Johnson Jr. should be the leader in the back end. Beau Freyler started the bowl game and figures to compete for a starting spot along with Malik Verdon.
Campbell really likes his group at safety, according to Scott Dochterman of The Athletic. Cornerback is a bit of a different story. Myles Purchase and T.J. Tampa will compete with Tayvonn Kyle for the two starting spots. Iowa State will need to find some playmakers to help provide depth in the secondary.
Iowa State really struggled in one-score games last year. A 2-5 record in close games is hard to overcome. That talented group of seniors still made a bowl game, but it is hard to imagine this group doing much better in close games than the historic senior class that just left Ames. Iowa will be a tough non-conference opponent, as always, and Iowa State will need to find a way to win some close games in Big 12 play in order to make a bowl game this year.
Iowa State Cyclones Schedule 2022
|@ Oklahoma State
I wouldn’t be surprised if Iowa State ended up in a handful of one-score games this season. If the Cyclones can improve in that area, a bowl game should be in reach. If not, it could be a long season in Ames.
Disclaimer: I will be posting my picks weekly on Tallysight once again this year. This is just my best guess as of July and these picks are subject to change once I see what actually ends up playing out on the field.