Last time in Ames, the Hawkeyes made it five in a row in the Cy-Hawk series. | Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images
The Cy-Hawk game will be close, low-scoring and, considering how wide-open college offenses have become, an old-schooler’s delight.
Iowa State split two classic games with Big 12 bully Oklahoma, manhandled Pac-12 champion Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl and ended the 2020 season ranked in the top 10.
One can only assume the Cyclones would’ve had a fine chance to halt a bitter five-game losing streak against Iowa had only the teams played their annual rivalry game for the 44th year in a row. Instead, the Big Ten’s conference-only schedule in a pandemic season left Little Brother in Ames wondering what might’ve been.
Well, the answer is upon us. ESPN’s College GameDay crew will be outside Jack Trice Stadium for No. 10 Iowa (+4½) at No. 9 Iowa State (3:30 p.m., Ch. 7). Inside, big, hungry, emotional dudes will bump bellies and trade helmet paint with the Cy-Hawk Trophy on the line.
“Everyone will be talking about the state of Iowa,” Hawkeyes coach Kirk Ferentz said, “so that’s a good thing.”
It’ll be close, low-scoring and, considering how wide-open college offenses have become, an old-schooler’s delight. Whether or not Iowa running back Tyler Goodson was right to call this Iowa State’s “Super Bowl” — disrespectful? — the Hawkeyes will have their hands full.
Both defenses are rugged. Remember the names of Cyclones tight ends Charlie Kolar and Chase Allen — 6-6, 260 and 6-7, 250, respectively, and made for the NFL. Add a mobile four-year starter in quarterback Brock Purdy and a star running back in Breece Hall, and the Cyclones have the edge offensively. Streak over, 23-17.
At least the Big Ten always has Ohio State to hang its hat on. No. 12 Oregon (+14½) at No. 3 Ohio State (11 a.m., Fox-32) is one of the sexiest non-conference games of the season.
Last time the teams met, seven seasons ago, the Buckeyes dismantled the Ducks in the first College Football Playoff title game. The Ducks haven’t been the same since, but they’re back on the uptick and have a monster in defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux who can take over any game, anytime. Except, perhaps, for this game, this time. Think of Thibodeaux as a West Coast version of Chase Young — one of the greatest Buckeyes to ever do it — but he has a sprained ankle and likely will be limited if he plays.
Still, Oregon’s recruiting has been lights-out the last few years. On both sides of the ball, the Ducks can run like no team Ohio State will see in the Big Ten.
“We have to understand that it’s not just going to happen in the first five minutes of the game,” Buckeyes coach Ryan Day said. “We’re in for a battle here for 60 minutes.”
Maybe not 60. Go Bucks, 38-24.
Illinois needs to really bring it in Charlottesville.
OTHER WEEK 2 PICKS
Illinois (+10) at Virginia (10 a.m., ACC, 890-AM): Is this the right game or the wrong game at this time for the Illini? It’s certainly an opportunity for Bret Bielema’s team to show what it’s made of after a win against Nebraska followed by a loss to UTSA, but road games out of conference have been brutal experiences for the Illini for a long time. A battle with a middling ACC team? Come on, that’s not so scary. Cavs in a tight one.
Indiana State (+26½) at Northwestern (11 a.m., BTN, 720-AM): Larry Bird isn’t running out of that tunnel for the Sycamores. (Look, just pretend he was great at football, too.) It’s a total mismatch, but that’s just what Pat Fitzgerald’s defense needs after the shredding Michigan State did in the opener in Evanston. Wildcats, 34-10.
Wyoming (+7) at Northern Illinois (12:30 p.m., ESPN+, 560-AM): The Huskies are flying high after a shocking win at Georgia Tech, but the Cowboys have some ballers on offense. Upset alert.
Toledo (+17) at No. 8 Notre Dame (1:30 p.m, Peacock, 780-AM): How gassed are the Irish after their 41-38 overtime win at Florida State? It was a short week for them, too. Irish by 14.
Washington (+6½) at Michigan (7 p.m., Ch. 7): Everything makes more sense when you have a quarterback, and the Wolverines just might have that guy in Cade McNamara. The Huskies are coming off a humiliating 13-7 loss to Montana, but they’ve got more juice defensively than most Big Ten teams. Go Blue, 23-13.
No. 21 Utah (-7) at BYU (9:15 p.m., ESPN): It’s the best rivalry nickname of them all: the Holy War. The Utes have won nine straight head-to-head, and there’s nothing holy about that kind of abuse. Make it 10, by 10.
My favorite favorite: Kentucky (-5) vs. Missouri (6:30 p.m., SEC): The Wildcats are going to be a tough out for anybody in the SEC East. A basketball school? OK, yeah, but please.
My favorite underdog: Connecticut (+35) vs. Purdue (2 p.m., CBSSN): The Huskies have already fired their coach. They’re unimaginably terrible. Yet it’s our sworn duty to take a five-touchdown underdog at home.
Last week: 5-5 straight-up, 6-4 vs. the spread.
Season to date: Same.