It’s the second week of September, and if you’ve been around Iowa sports for long, you know what that means: it’s time for the annual battle for the Cy-Hawk Trophy. For all of Matt Campbell’s success at Iowa State, there’s one thing he hasn’t done with the Cyclones: beat Iowa.
Campbell is 0-5 against the Hawkeyes since taking over in Ames, and Iowa State’s losing streak to Iowa has now reached six after the Cyclones threw away a great shot to beat the Hawkeyes with turnovers.
That marked their fifth straight defeat to Iowa at Jack Trice Stadium, so maybe it’s a good thing for the Cyclones that they’re coming to Kinnick Stadium this year. Sure, they’ve lost on their two most recent visits here, but the teams have split the past four meetings in Iowa City.
At What Time Is The Cy-Hawk Trophy Game?
The Iowa vs Iowa State Cyclones game happens this Saturday 9/10, at Kinnick Stadium. The event starts at 11 am, but the kickoff is scheduled for 3 pm.
After last week’s ugly game with South Dakota State, Kirk Ferentz would be thrilled to see the offense get anything working. The defense and special teams won the game for the Hawkeyes last week, but the offense looked exactly like how Woody Hayes used to describe things: Three things can happen when you pass, and two of them are bad. The Hawkeyes did just enough to survive, but that won’t work against better teams. Here’s what you need to know about this matchup!
Iowa Is Favored By 3.5 Points — Because of Turnovers
There’s a reason that the Hawkeyes are favored to make it seven straight wins against Iowa State, and it’s because Iowa State tends to shoot itself in the foot against Iowa’s defense. Ferentz has built his entire Iowa career on sitting back and letting his opponent cost itself the game, and that is exactly what Iowa State has done for six straight years against the Hawkeyes.
Since Campbell arrived in Ames, he’s gotten five cracks at Iowa, and each time, the Cyclones have been their own worst enemy. In five meetings with the Hawkeyes, the Cyclones have turned the football over nine times to zero for Iowa. That’s right — you’ve got to go all the way back to 2015 to find the last time Iowa State forced a turnover against Iowa.
And that perfectly encapsulates the difference between the two programs: Iowa State’s strategy is built on trying to beat its opponent, while Iowa prefers to let the opponent do the work for it. It’s no accident that Kirk Ferentz’s teams usually finish as one of the best teams in the country in turnovers: the Hawkeyes do not usually beat themselves.
Spencer Petras might have something to say about that if he keeps playing the way he did in Week 1, but usually, Iowa makes opponents beat it by avoiding silly mistakes. Over the past seven seasons, the worst the Hawkeyes have finished in turnovers for the season is plus-6.
Iowa State has mostly been the opposite. Only in 2017 did Campbell’s team manage to finish better than plus-3 in the turnover margin. In six seasons with Campbell in Ames, the Cyclones have finished positive in turnovers only three times, and one of those came in 2020 when Iowa wasn’t on their schedule. Iowa State puts up numbers on a regular basis, but the chances that Iowa State has to take to make those numbers happen to end up backfiring against a team like Iowa.
In order to beat Iowa, you have to be ready for a grind-it-out game, and that’s not how Iowa State and Campbell like to play. Above all, you cannot hand Iowa free possessions at any point in the game. Iowa State keeps losing the turnover battle, and that’s why the Cy-Hawk Trophy keeps taking up residence in Iowa City.
Felt good to be back!
— Cyclone Football (@CycloneFB) September 4, 2022
How Iowa State Can Turn The Tables
Beyond the turnovers, the main thing Iowa State has to do to win this game is take away Iowa’s running game and force Petras to beat them. There’s reason to believe that the Cyclones can do it: South Dakota State showed exactly how a team can shut down the Hawkeye ground game and force Iowa to take to the air. The Jackrabbits only allowed 72 rushing yards for the game, and Iowa State boasts a solid linebacking corps that O’Rien Vance leads.
The Cyclones’ defensive backs are not their strongest part of the unit, but that’s OK. Iowa State doesn’t need its secondary to make big plays; the Cyclones just need the secondary to hold their coverage assignments and let Petras make a costly error. In short, Iowa State’s best option in this matchup is to steal Iowa’s strategy and let the Hawkeyes screw up the game on their own.
