Date: Saturday, Sept. 21
Kickoff Time: 12 p.m. ET
Location: Jack Trice Stadium, Ames, IA
Watch it here: FS1
Line: Iowa State -18.5, O/U: 56
Series: Iowa State 1-0 (42-7 in 1980)
Turn the page time
The last time we saw Warhawks on the field, they were walking off after a painful one-point loss to Florida State after a PAT in overtime went wide.
Seminoles 45, Warhawks 44.
At the very least, Louisiana-Monroe players and coaches had a week off to allow themselves to feel bad, take a deep breath and put in extra work preparing for their trip to Ames.
Staying with the Seminoles should give ULM confidence that they can contend.
The Cyclones are coming off their own form of heartbreak.
The boys from Ames watched as their arch-enemy Hawkeyes slipped away with the coveted Cy-Hawk Trophy after an 18-17 win for Iowa.
Gone is the ESPN College GameDay caravan from campus. Gone is the exposure and early-season hype of a sometimes-ranked, unheralded bunch climbing into contention in September.
However, that next hurdle comes very quickly in college football.
Iowa State sophomore quarterback Brock Purdy has been efficient, though not overly spectacular so far. He is completing 72 percent of his throws, and hit on a big 73-yard touchdown strike to start the second half last weekend.
The task for the ULM defense will be to stop the run on first down and force Purdy into check-down mode, and make the tackle on short gains.
Running game takes the stage
Many positives emerged in Tallahassee despite the disappointment for ULM fans.
It’s hard to overstate the excitement for and emergence of junior running back Josh Johnson in this Warhawk offense.
Johnson has 299 rushing yards and three touchdowns with an 8.3 yards per carry mark on the young season. That means the O-line is working well, but also that Johnson is hitting his running lanes hard.
They will need his production, and of course, Caleb Evans to be prime-form Caleb Evans in order to get past a Cyclone defense that has been stellar through two games thus far.
The Cyclone defense, as a whole, only allowed 318 total yards from scrimmage last week.
If Iowa State wants separation from their Sun Belt opponent, they must do a better job with their own running game. They could only muster 185 yards over the course of a three-overtime win against Northern Iowa and was held to 91 against the Hawkeyes.
Warhawk defenders need to identify what has worked against the Cyclones early in this season, find that pressure point and press hard.
ULM will be pesky. Count on it.
The game here will be won and lost with how long the Warhawks can keep their offense on the field and wearing down what has to be a physically and emotionally tired Cyclone defense.
The Cyclones will need to get penetration right up the middle and force Evans into mistakes. ULM will make enough plays to keep it interesting.
In the end, however, the Cyclone defense is impressive and will cause problems moving the sticks on a consistent basis.
Expect lots of sweaty Cyclone fans once again.
Unfortunately, expect another “so-close” encounter from the guys down in Monroe.