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Sports Commentary: “Tony’s Take” On Saturday’s Cy-Hawk Trophy Battle At Jack Trice Stadium

In Ames, Iowa this afternoon, the “Cy-Hawk” series continues as 19th-ranked Iowa pays a visit on unranked Iowa State in front of a national television audience.

ESPN’s “College Game Day” has even shown up to start the official countdown to kickoff festivities in Cyclones Country for the first time in the school’s history.

ISU head coach Matt Campbell has done just about everything that “Cyclone Nation” could have hoped for during his three-plus seasons at the reins of the program.

That’s everything except beat Iowa! In fact, after posting a ten point victory last season, Iowa is riding high on a 4-game winning streak against the Cyclones heading into today’s “Big

Ten-Big 12” collision. Campbell is (0-3) against the men from Iowa City. That’s a sore point to bring up with Iowa State alums and boosters who follow this heated interstate rivalry match-

up with a true passion. The (1-0) Cyclones are coming of a bye week, so the team should be well rested and focused as they face the (2-0) Hawkeyes.

During the first week of the season, ISU barely avoided the bite of the dreaded upset bug on their home field. Northern Iowa gave the Cyclones a scare at Jack Trice Stadium on August 31.

It took the Cyclones 3 OT’s to finally post a hard fought 29-26 victory over the visiting Panthers. This week, all eyes have been on ISU quarterback Brock Purdy.

The sophomore will make his first career start against Iowa this afternoon. If the Iowa offensive line can protect him in the pocket, Purdy could very well represent a major problem for the

Iowa defensive unit. With his athleticism, leadership in the huddle, and composure at crunch time, Purdy could be the key to Iowa State’s success against Iowa.

Mow in all honesty, given his non-existent track record against the Hawkeyes, whether or not Purdy can actually be the “X-Factor” for ISU today, remains a real life mystery.

A mystery just like Campbell’s plan regarding rotating his talented core of running backs for the second straight game this weekend.

It’s virtually anyone’s guess right now just where Quincy High grad Jirehl Brock (5-11, 205 lb.), may or may not, fit i Iowa State’s game plan on offense this week.

Against UNI, the freshman saw no action on offense or special teams. Despite that fact, Campbell continues to lead on fans, and members of the media, stating that he has really not named

a starting running back. Campbell contends that all 5 players bidding for the top spot, are capable of carrying the load for the Cyclones successfully.

During his weekly news conference on Tuesday, Campbell was asked specifically about the running back situation.

He skillfully dodged the question totally by stating, “I know that’s been a hot ticket item, everybody’s been asking that question for the last month.”

Campbell went on to add, “I think it’ll take a while for us to figure out exactly who we are.” Huh? You don’t know who you are, or what your running back’s are capable of right now?

That’s a little hard to believe after weeks of pre-season drills and practice sessions this past spring and summer.

Following Campbell’s mindset, Brock may still on par with (Soph)Johnnie Lang (5-9, 193), (Sr.) Sheldon Croney, Jr. (5-11, 206), fellow 4-Star freshman recruit Breece Hall (6-1, 205), and

(Jr.) Kene Nwangwu (6-1, 205-lb). All those players saw playing time, and even carried the ball during Iowa State’s home opener against UNI. Brock didn’t see action at all. Not one single

snap, against Northern Iowa of all teams. Brock has not been heard from in weeks to discuss his situation, due to Campbell’s ban on first year players talking to the media.

Right now, it’s anyone’s guess what may be going through the mind of the 2018 Class 6A All-State performer. Nobody knows, or at least will speak publicly, about what coaches are telling

Brock, regarding just how he fits in ISU’s plans in 2019. One thing is certain. With the rotating running back plan still in place, it will be very difficult for any of the players who are

called upon, to get into any type of rhythm established going up against the Iowa defensive unit. That’s unfortunate, given that Iowa State’s offensive line is one of the true strengths on

the team this season. We’ll all wait, watch, and hope Campbell’s running back “Merry-Go-Round” includes the reining Gatorade Player Of The Year for the state of Illinois on this second

Saturday of September. Kickoff doe the Iowa-Iowa State game is slated for 3:00 p.m. in Ames.

Let the battle for the coveted “Cy-Hawk Trophy” begin, with “Number 21” leading the charge for the Cyclones!

Tony Cornish Jr.

Tony is the Sports Director for WGEM News.

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