Iowa State running back Deon Silas (22) attempts to break through the line during the game at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, Iowa on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022. The Cyclones defeated the Bobcats, 43-10. © Margaret Kispert/The Register / USA TODAY NETWORK
We’ve made it to Big 12 play, Fanatics.
With the arrival of full-on conference play this week, I strongly urge you to really enjoy what we see from the league this season. The round-robin scheduling format has made the league an absolute treat to cover on a year-to-year basis.
The Big 12 is the only power conference in the country where we find out if every team in the league can beat the others because it is the only power league where every team plays every other team in the league.
We will not have that much longer with the impending additions of BYU, Houston, UCF and Cincinnati.
Soak in this one last 10-team race to Dallas.
*** It would have been difficult to script a follow-up to Iowa State’s first Cy-Hawk win in eight years better than what we saw on Saturday against Ohio. The Cyclones made it clear they were the better team from the moment the game started.
Iowa State ran 11 plays on its opening drive. They gained positive yardage on 10 of those plays. The only play they didn’t gain positive yards on was an incomplete pass on a 1st and 10.
That dominant drive set the tone for the rest of the afternoon.
*** Iowa State’s special teams units still make me nervous. The Cyclones had two punts blocked against Iowa and a point after attempt blocked against Ohio.
Those are on top of the kickoff coverage unit showing a few holes whenever Jace Gilbert isn’t able to boom the ball into the end zone.
These are the issues that I imagine have had Matt Campbell pulling his hair out over the last two weeks. They need to be fixed sooner rather than later.
If they’re not fixed, they will be the difference between Iowa State winning and losing a football game at some point this season. I don’t know when, but it will happen.
*** I’ve got two dawgs of the week awards to hand out…
– Sean Shaw: Jeff Woody and I talked about Shaw during last week’s episode of Football (And Random Things), and then he went out and had one of his best games in recent memory. The senior caught five passes for 54 yards and scored an impressive touchdown by leaping over a defender in the win over the Bobcats. He’s finally fully healthy and looks to be a legitimate threat on the outside opposite Xavier Hutchinson.
– Deon Silas: The 5-foot-8 sophomore running back had flown a little under the radar so far this season with Jirehl Brock and Eli Sanders earning the lion’s share of the carries to this point. Brock responded on Saturday by posting 58 yards and a score on 10 carries. Once Cartevious Norton returns from injury, Iowa State will have four more than reliable options at tailback.
*** It would be a mistake on my part not to mention Anthony Johnson’s first collegiate interception. What a play that was from a guy we’ve come to expect to come up big when the time is right.
I’m not sure there’s a player on Iowa State’s roster who has done more to prove their worth to the team through three weeks than the man who wears No. 1 in the defensive backfield.
*** A quick shoutout to Allen Lazard and Breece Hall. Hall scored his first NFL touchdown during the Jets’ win over the Browns. Lazard scored his first touchdown of the season in the Packers’ win over the Bears.
What is the record for most touchdowns scored by former Iowa State players in an NFL season? I have a feeling we’re going to see that record threatened this year with those two and David Montgomery all playing featured roles for their teams.
Montgomery was fantastic last night tallying 122 yards on 15 carries in Chicago’s losing effort.
*** How about those Kansas Jayhawks? They’re 3-0 this week after beating Houston in a game that wasn’t even as close as the 18-point differential would indicate.
Funny story, my best friend Leif and his wife, Jess, are expecting their first child later this fall. Over the summer he was planning a diaper kegger (something I didn’t know existed until he told me it did) for before the baby comes. He originally wanted to schedule it for Oct. 1, the same day Iowa State visits Kansas.
He didn’t believe me at the time, but I had to convince him that game will probably be too big for this reporter to miss. Lance Leipold and Co. have proven me to be correct.
The Jayhawks will host Duke this week in a battle of unbeaten basketball schools. Kansas will have a legit shot at being 4-0 when Iowa State visits in two weeks.
If there weren’t already four games scheduled for that day between currently ranked teams, I’d say there’s a chance something like College Gameday could make a trip to Lawrence, especially if Iowa State is able to handle business against Baylor this week.
Wouldn’t a battle of undefeated Iowa State and undefeated Kansas during the first weekend in October really be something?
*** One last thing… If you’re looking for stakes going into Saturday’s Iowa State and Baylor game, remember the fact the winner of this game has played for the Big 12 title in each of the last three seasons.
Baylor won in 2019 then lost to Oklahoma in Dallas. Iowa State won in 2020 then lost to Oklahoma in Dallas. Baylor won in 2021 then beat Oklahoma State in Dallas.
I’m not saying this season will have a similar end-of-league-play result, but it goes to show how a win in this game can be a springboard into the rest of the conference slate.
This will be one of the biggest under-the-radar games on this week’s college football slate.