Iowa State takes on former No. 17 TCU in a battle of Big 12 teams on Saturday from Fort Worth. Both teams are unranked and looking for their first conference win. TCU has lost two straight games to Ohio State (40-28) and Texas (31-16) this past Saturday. Iowa State is coming off a 26-13 win over Akron at home after losing two straight to Iowa (13-3) on the road and Oklahoma (37-27) at home. Last season, Iowa State upset TCU at home, 14-7. TCU opened as a 10.5-point favorite. This game will be played on ESPNU at 7pmET.
Offense needs to get in gear
Iowa State is averaging just 18.7 points per game and just 2.7 rushing yards per attempt. That has been the issue this season in their first three games, though the Cyclones did rush for 132 yards on 35 carries in their win over Akron this past Saturday. The game was a close one throughout the first half, with Iowa State leading 17-10 on a David Montgomery 1-yard run with 30 seconds left in the first half. They did not score a touchdown in the second half and needed three short Connor Assalley field goals to win 26-13, after the Zips had cut the lead to 17-13 in the third quarter.
It was the defense that has been the strength of the Cyclones thus far. They recorded 10 tackles for loss, four sacks, seven pass breakups, four quarterback hits and forced two fumbles against Akron. They also held Akron to just 2.7 yards per carry and held quarterback Kato Nelson to 12 of 28 for 153 yards and a pick with a TD.
But the offense was pedestrian-at-best and has been that way this season. One major bright spot is 6-foot-6, 225-pound wide receiver Hakeem Butler, who caught six passes for 88 yards and a TD. Butler has 14 catches for 297 yards (21.2ypc) with three TDs this season.
— Cyclone Football (@CycloneFB) September 22, 2018
The offense is also missing senior quarterback Kyle Kempt (6-6, 224), who played in their loss against Iowa (126 yards passing) and threw for 1,787 yards with 15 TDs and three picks. However, he suffered an injury to his MCL and has missed the last two games. He’s listed as questionable for the TCU game, which means sophomore Zeb Noland is the likely starter. He has completed 68.8 percent of his passes for 636 yards with one INT in part of three games. Against, Oklahoma, Noland threw for 360 yards and two TDs, so he’s certainly capable.
But the offense will be tested against a pretty tough TCU defense, that has struggled against a powerhouse Ohio State team and a talented but inconsistent Texas squad. Running the football will key to take pressure off of Noland, Defensively, Iowa State is allowing 21 points per game, 3.46 yards per carry (122.3ypg) and 222.3 yards per game in the air (136.74 passer rating).
It’s not how you start….
TCU had all the momentum going into halftime. They scored from the one-yard line on a Shawn Robinson pass to Jalen Reagor with six seconds left in the half to take a 13-10 lead over the Longhorns. Quarterback Shawn Robinson led the Horned Frogs down the field in their first possession, but he was picked off by safety Brandon Jones. TCU responded with a 29-yard field goal from Jonathan Song to take a 16-10 lead midway through the third quarter.
But Texas woke up and scored 14 unanswered points to take a 24-16 lead heading into the fourth quarter. After the field goal, the Horned Frogs turned it over on a fumble and an interception in their next two possessions, then missed a field goal down eight points and never recovered. Turnovers were the main issue in this game with Robinson turning it over three times (also a fumble) and the TCU defense forcing none.
“That’s two games in a row you’ve lost 3-0 [or worse] in the turnover department. It’s going to be hard to win ballgames if you do that,” Patterson said. “You can’t give up a big play. When you go on the road, you’ve got to take ballgames. You’ve got to give [Texas coach Tom Herman] and his group a lot of credit for finding a way to win and go from there.”
It was a rough game for Robinson, who completed 17 of 29 for 197 yards with one TD and two picks. He was replaced by Michael Collins, who was 3 for 9 for 34 yards. Robinson has completed 60.3 percent of his passes for 833 yards with six TDs and five picks. He also has run for 176 yards with three TDs. Running back Darius Anderson leads the way with 274 yards rushing and a 7.4 yards per carry average. Reagor is the leading receiver with 22 catches for 284 yards and two TDs.
Offensively, TCU is putting up good numbers despite playing two tough teams in Oklahoma and Texas (also beat SMU and Southern with ease). They are averaging 443.8 yards per game and 206.5 rushing yards. Turnovers are the issue with two lost fumbles and six picks, while forcing just five.
Defensively, they are outstanding on third downs (27.59%), but are allowing 202.8 yards in the air and 127.3 on the ground (3.3ypc). But while they are allowing 22.5 points per game, they’ve allowed 35.5 in their last two games. Against Texas, they gave up 255 yards in the air and 8.0 yards per pass.
- 1-4 ATS last 5 conference games.
- 3-14 ATS last 17 home games.
- 20-6 Under last 26 conference games.
Iowa State is:
- 19-6-1 ATS last 26 overall.
- 6-1-1 ATS last 8 road games.
- 6-0 Under last 6 road games.
- 4-1 Under last 5 in series.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Iowa State plays strong defense that allows them to compete against the elite teams in the Big 12. TCU might not be considered elite right now, especially considering their quarterback issues. Their defense is also not as dominant as they used to be and the turnover problems are hindering them on offense. If Robinson does start, he might be on a short leash with Collins coming off the bench. Iowa State is going to struggle to run the ball against TCU’s defense, but they should be able to pass with Noland or Kempt at quarterback.
Prediction: Iowa State +10.5
Full-Game Total Pick
Iowa State did give up 37 points to Oklahoma but the Sooners are lot more explosive than the Horned Frogs. They also held Iowa to just 13 points on the road so their defense has been sturdy. The Cyclones are not explosive so for them to win and compete, they have to keep the score low. They’ll slow down the running game as they are allowing just 3.46 yards per game, while TCU’s rush defense is impressive.