Iowa St Cyclones 2023 College Football Preview
July 17, 2023
Record – 4-8
ATS – 5-7
The Cyclones jumped out to a 3-0 start that included a win over their hated rivals from Iowa City (W 10-7). Things looked great, and then the season went GLUG GLUG GLUG down the drain as the Cyclones lost their next five games, four of them by one score. In fact, they only bagged one more win the rest of the way (West Virginia) and ended up with their first losing season since Matt Campbell’s first year in Ames (2016).
Iowa St Cyclones 2023 Outlook
The Cyclones were a HOT MESS on offense LY and ranked dead last in the Big 12 in scoring offense (20.2 PPG) and total offense (370 YPG). Nine starters are back on offense but they lose their most explosive player (by a wide margin) in star WR Xavier Hutchinson (1,171, 10.9, 6 TD). QB Hunter Dekkers has the tools to get things done (3,044, 19-14 TD to INT) but he needs to cut down on mistakes and do a better job of stretching the field (6.7 YPA LY). Getting the medium to deep THROW GAME working will be key for this offense and at least they return their #2,#3 and #4 WRs. The RB room is deep with three of the top-four back for battle but it’s unclear if they have a true #1 workhorse like so many Iowa St teams of the past. The OL returns four starters and has good size but they’ve gotta be a lot better this season (3.3 YPC LY, #118 FBS).
Iowa St wasted a great performance from the defense LY as they allowed a mere 286 YPG (#4 FBS) (!) and just 178 YPG thru the air (#10). Six starters are retained on defense including their top-two tacklers (LB Gerry Vaughn, safety Beau Freyler) but there’s a yuuuge hole to be filled given the graduation of All-Galaxy DE Will McDonald who was taken in the first round of the NFL draft (J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS). The DL has good size and you know they’ll be tough vs the run as Iowa St has allowed an average of just 119 rushing YPG (!) over the last six seasons. The secondary appears to be the strength of the defense, and overall, we’re pretty happy with this side of the football. The only weakness we see is the ability to achieve PENETRATION as these guys only tallied 18 sacks LY (last Big 12).
The Cyclones return all the key components on special teams but they were rotten in 2022. The intrepid PHIL STEELE rated them as the #126 unit in the country LY. PK Jace Gilbert needs to get his eyes checked (12-20 FG LY).
Overall – They’ve got the usual date with Iowa on the non-conference menu and that game is in Ames this season. The Cyclones draw all four of the Big 12 BIG ‘UNS and play two of them at home (TCU, Texas) and two of them ON THE HIGHWAY (Oklahoma, Kansas St).
Potential ATS Trouble Spot – at Ohio (Sept 16)
The Bobcats have an elite QB and they’ll be looking to avenge LY’s blowout loss in Ames. Also note that this game pops up in a tricky sandwich situation for the Cyclones (Iowa, Oklahoma St).
Season Win Total
Market consensus July 17
Over 5.5 +110
Under 5.5 -130
These guys almost always overachieve but they’ve got one of the toughest conference schedules in the Big 12 and they’re not exactly loaded on offense. They’ll probably find a way to grind out six wins and get to a bowl game but we’re not gonna bet on it.
HC Matt Campbell has a great ATS record in the role of underdog. He’s 10-4-1 at home, 11-7-1 on the road, and 2-2 in bowl action. That breaks out to a mark of 23-13-2 ATS (64%).
It’s not usually a good idea to dismiss the ability to Iowa St to do damage in the Big 12, but no matter how we look at it, this has the look of an average team that’ll win between five and seven games. We believe that the offense will have to make a significant leap forward for the Cyclones to do any better than that, but we’ve been wrong before. We’ll call for a 6-6 season and a trip back to a bowl game. Go get ’em, men!