It's Big 12 vs. Big Ten in this annual intrastate battle. Look for the Iowa St. Cyclones to stay within the spread in Ames today when they host the Iowa Hawkeyes.
In what is usually a low-scoring battle, we’ll side with the home dog. New Iowa State head coach Paul Rhodes, formerly the defensive coordinator at Pitt and Auburn, is looking to make a statement early and this is his chance.
Rhodes has most of his offense back intact including QB Austen Arnaud who threw for over 2700 yards and rushed for nearly 500 in 2008. New offensive coordinator Tom Herman turned around the offense at Rice the last two years and will have some nice parts to work with here.
ISU didn’t show much on offense in last week’s 34-17 win over North Dakota State. They’ll open it up much more in this one including some five wide receiver sets which gave Iowa problem last week vs. Northern Iowa. The Cyclones defense was porous last year; however Rhodes has proven he can coach with the best of them on that side of the ball.
Iowa loses their key offensive performer as RB Shonn Greene, who barreled his way to nearly 1900 yards on the ground last year, has moved on to the Steelers. His replacement, Jewel Hampton, was injured in camp and is out for the year. Kirk Ferentz has been worried about Iowa’s ability to run the ball this year and those fears were emphasized last week when they put up only 87 yards on the ground (just 2.8 per carry) at home vs. Division-1AA Northern Iowa. The Hawkeyes needed a blocked field goal as the buzzer sounded to pick up the 17-16 win in that game.
This has been a defensive battle with the totals reaching just 22, 28, 44, 26 and 27 the last five years. That definitely favors the home underdog here. Keep in mind the host has won five straight in this battle for Iowa supremacy.
The Cyclones continue to be tabbed as the dog in this series and continue to cover. Iowa State has now taken the cabbage 10 of the last 11 years in this series. Our view is this, the Hawkeyes are a bit over rated coming into the season while the Cyclones should be better than a year ago. A low scoring game leads to ISU getting the cover here. The Hawkeyes win but only by 1!
Free Pick: Iowa St. +6½ (-110)