2019 Iowa State Cyclones Football Predictions and Odds to Win National Championship
I am very surprised that Matt Campbell is back for a fourth year as head coach at Iowa State. He did a very good job at Toledo, and he's done very well here as well. He reportedly turned down an interview with the New York Jets, and he surely had other programs looking at him this offseason. The Cyclones are lucky to have kept him around. He's coming off two straight 8-5 seasons with this team, and at 6-3 in the Big 12 they were only one win short of making the Championship Game. They have some big losses to deal with this year, but the pieces are in place for another solid season - and probably more attempts to get Campbell on another team.
2018 in a Nutshell
Things started horribly, as the Cyclones were 1-3 in the first month. They lost at Iowa in their opener, lost by 10 to Oklahoma at home, and fell a field goal short at TCU. The only win in the stretch was a win against Akron. A five-game winning streak will change things in a hurry, though, and Iowa State got just that by taking advantage of a weak stretch of Big 12 games - at Oklahoma State, West Virginia, Texas Tech, at Kansas, Baylor. They faltered at Texas but bounced back to close out the season with wins over Kansas State and Drake. They earned a date with Washington State in the Alamo Bowl and lost a heartbreaker 28-26 when a late two-point attempt to tie things up failed.
Key Additions and Departures
The good news, I guess, is that the team had only two players drafted. The problem, though, is that they were two of the best players ever to be on the team. Running back David Montgomery, who went to the Bears in the third round, rushed for 1,216 yards and 13 scores last year. Fourth-round receiver Hakeem Butler, who will be catching passes from Kyler Murray in Arizona this year, gained 1,318 yards while averaging a gaudy 22 yards per catch - the best in the nation for any player with at least 35 catches - and scoring nine times. They leave big holes in the offense. But QB Brock Purdy, who took over as a true freshman last year after the 1-3 start and went 7-2 the rest of the way, is back, and he will be protected by an offensive line that returns intact and features four seniors. They have some decent talent at wide receiver and a really good group of tight ends, and they also have some options at running back. The truth is that even with those two offensive stars, this was a long way from an elite offense last year, so they don't need to blow teams out offensively to win. That helps their case this year.
The defense, the strength of the team, is in good shape. The entire defensive line, the best part of this team, is back intact, and the whole front seven is experienced. The corners are changing, and four-year starter Brian Peavy will really be missed, but they do have options who have played, and veteran and talented safeties will help.
The recruiting class ranked 46th nationally, which was an improvement from 55th last year. It was sixth in the Big 12, which was one step up from the prior season. The class features two four-star players, and they are both running backs - Jirehl Brock and Breece Hall. Both guys will have a chance to prove they are ready for playing time with Montgomery gone.
Biggest Area of Concern
When an offense that wasn't great overall - they ranked 82nd nationally in scoring - loses two very talented and productive guys like Montgomery and Butler, you can't help but be concerned. They weren't very good overall with them, so how will they be without them? Brock Purdy was impressive as a freshman and should take a step forward with an offseason of preparation. But will that be enough, and will other guys step up?
Iowa State Cyclones Schedule Analysis
The nonconference schedule is solid. They host Northern Iowa and ULM in very likely wins and get Iowa at home in their annual showdown. There's no drama to the schedule in a 10-team league when you play nine games. They have to play five road games this year, but only the visit to Oklahoma is daunting - Baylor, West Virginia, Texas Tech and Kansas State are all vulnerable. They play Texas at home the week after going to Oklahoma, so the team will have to be on the ball then. That doesn't come until Nov. 9, though, so they have a lot of time to find their game.
2019-20 Iowa State Cyclones Betting Odds and Trends
BetOnline lists National Championship odds for 27 teams, and Iowa State is not one of them. They are the third choice to win the Big 12 at Bovada at +800, trailing Oklahoma at -125 and Texas at +300. There are no divisions in the Big 12, so you only need to finish in the top two to make the Championship Game. If one of the two favorites falter, Iowa State could be poised to take advantage.
2019-20 Iowa State Cyclones Predictions and College Football Picks
I like this team. The schedule is favorable, the offense has a chance to be as good as it needs to be, and the defense could be really solid. They are very well coached and should be able to match their win total of the last two years - eight - with little struggle. The upside feels like double-digit wins, though there is little margin for error because of having to play Texas and Oklahoma. I am cautiously optimistic, though I don't think they have a legitimate shot of winning the conference.
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