Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell had his Cyclones post the biggest upset in the conference last year with their stunning 38-31 victory over the Oklahoma Sooners (in Norman). That win was the key that propelled the men of Ames to a bowl game and a win over Memphis in the Liberty Bowl and a 8-5 season.
For 2018, Campbell will find the chore of winning as tough as last year and with a possible start of losing five of their first seven games, a up season of six, seven or more victories will be hard to achieve. Yes, they could do it, but I would not plan on it. At Iowa in game two, hosting Oklahoma a week later, following two road visits to Fort Worth (TCU) and Stillwater (Okla.St.) and back home to meet a very good West Virginia, the Cyclones will need to pull off some upsets. Texas Tech, Kansas, and Baylor games, all winnable as they follow that tough seven games. Ending with Texas in Austin and Kansas State on home turf at Jack Trice, a strong 6-6 or a less 5-7 are quite possible. More than six wins will be achievable, if not expected, by fans in the corn fields of Iowa. Do not give up on the Cyclones even if they get off to a slow start. There is optimism with this bunch and it is deserved.
Nobody can be disappointed in Coach Campbell’s second year at Ames, and even if the Cyclones have a backslide in 2018, the future is bright if he stays the course and doesn’t fly the coop. Other schools will have him on a the watch list, especially if the team has a much better year than predicted here. All long term contracts can be broken, and if a higher recognized Power Five school comes knocking, Campbell just might take a leave. A winner at Toledo and his one good year with Iowa State, Campbell is an up and coming big time coach and leader. His teams are well coached and exciting. He seems to understand how to manipulate his line-ups to get the most from his players. That is the scary part of this Iowa State team. They are going to be dangerous in every game, favorite or not. And even if one has issues with them, they will be competitive in every game.
Kyle Kempt and Zeb Nolan give the offense two very good quarterbacks that have experience. ISU should be fine whomever they have under center. This position is a strength as is the running back position led by Mike Warren and David Montgomery. ISU can never be underrated a running back this season and ISU is loaded here. Hakeem Butler returns as the pass catcher with big play potential and with these playmakers and a offensive line that has 35 career starts (only on returning starter) the offense should light up the scoreboard. And do not forget returning TE Chase Smith (2nd team all-conference) that is a big target and can push smaller defenders away with his 6’7 frame. Iowa State’s strong point will be the offense.
With three defensive line starters coming back, the Cyclones will have one of the better ones in the. conference. That might not mean a whole-hell-of-a-lot in this league.
Marcell Spears leads the linebackers and two solid corners return in a somewhat inexperienced secondary as compared to what they started with last year.
Can Iowa State approach last years excellent defensive numbers? Yes, they could. The jury is still out and until the first seven games against better than average opponents. Then we will know. Those games will make or break the season. Iowa is a key game to win along with either a OSU or TCU win.
Head Coach: Matt Campbell 11-14 (two seasons at Iowa State)
Games Iowa State will win: South Dakota State, Akron, Texas Tech, at Kansas, Baylor
Games Iowa State could win and might: at Iowa, at Oklahoma State, West Virginia, Kansas State
Games Iowa State will not win but could: Oklahoma, at TCU, at Texas
Final predicted record: 6-6 4-5
Feature Photo: IowaStateDaily.com