3 keys and a score prediction for Iowa State football against TCU

Iowa State defensive coordinator Jon Heacock talks to his players after the annual Iowa State Cyclones football spring game at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, Iowa, on Saturday, April 22, 2023. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

Saturday evening’s Large 12 soccer sport at Jack Trice Stadium is pivotal to each groups’ success transferring ahead.

TCU might be hungry to show its three-point losses this season are flukes, and Iowa State wants a win as a way to hold nurturing reasonable hopes they will ultimately obtain bowl eligibility for the sixth time prior to now seven seasons.

ISU head coach Matt Campbell has praised his younger group’s development because it nears the halfway level of the season, however progress must translate to raised outcomes shortly — particularly coming off a 30-point loss to Oklahoma.

The Cyclones are unlikely to run into an offense as potent as Oklahoma’s till at the least the Texas sport, however TCU’s able to hanging in comparable methods. Maintaining that offense beneath management will go a great distance towards proving ISU can discover sufficient wins on the remaining schedule to complete within the prime half of the new-look Large 12.

Listed below are three keys to victory for the Cyclones.

1. Iowa State’s protection wants to provide strain

The Cyclones sacked Northern Iowa quarterback Theo Day 5 occasions of their 30-9 season-opening win, however have managed to take down a quarterback simply thrice within the ensuing 4 video games.

So it’s clear ISU’s three-man entrance — which options three new starters — isn’t chopping it. The Cyclones typically convey a linebacker or security on their go rushes, too, however even these efforts have been largely thwarted by FBS offensive strains.

The right way to enhance that scenario? Clearly, extra artistic and/or dangerous blitz packages might be deployed, however that’s a dicey proposition when your protection relies on goading opposing quarterbacks into making errors that doom drives earlier than they will produce factors.

TCU quarterback Chandler Morris additional complicates any attainable plan to take extra probabilities with the go rush due to his skill to run — whether or not designed or improvised. It’s a thorny difficulty for ISU’s protection, however coordinator Jon Heacock’s offered ample proof prior to now that he could make changes that beget large enhancements. So we’ll see what he dials up this week in opposition to the Horned Frogs.

2. Iowa State’s offense must unfold the sphere

ISU lastly established a powerful operating sport within the first half within the 50-20 loss at Oklahoma and that’s largely as a result of the offense used each inch of the sphere to assault Oklahoma State in a 34-27 win the earlier week.

The Sooners’ protection was the primary the Cyclones have confronted this season that selected to not stack the field, and ISU racked up 121 speeding yards earlier than halftime as Abu Sama and others got here alive behind a reinvigorated offensive line.

That manufacturing within the run sport withered within the second half, clearly, as a result of the Cyclones had fallen behind by greater than two scores. But it surely might ratchet up once more this week if quarterback Rocco Becht has time to search out playmakers corresponding to Jaylin Noel and Jayden Higgins for giant downfield beneficial properties.

⧉ Associated article: Jaylin Noel establishes himself because the Cyclones’ most constant big-play menace

Noel caught a 51-yard landing go in opposition to the Sooners and Higgins later scored on a 67-yard strike — ISU’s longest play from scrimmage this season. That pattern should proceed if the Cyclones hope to lastly discover prolonged success and at the least a semblance of steadiness offensively.

3. Again to zero

Turnovers and a blocked punt basically gave Oklahoma 16 factors in final week’s loss — and all of these miscues got here early to assist the Sooners open up an insurmountable lead.

ISU’s margin for error on each side of the ball is vanishingly small and it merely can not win if it turns the ball over greater than the opposition. The Cyclones have slipped right into a tie for fiftieth nationally in turnover margin and the losses will proceed to pile up if that downside isn’t solved.

Prediction for Iowa State vs. TCU

The Horned Frogs are 0-2 in one-score video games this season after successful a slew of them en path to being routed by Georgia within the nationwide championship sport final January.

The Cyclones’ principally younger protection stands at a crossroads after being torched by Oklahoma final week. How will they reply? Fairly effectively, I’d count on, based mostly on Heacock’s observe document. ISU’s offense does simply sufficient to eke out an upset.

Iowa State 31, TCU 28

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