The No. 10 Iowa football team will face off against No. 9 Iowa State on Saturday in the first-ever ranked matchup between the two teams.
The Cyclones started the season with a victory against the University of Northern Iowa, 16-10, in Ames on Sept. 4, while the Hawkeyes took down then-No. 17 Indiana, 34-6, at Kinnick Stadium.
The Daily Iowan previews the Cy-Hawk game ahead of the 3:36 p.m. kickoff on Saturday at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames. The game will be aired nationally on ABC, and ESPN will host the pregame show, College GameDay, starting at 8 a.m.
The annual Cy-Hawk football rivalry will host two of the top running backs in the nation: Cyclone Breece Hall and Hawkeye Tyler Goodson.
The last time the Hawkeyes and Cyclones met in 2019, Goodson and Hall were true freshmen seeing their third-ever collegiate game and biding time on the sidelines. In the 18-17 Hawkeye win, Goodson notched three rushing attempts for 16 yards and Hall carried the ball once for a net zero yards.
Following the Cy-Hawk matchup, both Goodson and Hall had breakout freshmen seasons.
Goodson led the Hawkeyes his true freshman year with 638 rushing yards, and Hall topped the Cyclone leaderboard, rushing for 897. Hall got an edge on Goodson in their sophomore seasons in 2020, as the Cyclones played 12 games compared to the Hawkeyes’ eight.
While Goodson garnered first-team All-Big Ten honors in 2020, Hall became the Cyclones’ first unanimous first-team All-American.
Now, two years later, Goodson and Hall are the focal points of their respective teams.
In Iowa’s 2021 season opener, a 34-6 victory against then-No. 17 Indiana, Goodson rushed for 99 yards on 19 attempts — an average of 5.2 yards per carry. Goodson will have to go up against a veteran Cyclone defense that allowed just 104.3 rushing yards per game last season — eighth-best in the nation.
In Iowa State’s season opener, a 16-10 win over the UNI, Hall netted 72 yards on 23 attempts — 3 yards per carry. Iowa allowed 107.6 rushing yards per game last season, and in Week 1 held Indiana to 77 yards on the ground.
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Getting to know the Cyclones
The DI talked with Iowa State Daily Sports Editor Matt Belinson to preview Saturday’s Cy-Hawk matchup at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames.
The Daily Iowan: Iowa State’s defense is not one the Hawkeyes run into very often. What can you tell us about the Cyclones’ defense?
Belinson: Yeah, I think unique would be probably the best way to describe it. Although, you know, if you’re talking to defensive coordinator John Heacock or [head coach] Matt Campbell over the last year and a half, they’ve definitely taken notice that a lot of teams in college football have actually been trying to copy their style. It’s been working pretty effectively in the Big 12, a conference that has had the reputation, fair or not, of being exactly known for its defense. But yeah, you’re right, I would say it presents a unique challenge on defense with that 3-3-5. But this defense is going to create problems in terms of how the Hawkeyes are going to at least be able to run with Tyler [Goodson], you know, we’ll see with what effectiveness on Saturday.
DI: Goodson described Breece Hall as a big dude, a run between the tackles type of guy, and [Goodson] is more of a pass-catching finesse type of back. Would you agree with that assessment?
Belinson: Oh, 100 percent … If you take into account his effect in the passing game, that’s a wrinkle that [Hall] was not really involved in, in his Heisman-contending season last year. So yeah, I would agree with Tyler’s assessment. That’s kind of the running back style that Iowa State likes to recruit, you know, obviously the David Montgomery’s before Breece. That’s kind of what they’re known for is they like to kind of get down and dirty. They like to kind of get hit and then you know, bounce off tackles and kind of take off if they can.
DI: Cyclone tight end Charlie Kolar missed Iowa State’s season-opener against University of Northern Iowa last week. Is he healthy this week, and looks to go?
Belinson: Yeah, by all indications Matt Campbell said he practiced on Monday. [Kolar] had an ankle issue and had a brace on during warmups. During Saturday, he did not play. But by all indications it seems like he’s going to give it a go.
DI: You’ve watched Kolar for the last three years now. Clearly, he’s asserting himself as the weapon other than maybe Breece Hall on this offense. What does he do that makes him so difficult to guard for opposing defenses?
Belinson: If you go back through Charlie’s career, for a majority of his touchdowns it’s usually just him ripping the ball just out of the soul of a defender. I mean, he’s 6-foot-6, 260. Any matchup that you’re gonna throw at him, he’s likely just physically superior. So that’s one advantage that he brings. Hall is the main weapon for this offense, but Breece himself on Tuesday said that, with Charlie coming back, he feels like that opens up things for him. You know, Charlie usually demands two to three guys when he’s on the field. And that opens up things for Bruce in the run game.
DI: What’s your pick for Saturday’s game?
Belinson: I already got a lot of hate for this in the office, but I don’t really care. I believe it. I picked Iowa to win. I think the Hawkeyes proved that their defense has been their strength for quite a while now. But I think [the Hawkeyes] proved on Saturday that they’re probably one of the best defenses in the Big Ten. And I just can’t see Iowa State’s offense, as much as Charlie Kolar, him coming back improves what [the Cyclones] can do. I don’t see them being able to just relentlessly attack the Hawkeyes enough to win. That being said, I expect a better game from Breece Hall. I expect the offense to put more points on the board. But in the end, I think Iowa’s going to pull out of this one with a victory. And my official prediction is Iowa’s going to win 24-20.
This has been edited for length and clarity. Find the full interview with Belinson on the DI’s podcast “The Scoreboard.”
Keys to the game
Getting past the Hawkeye secondary. If the Cyclones could trip up senior cornerbacks Riley Moss and Matt Hankins, Iowa State could utilize the air raid to come out on top Saturday.
Strong offensive blocking. If Hawkeye junior center Tyler Linderbaum can anchor the rotating cast of offensive lineman to create holes in the Cyclone defensive line, Iowa can use its run game — and Goodson — to its fullest extent.