AMES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa made it painfully obvious how far Iowa State had fallen behind its Big Ten rivals last season, whipping the Cyclones by 39 points.
Iowa State and second-year coach Matt Campbell are eager to show the visiting Hawkeyes (1-0) on Saturday that they’ve closed that gap.
The Cyclones (1-0) have won three of their last four games dating back to the end of last season. And although those wins came against struggling Kansas and Texas Tech, and Northern Iowa of the FCS, the Cyclones are markedly improved since being embarrassed 42-3 in Iowa City a year ago.
“They were trying to understand us, and we were trying to understand them,” Campbell said of his 2016 team. “I don’t think there’s any hiding. We weren’t a very good football team a year ago — especially early in the season.”
Iowa’s defense led the way in a 24-3 win over Wyoming last weekend, overcoming three turnovers from new starting quarterback Nate Stanley — though he also threw three TDs passes in just 15 attempts.
The Hawkeyes might have the best front seven that Iowa State will face all season, putting pressure on its rebuilt offensive line to help establish a running game and free up space for Jacob Park, who was 27-of-35 passing for 271 yards and two TDs last week.
Here are some keys to consider as Iowa State and Iowa prepare to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the series’ renewal in 1977.