Stuve: Iowa State’s bye week comes at the right time

Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell walks off the field after the Cyclones’ 59-7 win over Kansas on Oct. 2.

Sam Stuve

A well-timed bye week can be huge for a team’s season. 

This week is Iowa State’s (3-2, 1-1 Big 12) bye week and comes at as an ideal a time as ever after a back-and-forth first five games.  

I think Iowa State has a full head of steam heading into the bye week and that could loom large for what I think is the most important stretch of the season that comes after it.

Having the bye week ahead of these next four games is a good thing for Iowa State, because it allows Iowa State to get reenergized, “work on the small things” as the team says and allows for extra preparation for the upcoming games that I can see going either way. 

Coming off of a 59-7 rout of Kansas on Saturday, Iowa State is heading into the bye week this season with some momentum.

“I think having the performance that we had tonight going into the bye week is really beneficial,” Iowa State defensive back Greg Eisworth said after the win against Kansas.

With a 52-point win over the Jayhawks Saturday, Iowa State should feel good, but I think the team is still a little bit behind the eight ball with the early conference loss to Baylor. 

“I mean it gives us a lot of confidence and momentum,” Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy said after Saturday’s win. “The coaches told us in the locker room, ‘the thing we’ve failed to do in this year is start a streak,’ and so to be able to have this game under wraps and being able to move on to the next game in Big 12 play is huge for us.”

The timing of the bye week comes at a good time of the season, having five games under their belt with seven to go. 

This bye week will be an opportunity to make the necessary corrections, improve in certain areas and overall get an extended period of time to recover. 

I think this is a great time to have a bye week because its basically right in the meat of the schedule and comes at a point where Iowa State is still in the race for a spot in the 2021 Big 12 Championship. Having a week off can give Iowa State the chance to retool, reenergize, reevaluate itself and recover among other things. 

“I mean, again, we’re gonna have a lot of time soon to continue to heal up and from the mistakes,” Purdy said. 

One interesting stat is that before the 2020 season, Iowa State was just 1-4 under head coach Matt Campbell in games following a bye week.

But in its three games coming off of a bye week last season, Iowa State went 2-1, which included a 45-0 drubbing of its next opponent, Kansas State.

What makes this bye week so crucial in my opinion is because of what lies ahead.

Iowa State’s next four games come against teams that are either in the top four of the conference (Oklahoma State and Texas) or are on the road against teams that are in a similar spot as Iowa State in the standings (Kansas State and West Virginia). 

While the Nov. 20 game against Oklahoma is likely going to be the toughest game this season and could go a long way in determining who goes to the Big 12 Championship, barring a loss by the Cyclones or multiple loses by the Sooners, the Cyclones’ next four games could make or break their Big 12 Championships chances.

The next four games consist of two home games against teams that are currently ranked in the top 25, as well as two road games against teams who Iowa State dominated a season ago, but can’t afford to sleep on this season. 

Iowa State’s first game coming off of the bye week is the 2021 edition of “Farmegeddon” at Kansas State. With the exception of the last two seasons, this game has gone Kansas State’s way and has usually been a close game. 

In this game, Iowa State is going to be searching for its first win in Manhattan, Kansas since 2004. Following this is the homecoming game against Oklahoma State who is currently No. 12 in the nation. 

The last six games between these two have been decided by one possession or less, but five of them have been won by Oklahoma State. 

A road trip to West Virginia ends the month of October for Iowa State and this game could be a very interesting one. Iowa State clobbered the Mountaineers 42-6 last season at home.

This season, four of West Virginia’s five games have been decided by one possession or less, including losses to Maryland by six and a three-point loss to the then-third ranked Oklahoma by three, a three point loss to Texas Tech last week and six point win on the road against then-15th ranked Virginia Tech. 

Iowa State’s last game in that stretch comes against the Texas Longhorns who are currently ranked No. 21 in the country. Iowa State has won the last two meetings, but by two points each time.

But before that comes the ever important bye week. 

The reason why I think this stretch of games will be the most important of the season is because if Iowa State can get through this stretch unscathed, it will improve Iowa State’s chances of making the Big 12 Championship astronomically, and being refocused, reenergized and all those other things I think will almost certainly help. 

As for what effect a big win has heading into the bye week, Campbell said, “we’ll see.”

“I think the reality of our program has grown and we’ve proven the ability to strengthen through struggle,” he said. “That’s always been the character of who we are. I think the great teams had the ability to not only strengthen through struggle, but also had the ability to strengthen through positive and so and we’ll see if we’ve got the ability to do that.”