Iowa State (4-2, 2-1) is still riding high after their huge upset in Norman over the Sooners, carrying that momentum to a 45-0 shutout against Kansas last week. Since the Cyclones head coach, Matt Campbell came to Ames, Iowa State has been on an upward trajectory. Hard to believe to be sure seeing as Iowa State finished just 3-9 in Campbell’s first year, but let me walk you through it. It took about 4 games for the Cyclones to get their feet under them with their new head coach, and after starting just 1-3 they proceeded to continue to lose 5 straight and a 1-8 record. I know, I know, I’m getting there. The Cyclones lost to, then ranked, Baylor 45-42, Oklahoma State in Stillwater 38-31 (leading by 10 going into the 4th before being outscored 17-0), Texas 27-6 in a defensive struggle that had an awful 21-0 run by Texas in the 3rd to be the difference, Kansas State 31-26, in which the Wildcats led 31-10 before the Cyclones outscored Kansas State 16-0 in the 4th and a close one against the Sooners, 34-24.
Maybe not what most people consider success, but as the season went on and Texas Tech fans were looking at the Iowa State game, it became clearer and clearer that this game would be much tougher than expected in the first weeks of the season. Maybe Texas Tech was still in Stillwater trying to recover from a one point loss on a missed extra point try, but Iowa State completely dominated Texas Tech in tune for a 66-10 victory. It meant the end of Tech’s bowl chances and a long, long off-season to come.
On paper, Texas Tech should handle Iowa State at home. Iowa State’s offense is ranked 68th in the country. Arguably one of the worst offenses in the Big 12, if not decent run game and future NFL wide receiver in Allen Lazard. Iowa State’s true success lies in a very stingy defense. They play a base 3-2-6 (rush 3, drop 8) and have given the notable offensive minds of Tom Herman, Lincoln Riley and Doug Meacham fits over the last three weeks.
Tech has to establish the run game against the three man front and not abandon it to be successful. Iowa State likes to keep every thing in front and dropping eight into zone coverage completely shut down their last three opponents and this same coverage has given Tech fits in the past, including against Iowa State last year. Even if the run game is slow in the beginning, they need to keep pounding Stockton, Nisby and King in heavy rotation to force Iowa State to add another defender to the box, and open up the coverage.
Iowa State isn’t quite the takeaway machine Texas Tech has been this year, but have still put up an impressive +6 in turnover margin. Dropping 8 into zone and just waiting for the offense to make a mistake will do that.
Kingsbury has handled Iowa State in each of his first three seasons, but is 0-1 against Campbell in a lopsided defeat. Tech is returning from a two game road trip that ended with an awful collapse in the 4th quarter against West Virginia. All indications from Tech players is they will be ready to go on Saturday to not only avenge last year’s blowout, but get the bad taste out of their mouths from their visit to Morgantown.
Here’s the tale of the tape:
For many fans, Iowa State is in the same category as Kansas when it comes to football. But in reality Iowa State has beaten Texas Tech on a more regular basis than some other perceived bottom-dwellers. Including 3 times in the past 7 seasons (2010, 2011, 2016).
Texas Tech is favored by 6 at home. A lot of people are taking Iowa State and the points however due to their recent success that may have the indications of Iowa State turning into a power in the conference. Texas Tech still has a great chance at 8 wins this season, but a loss to the Cyclones after the collapse in West Virginia could put the team into a mental tailspin. With a trip to Norman looming next weekend, Tech could find themselves in the midst of a 3 game losing streak, a 4-4 record and a lot of questions about the future of the program.
All those questions can be answered with a win on Saturday.
The game will be televised on FS1 at 11am.
Check the Texas Tech website for radio affiliates in your area.
Here are some links from the week to get you caught up on Iowa State:
Opponent Q&A: Wide Right Natty Lite
The Anti-Preview: Texas Tech vs Iowa State
The Air Raid Podcast #102
Film Room: Texas Tech’s Run Defense
How is Nic Shimonek Stacking up to other Texas Tech QBs
Enjoy the game and don’t forget to come hang with us during the game on the Gameday Thread or on Twitter @vivathematadors