Good Cop/Bad Cop: Southeast Missouri State


Jacob Rice

Iowa State football players huddle together before their game against the University of Texas on Nov. 6.

Good cop: Payne Blazevich

Rather than opening its season with a consistently competitive Northern Iowa team, Iowa State kicks off its year with Southeast Missouri State (SEMO). Although the Redhawks are projected to finish second in the Ohio Valley Conference, Iowa State should have enough firepower to put the game away early.

The sheer talent gap will make all the difference for the Cyclones on Saturday, who will see two of their top 10 recruits in program history make their first starts.

First, quarterback Hunter Dekkers will have a chance to spread the field and display his game-changing arm strength. He’ll be throwing to a robust wide receiver room, with targets like senior Xavier Hutchinson, sophomore Jaylin Noel and incoming grad-transfer Dimitri Stanley.

Second, Jirehl Brock finally gets the chance to take control at running back after patiently waiting his turn behind current NFL running back Breece Hall. Brock displayed his physicality previously. As the primary ball carrier, he’ll be able to show his shiftiness and speed a bit more than in previous years.

The defense will look to be just as dominating as the past couple of years, with veteran talent all across the board. There’s also a handful of young guys with a high ceiling like sophomore Beau Freyler and redshirt freshman Malik Verdon at safety, along with sophomore Myles Purchase at corner.

Iowa State is favored by 37.5 points, which is a considerably high number given the team’s tendency to start slow in the Matt Campbell era. Regardless, the Cyclones will look to dominate their home-opener, building momentum as they head into Iowa City the following week.

Prediction: Iowa State 38, SEMO 6

Bad cop: Anthony Hanson

In Saturday’s season opener, expect Campbell and Iowa State’s offense to be sluggish.

Dekkers will take the field for his first collegiate start on Saturday, and without 1,000+ yard rusher Breece Hall and two NFL-level tight ends Charlie Kolar and Chase Allen, the Iowa State offense will look different.

Kolar was a top-five receiver in the Big 12 last year and one of Purdy’s favorite targets. Also, both tight ends were excellent blockers for Hall in the run game. All three offensive assets are now pursuing NFL careers, and their contributions will be missed, at least in week one.

Hutchinson, Noel and Stanley’s talent on the outside means more deep balls and down the field passing could be in the cards. But, it remains to be seen if Dekkers has the arm talent and composure to find these weapons consistently. Again, it’s the junior quarterback’s first collegiate start.

I expect this matchup to be similar to the 2021 season opener against in-state rival Northern Iowa. The Iowa State defense, led by an army of veterans, will get off the field quickly but the offense will falter.

All that said, the Cyclones will be in control of the entire matchup and end the weekend 1-0.

Prediction: Iowa State 16, SEMO 10