Iowa State is 0-2 in Big 12 play for the first time since 2018, and that’s a head-scratcher to fans across College football.
After all, conference play is in full effect during the month of October. And that’s the time when Matt Campbell has his Cyclones playing their best football. There’s no denying that when Campbell is a jaw-dropping, 16-4 during the Halloween month over the last six years.
However, the Cyclones are on a two-game losing streak, and are one of three winless teams in conference play. Although Iowa State’s defense has played championship level football up to this point, the offense has sputtered. The Cyclones are numero uno in the league, and eighth in the FBS in total defense.
That type of production is more than enough to win several games, but when the offense is a liability a team stays stuck in neutral. Iowa State is dead last in the Big 12, and 84th in the nation in total offense. It’s mind-boggling that the Cyclones scored in the 40s in two of their first three games. That’s mainly due to the competition.
Quarterback Hunter Dekkers performed like an All-American against the likes of Southeast Missouri State and Ohio. He combined for 561 yards through the air, seven touchdown tosses and an interception in those two contests. The sophomore gunslinger has struggled against Power Five competition though.
Dekkers combined for 755 passing yards, five touchdown tosses and five interceptions against Iowa, Baylor and Kansas. It’s clear that the young quarterback is suffering through some growing pains in his first season as the Cyclones’ starter. He’s almost becoming a liability to the team.
Still, if Dekkers can avoid the costly turnovers and utilize the weapons around him, Iowa State will be in great shape. Unfortunately, this is a time when the offense could use the leadership of former Cyclones Brock Purdy, Breece Hall, Charlie Kolar and Chase Allen.
Regardless of the matter, wideout Xavier Hutchinson is a veteran, who’s having an All-American caliber campaign in 2022. He leads the entire FBS in receptions per game, and is first in the Big 12 in receiving yards. Campbell should expect opposing defenses to double cover Hutchinson with a blanketing safety to take away the deep ball. So another pass catcher must step up.
Junior running back Jirehl Brock started out on fire, with two 100-yard performances in the first two games. He has been held in check over the last three contests, and combined for 157 yards on the ground against the Bobcats, Bears and Jayhawks.
Iowa State (3-2) is in desperate need of better protection up front from the big boys. The Cyclones have allowed 12 sacks this fall, which is tied for 88th in the country. Campbell is going to need more consistency from the offense. Struggling to run the ball, has put more pressure on Dekkers, plus the defense is staying on the field too long.
The Big 12 is full of offensive firepower, and a ranked Kansas State team is up next. The Cyclones have won the last two games in the series, and outscored the Wildcats 78-20 in those matchups. So Kansas State will be coming to Jack Trice Stadium with a chip on its’ shoulder. And the Wildcats’ defense knows how to get to the quarterback.
This clash will be a great measuring stick to see if Iowa State’s offense has improved, and if there’s any October magic left in Campbell and his players.