Iowa State head football coach Matt Campbell celebrates with his players after the Cyclones scored a touchdown in the second quarter against Oklahoma State on Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021, at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames.
In the second piece of a 10-part series previewing the Iowa State football season, Chris Williams, Jared Stansbury, Brent Blum and Connor Ferguson dive into Iowa State’s schedule and peg the Cyclones’ biggest trap game of 2022.
Chris Williams: Here is the problem with labeling anything as a “trap game” for this version of Iowa State Football … the spread in nearly every game this season will be in the single digits, pro or against the Cyclones.
This means that other than probably SEMO and Kansas, any result of any game wouldn’t be shocking.
But in the spirit of the question, I’ll go with Kansas State at home on Oct. 8.
I believe most fans think of that as a “win” without knowing much about the Wildcats, but I’m a believer in Chris Klieman as at the very least, a solid football coach.
Iowa State tends to get better as the season gets older. This is a young Cyclone football team that could take a while to marinate.
Of all of those early games, this one seems like the one Iowa State is most likely to lose as a favorite. I believe Iowa State will be an underdog to Iowa and Baylor leading up to it.
Jared Stansbury: I know what I’m about to say is going to sound ridiculous, but that game in Lawrence on Oct. 1 might have the potential to be scarier than anybody realizes.
Kansas has been really active in the transfer portal and has significantly turned over the roster. Obviously, we don’t know if that means much since it seems like the Jayhawks have gone through a roster overhaul on an annual basis for the last decade-plus.
With that said, we don’t know what this Iowa State team will be early in the season. Maybe they’ll buck the trend and get off to a fast start, but we’ve never seen that from a Matt Campbell team at Iowa State.
October is when Campbell’s teams generally come together to start playing their best ball, but Lance Leipold is a damn good coach and if he’s got more talent at his disposal than he did last season, it wouldn’t shock me to see the Jayhawks playing solid ball at that point, too.
They’ll be confident Iowa State is a team they could beat, especially at home, if their early-season vibes are good. I certainly would not pick Iowa State to lose to Kansas until I see the Jayhawks show some semblance of a consistent pulse against Big 12 competition, but the trap game potential is certainly there.
Jeff Woody: Based on the last few years, my first instinct would be to say the very first game!
ISU isn’t known for strong starts to seasons. But the talent level is substantially different between SEMO and ISU, and the discipline that comes with the Campbell staff should make that game seem comfortable, although I don’t think it will be comfortable the entire game.
But the real potential trap game this season—despite the rivalry it has become—is Kansas State.
K-State is always hard to beat, simply because they usually don’t make enough mistakes to give away a game. And, by this time, you’re probably going to win against SEMO, 50/50 with Iowa, probably going to beat Ohio, 50/50 with Baylor and probably going to get Kansas.
So after that start, you’re 3-2 on the low end, and not unrealistic to look at 5-0 if *everything* bounces your way on the high end.
Then you have a tricky K-State, right before Texas, Bye week, OU. Handle your business and you are anywhere between 4-2 and 6-0. Don’t, and you’re 3-3 going into Texas.
Brent Blum: Let’s be honest, there is still a part of Cyclone fandom that thinks every game is a trap game.
But one of the best parts of the Campbell era has been the ability to take care of business, especially at home. Iowa State is 16-1 at Jack Trice Stadium in the last 17 conference games.
That is simply incredible.
K-State is an obvious choice here, but I’ll throw in Texas Tech as one of those programs that are a complete mystery. New coach with a bunch of new players and I remain haunted by that approximately 89-yard field goal in Lubbock a year ago.
The Red Raiders could go 8-4 or 3-9, nothing would surprise me and that game on November 19th will be an expected Iowa State win, yet Tech could throw a curve ball.
Connor Ferguson: With Iowa State’s schedule this season, I think a trap game almost has to come at home.
Aside from a matchup with Kansas, the away games are high-profile tests where the unexpected would be the Cyclones being favored. I think the time for a trap game will come against West Virginia.
Iowa State very well could have come back from Morgantown with a win last season and likely will be favored when the Mountaineers come to Ames this year.
I think that will be a game that many expect to win.
I opted not to go with Kansas State because it’s likely that the Wildcats will be 4-1 or 5-0 when they play Iowa State. I think KSU will have some momentum towards the rankings by that point in the season, at least.