Northern Iowa Panthers (0-0) vs. Iowa State Cyclones (0-0)
September 4, 2021 4:30 pm EDT
The Line: Iowa State Cyclones -37.5
(Click here for latest betting odds)
The Iowa State Cyclones meet the Northern Iowa Panthers Saturday in week 1 college football action from Jack Trice Stadium. This will be the first game of the year for both teams. Northern Iowa posted a 3-4 record overall in the spring, finishing near the middle of the Missouri Valley Conference standings. As for the Cyclones, they posted a 9-3 overall finish in 2020 and had the best conference record in the Big 12. Check back all season long for free college football picks at Sports Chat Place.
Northern Iowa managed to play seven games in their spring slate, posting a 3-4 record that left them in sixth place in the Missouri Valley Conference. The Panthers started out well enough at 2-1, but then lost three of their last four games in the season.
This year, Northern Iowa retains Mark Farley in his 32nd overall season with the team (21st as head coach). He’ll be joined by defensive coordinator Jeremiah Johnson (eighth year) and new offensive coordinator Shawn Watson.
Over on the Iowa State side, they had some ups and downs in their 2020 campaign. The Cyclones finished with a 9-3 record overall and an 8-1 conference record which left them at the top of the standings. Iowa State lost a tough Big 12 Championship game 27-21 versus Oklahoma, however.
The Cyclones lost two of their first five games but then hit their stride with a five-game win streak prior to the conference championship loss. Iowa State earned an invite to the Fiesta Bowl; they were able to end their season on a high note with a 34-17 win over Oregon in that one.
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The Panthers are 3-7 ATS in their last 10 road games and 1-6 ATS in the last seven in September. The under is 6-2 in Northern Iowa’s last eight on grass and 5-2 in their last seven in September.
Meanwhile, the Cyclones are 4-1 ATS in their last five overall and 5-2 ATS in their last seven home games. Iowa State is 3-7 ATS in their last 10 non-conference games and 2-5 in their last seven versus the MVC.
PICK: I’m probably going to stick with Iowa State in this one, but it’s a big number. The Cyclones offense had their struggles at times last year, but overall they were a well-balanced group with averages of 436 yards and 33 points per game. Ten starters are back with that group this season, and with QB Brock Purdy still in the mix we should see some returning success. Look for TE Charlie Kolar to have a big year as well.
As for Northern Iowa, they’ve got to find a consistent group of offensive linemen; that was one of their major issues in the spring. The Panthers’ strength should be on defense once again, and they’ll get a big lift with DE Jared Brinkman out there. I like Northern Iowa to hang around in this one for a little while before the Cyclones pull away in the second half.