Iowa State Cyclones College Football Preview 2021: Keys To The Season
Iowa State Cyclones Biggest Key: Offense
Limit the turnovers. The skill parts are fantastic, the line is great, and the team knows how to control and dominate the tempo by owning the time of possession battle.
But it can all be done by turnovers.
Of course everyone cares about turning the ball over, but they derailed the Cyclones at times last year. They lost to Louisiana with two turnovers and gave it up three times in the Big 12 Championship against Oklahoma – the team was -5 in turnover margin in the only two defeats.
They turned it over a season-high four times against Baylor and only won 38-31 against a vastly inferior team. Outside of the games against the Ragin’ Cajuns, Sooners (the second time around) and Bears, Iowa State turned it over just five times total in the other nine games.
Going back to the Alamo Bowl loss to Washington State to end the 2018 season, Iowa State is 2-7 when turning it over two times or more, and it’s 14-3 when it doesn’t.
Iowa State Cyclones Biggest Key: Defense
Find a pass rusher on the other side of Will McDonald. Generating a pass rush hasn’t been a massive problem over the last few years, and McDonald is a star with 16.5 sacks in his last two seasons, but he’s going to need help.
JaQuan Bailey signed with the Philadelphia Eagles after finishing second on the team with seven sacks, and Latrell Bankston took off for the Houston Cougars after ended up with 3.5 sacks.
The pressure will come from other spots, and there’s a decent group of ends to work into the rotation, but it has to happen fast or offenses will load up on McDonald.
Iowa State Cyclones Key Player To A Successful Season
QB Brock Purdy, Sr.
He has had a great career, he led the team to a Big 12 Championship appearance, and he’s put up big numbers over the last three seasons.
Now he needs to be better – and more consistent.
Fantastic as a sophomore, he threw for close to 4,000 yards averaging 8.4 yards per pass with 27 touchdowns and just nine picks – and three coming in one game. However, when he failed to connect and struggled to complete 65% of his throws, Iowa State usually lost.
Last year he averaged almost a yard less per attempt, threw for 2,759 yards in one less game than in 2019, and he hit 67% of his throws. He was hardly bad, but if he’s just a wee bit stronger, that could be the difference between another outstanding season and something truly special.
Iowa State Cyclones Key Game To The 2021 Season
at Oklahoma, Nov. 20
It might be the first of two meetings – just like last year – and it comes late in the year to potentially decide the Big 12 Championship matchup in some way. It’s also the first and only time this season that Iowa State is the underdog.
The Iowa game is at home, and so are the key Big 12 matchups against Oklahoma State, Texas and TCU. The road trips are all manageable, so if the Cyclones can just win the games they’re supposed to – and own everything in Ames – the date in Norman might be a colossal showdown.
2020 Iowa State Cyclones Fun Stats
– 1st Quarter Scoring: 58 – 2nd Quarter Scoring 144
– Time of Possession: Iowa State 33:05 – Opponents 26:55
– 3rd Down Conversions: Iowa State 45% – Opponents 33%