#34 Iowa State 2018 Football Preview

Iowa State Cyclones
Overall Rank: #34
#6 Big 12
 Iowa State Logo
Iowa State took the college football world by storm in 2017 as they went into Norman, Oklahoma and shocked the Sooners 38-31 on October 7th. The Cyclones capitalized on that win and went on to win eight games, including a Liberty Bowl victory over Memphis. Head Coach Matt Campbell and his staff have done an excellent job of methodically building a competitive program. Thus, the fans in Ames are highly optimistic about the possibility of Iowa State putting together a strong season with several key players back in 2018.
2017 Record: 8-5, 5-4
2017 Bowl: Liberty Bowl vs. Memphis (21-20 W)
Coach: Matt Campbell (11-14 at Iowa State, 46-29 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Matt Campbell
Defensive Coordinator: Jon Heacock
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: David Montgomery, RB, 1,146 yards
Passing: Kyle Kempf, QB, 1,787 yards
Receiving: Hakeem Butler, WR, 697 yards
Tackles: Marcel Spears Jr, OLB, 107
Sacks: JaQuan Bailey, LEO, 7.0
Interceptions: Two with 2 each
Other Key Returnees: LG Julian Good-Jones, RG Josh Knipfel, RT Bryce Meeker, TE Chase Allen, WR Matthew Eaton, NG Ray Lima, DT Kamilo Tongamoa, OLB Willie Harvey, D’Andre Payne, CB Brian Peavy, FS Lawrence White
Key Losses: WR Allen Lazard, LB Mackenro Alexander, S Kamari Cotton-Moya, P Colin Downing, LB Joel Lanning, WR Marchie Murdock, OL Jake Campos, K Garrett Owens
Kyle Kempf returns at quarterback in 2018 as the NCAA did grant his sixth year of eligibility. Kempf did an excellent job of taking care of the football as he threw 15 touchdowns and only three interceptions last season. David Montgomery is an outstanding running back who rushed for 1,146 yards and eleven touchdowns and will be looking for an even better 2018 season. Kene Nwangwu should be able to contribute as the number two running back after returning from an achillies injury. There is plenty of returning depth at wide receiver as Hakeem Butler, Matt Eaton, and Deshaunte Jones should be able to make up for the loss of Allen Lazard. Chase Allen is going to be an underrated key to this offense as he was second team All-Big-12 at tight end in 2018. Allen will need to catch about 35-40 passes this season for the passing game to really to move forward. The offensive line is a bit of a question mark despite the return of three starters as this unit will need to take that next step forward for the Cyclones to be dynamic offensively this fall.
Iowa State took a big step forward defensively in 2017 as the limited opposing teams to 20.9 points per game and forced a ton of turnovers. That is good formula for success in the Big 12 as the offenses throughout the league are very explosive. Ray Lima will anchor the defensive line at nose tackle and it will be key for Lima to stay healthy, but if he doesn’t there is ample depth at defensive end and defensive tackle. Linebacker should stay stable despite the loss of Joel Lanning. Marcus Spears Jr. should have a chance to surpass 120 tackles in 2018 after racking up 107 tackles last season. JaQuan Bailey will bring plenty of heat off the edge at the Leo position and should be able to equal his seven sacks from 2017 if not go past it. D’Andre Payne, Brian Peavy and Lawrence White should stabilize the secondary with a mix of experience and talent that should keep Big 12 passing attacks in check on most Saturdays.
The Bottom Line:
The Cyclones won’t sneak up on anyone in 2018 but there is enough talent in place to continue to move forward as a program. A trip to Iowa City along with a visit from Oklahoma will be an interesting two week stretch in September. On September 29th, Iowa State will head to Fort Worth to play TCU followed by a trip to Stillwater to play Oklahoma State. If the Cyclones can win a couple games in that gauntlet, it should set them up well for the second half of the season where they play four of their final six at home. Overall, if the offensive line can improve this season to allow the offense to be more balanced you can expect Iowa State to win about to seven to eight games in 2018.
Projected Bowl: Cactus Bowl
2017 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 113.1 (117th in nation, 9th in Conference)
Passing Offense: 272.9 (30, 6)
Total Offense: 386.0 (86, 8)
Scoring Offense: 29.2 (56, 8)
Rushing Defense: 128.0 (23, 4)
Pass Defense: 238.2 (86, 2)
Total Defense: 366.2 (43, 3)
Scoring Defense: 20.9 (26, 2)
Turnover Margin: 0.77 (16, 2)
Sacks: 2.00 (65, 4)
Sacks Allowed: 1.46 (25, 2)
Madness 2019 NFL Draft Rankings:
#57 David Montgomery
Madness 2018 Recruit Rankings:
#193 Joseph Scates