Matt Campbell has earned the respect of the college football world, as evidenced by his Iowa State Cyclones appearing at number 19 in the Franchise Top 25.
Brock Purdy returns at quarterback for Iowa State, but he will have to deal the loss playmakers David Montgomery and Hakeem Butler, who departed to the NFL this offseason.
In Montgomery’s absence, Purdy himself is the top returning rusher for the team with his 308 rushing yards last season. To replace Montgomery, the Cyclones may have to look to true freshman Jirehl Brock.
All five offensive lineman return from last season, so their chemistry should afford the Cyclone running backs time to emerge in search of a bell cow for the offense.
To replace Butler’s production, Iowa State returns Tarique Milton, Deshaunte Jones and Charlie Kolar, as well as adding Arkansas graduate transfer La’Michael Pettway. Though it is unlikely any single pass catcher will replicate Butler’s school record setting season, they will have a chance to produce as a group.
While Purdy attempts to gel with his new offensive weapons, Campbell will lean on his defense.
The Big 12 has gained a reputation for defense being optional over the years, but the Cyclone defense is the exception. And the unit returns eight starters from last season.
Iowa State only loses two players from their front seven that paced the Big 12 last season.
Second team all-Big 12 selection Ray Lima returns at the center of the defensive line, hoping to improve on his 34 tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss last season.
Lima’s fellow starters on the line return as well, and he will be flanked by fellow second team all-Big 12 selection JaQuan Bailey, who added 8 sacks last season.
There will be shuffling in the secondary, but every projected starter has at least three starts under their belts due to injuries last season.
The Franchise Top 25 Countdown continues with the #19 team, the Iowa State Cyclones. https://t.co/9TgA20DOtD
— The Franchise Sports (@FranchiseOK) July 30, 2019
Iowa State’s schedule is set up to give the Cyclones a chance to earn a berth to the Big 12 championship game in Dallas.
Iowa, TCU, Oklahoma State and Texas will all have to travel to Ames in front of their raucous home crowd.
A three game stretch will shape the season. At the end of October, Iowa State hosts Oklahoma State. Then after a bye week, Iowa State travels to Norman and hosts the Longhorns in back to back weeks.
If Iowa State can win two of those three games, they will be in a great position to finish in the top two in the conference, and play for a bid to a New Year’s Six Bowl.
Catch up on the rest of the Franchise Top 25: