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BYU Enemy Scouting Report: Iowa State Cyclones

BYU desperately needs a win against Iowa State to clinch bowl eligibility. How can the Cougars prevail?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 14 Iowa State at Cincinnati Photo by James Black/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Game location: LaVell Edwards Stadium, Provo, UT

Game time/channel: 10:15pm ET/ESPN

Spread: -8 (Iowa State)

Most Recent Matchup: 1974 (Iowa State 34, BYU 7)

BYU and Iowa State meet for the fifth time, but for the first time in nearly 50 years. BYU only totaled 92 yards on the day and had three turnovers.

Head coach: Matt Campbell

2023 Season Thus Far

Iowa State’s season got off to about as rough of a start as you can get. After beating FCS Northern Iowa 30-9, they lost their next two games against Iowa and Ohio. Yes, that is Ohio of the MAC.

To coach Matt Campbell’s credit, he seems to have steadied the ship. After that stumble, the Cyclones have now won four of their last six, with both losses coming to ranked opponents. They took No. 16 Kansas to the wire last week at home, eventually losing 28-21.

Now they sit at 5-4 but they are 4-2 in league with still a mathematical chance at making the Big 12 title game.

When BYU Has the Ball

This is it for BYU. If they can’t get the offense going at home, at night, against Iowa State, there is little hope they will do it against the Oklahoma Sooners or on the road in Stillwater. It will be the Jake Retzlaff show once again, as he gets his second straight start over the injured Kedon Slovis.

Even in the 37-7 thumping BYU received from West Virginia, Retzlaff showed promise of being more of a dynamic playmaker at QB. He is quicker, more athletic, and looks better than Slovis when needing to improvise outside the pocket.

That’s all well and good but it means very little if the offensive line continues their troubling trend. BYU still ranks worse than 125th in most rushing categories.

Iowa State is currently the best defense in the Big 12 in yards per game allowed. They are fourth in points per game allowed.

Iowa State’s secondary is excellent, led by safety Jeremiah Cooper. This will be a stiff test for the struggling Cougars offense.

BYU ranks 110th in points per drive. There is little to no explosiveness or rhythm. BYU’s receivers, running backs, tight ends, and linemen all need to step it up or BYU will be sitting at home during bowl season.

When Iowa State Has the Ball

Rocco Becht is an above average QB for the Cyclones. While he won’t make anyone in Ames forget about Brock Purdy for now, he has been solid. Jayden Higgins is eighth in the Big 12 in receiving yards and fifth in yards per reception.

The good news is Iowa State’s offense has been almost as ineffective at times as BYU’s. They have scored 21 points or less in four of their nine games.

They rank 12th in the conference in points per game and 13th in yards per game. This is a great chance for BYU’s defense to rebound and continue to show improvement off of last year under Jay Hill.

How BYU Can Win

Iowa State is 0-4 when being held to 21 points or less and 5-0 when it scores more than 21 points. The recipe seems pretty clear. However, that requires BYU to score more than 21 points, which it only has done once since September.

It all rests on the desire and execution of BYU’s offense. The defense can only do so much before the dam breaks. The Cougars cannot afford to go three-and-out on possession after possession. Hopefully, with another week at practice with Retzlaff as the signal caller, the offense operates more efficiently.

This will likely be a low scoring affair. Whichever offense is more generous in allowing turnovers should decide it.

Plus, the hope is BYU can summon the magic of a home night game once again. Night games at LaVell Edwards Stadium are a spectacle to behold and BYU has been virtually unbeatable in the last few seasons in that spot.

Will it be enough?

Prediction: Iowa State 23, BYU 17