Texas Tech @ Iowa State
Much like Manhattan, Kansas, Ames, Iowa is a tough place for opposing teams to play, regardless of how good the Cyclones are in any given year. But this year, ISU will take enough of a step back talent-wise to be vulnerable at home and they will fall to a Red Raider team that will be picking up momentum over the course of the season’s second half.
Gone are ISU stalwarts QB Brock Purdy, RB Breece Hall, and TE Charlie Kolar. That’s a ton of offensive firepower for the Cyclones to replace.
The question will be whether, by this point in the year, former 4-star QB signee Hunter Dekkers will have settled into his role as the leader of the ISU offense. Fortunately for him, he’ll still have all-conference WR Xavier Hutchinson to throw to.
On defense, edge rusher and ISU all-time sacks leader Will McDonald IV is back but the Cyclones still have a ton of talent to replace. And by this time in the year, the Tech offense could be humming along, especially after consecutive wins.
I just can’t get over the fact that last year, the most talented ISU team in history went just 7-6 and lost to a Tech team that had a freshman QB making his first career start while playing for an interim head coach. This year, Tech will be better than last year and Iowa State will be worse than last year. But one factor beyond anyone’s control could tilt this game.
The wildcard could be the weather, which is always unpredictable in Ames in mid-November. Hopefully, Tech gets the benefit of a nice day on that front as the Red Raiders don’t normally perform well in poor weather. If Mother Nature agrees with Tech and the offensive line can keep McDonald at bay, it will be a seventh win for the Red Raiders.