Based on what we saw in Week 1, Iowa didn’t appear to have a plan B against a team that wasn’t going to beat itself. The Hawkeyes pulled the game out of the fire because of great special teams’ play, but they can’t count on that every week. Iowa State needs to be willing to take what the Hawkeye defense gives it on offense and keep flipping the field as many times as it takes to get into scoring range. If the Cyclones play disciplined football and don’t give Iowa the ball in their half of the field (Iowa scored 20 points off turnovers last year), they will have the edge.
CFTV: What does Xavier Hutchinson have to say about the Cy-Hawk game for next week? pic.twitter.com/OYQs3a9FK3
— CycloneFanatic.com (@cyclonefanatic) September 3, 2022
The Total is 41 Points. Can Iowa Find an Offense?
If you played Iowa-South Dakota State Under 42.5 last week, you knew very early on that you were cashing that ticket. About the only way, the Hawkeyes were scoring a touchdown last time out was if the defense scored one or South Dakota State gifted them a turnover inside their own 25-yard-line. Even that didn’t work, as the Jackrabbits once allowed Iowa to take over on the SDSU 27 after a poor punt and all the Hawkeyes managed was a missed field goal.
So there’s a ton that needs to be worked out for Iowa to do much of anything on offense in this game. The Hawkeyes would serve themselves well by involving Sam LaPorta in the offense more in this contest. Iowa’s known for tight end production for a reason, but the Hawkeyes only managed nine yards out of LaPorta last week. Granted, part of that was because Petras couldn’t have hit the Iowa River from the campus library last game, but making LaPorta and Luke Lachey a bigger part of the offense might help him settle down with his accuracy. Of course, as Iowa proved last year, none of that matters if the Cyclones screw up on offense, but eventually, that won’t work as a strategy.
— Hawkeye Football (@HawkeyeFootball) September 5, 2022
What Must Iowa State Do to Win?
The biggest thing for Campbell and the Cyclones is to make sure that Hunter Dekkers doesn’t try to do too much. Iowa is going to bring pressure early and often to see if the Hawkeye defense can get into Dekkers’ head the way they did with Brock Purdy last season. Iowa knew that as good as Purdy was, his weakness was that he would turn the ball over if he didn’t have time to make the right decision.
Dekkers hasn’t shown enough film to know if that is true of him as well, but he did toss a pick in the game with Southeast Missouri State and he’s just a redshirt freshman making his first start against an FBS opponent. Iowa would be crazy to not try to get after Dekkers and see if it can make him feel the pressure of trying to come into Kinnick Stadium and leave with a win.
What Must Iowa Do to Win?
Ferentz will no doubt be watching Southeast Missouri State’s opening drive against Iowa State to see how he can replicate it. On the RedHawks’ first possession against the Cyclones, they ran 15 plays and bled more than eight minutes from the clock before finally turning the ball over on downs. Obviously, Ferentz will be hoping not to repeat the ending, but Iowa’s best way to win the game is to keep the clock moving and keep Iowa State from getting in a rhythm offensively. If Southeast Missouri State can keep Iowa State’s offense off the field, that says that Iowa has the ability to repeat that.
Beyond that, the Hawkeyes simply have to have the defense do the same thing they did last week: stay a step ahead of the offense. Iowa can’t count on the offense being stronger; it needs a rock-solid defensive performance to pull out a win here.
Iowa showing off its renovated offense. pic.twitter.com/P71uHl6k2H
— Adam Kramer (@KegsnEggs) September 3, 2022
Which Way Should You Bet On Who Wins the Cy-Hawk Trophy?
According to ClutchBet’s NCAAF futures, the Hawkeyes are more favored going into next season than the Cyclones. We believe the best bet on the board is the under. Iowa isn’t going to get this offense figured out in a week, and even if it does, figuring this offense out does not mean trying to put up huge numbers against Iowa State’s defense. The Hawkeyes want to draw this out, make Iowa State work for its points and hopefully force the Cyclones to hurry themselves to the point where they make a critical mistake.
If I have to make a play on one team to win, I will take Iowa, but I’ll bet it down to -2.5 or even take the Hawkeyes on the money line. These are tight games, and I really don’t want to give more than a field goal with either team. I’d rather pay a bit more juice and make sure that I can get the win in a rivalry game.
It’s Cy-Hawk week pic.twitter.com/J2GwnFbFQO
— Derek Duke (@DerekDuke25) September 5, 2022
Credits on Featured Image: GoIowaState.com on Flickr