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Iowa State Daily

Iowa State aims to show maturity against Cincinnati

Tyler Coe
Jaylin Noel nearly scores a touchdown against TCU at Jack Trice Stadium on Oct. 7, 2023.

The Cyclones travel to Cincinnati to take on the Bearcats for the first time in program history Saturday in hopes of continuing their success in the Big 12.

Iowa State is coming off a strong home showing against TCU, where the Cyclones pulled out a 27-14 win in front of a packed home crowd. The Cyclones were dominant on both sides of the ball, as the run game found new life and the defense went back to its old ways.

The recent success the run game found was in part thanks to the growth from the offensive line. With new players in new spots, the line has found improvement from the early part of the season.

“You know, we fixed some problems we had,” Iowa State running back Eli Sanders said. “It feels great right now. Everything feels like it’s clicking; offense is clicking well, O-line is pushing line of scrimmage and it’s going real well.”

The offensive line looked solid and started to live up to the violence they were preaching before the season. Not only are veterans finding success on the line, new faces are finding success as well.

True freshman Brendan Black started at right guard, which made him the first true freshman Cyclone to start on the line since 2008. With the talent currently on the line, there is also one veteran who is planning to return to the field Saturday.

After his six-game suspension for gambling, Jake Remsburg is back with the team and ready to play against Cincinnati.

“Obviously, we all think the world of Jake,” Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell said. “He’s been such a great senior and human in our football program over the test of time and has overcome multiple obstacles.”

Campbell was excited about what Remsburg could add to the depth of the offensive line room. However, Campbell also made it clear that Remsburg’s return would not mess with the ecosystem of the line which has been dominant recently.

“You just gotta be smart,” Campbell said. “Where does he fit, what’s it look like? You know, obviously, that line’s starting to play good football.”

Remsburg is someone that can play anywhere on the line. He should add more to the versatility and strength of the run game.

Along with the improved run game, the defense had a day against TCU, as it only let up two touchdowns, with one being late in the game when it was mostly decided. The momentum the defense gained from the performance against TCU should help them against Cincinnati.

“It definitely catapults you forward into the next week,” Iowa State defensive lineman J.R. Singleton said.

Although the defense struggled early on, it locked down late in the game and when it mattered most to keep points off the board. Keeping TCU to 14 points was a solid performance considering the talent on TCU’s offense.

The Horned Frogs boasted an elite run game, which found big-chunk plays constantly against Iowa State. Iowa State’s tackling was shaky at times, which helped TCU create big plays.

“I’m sure coach Heacock would have said this, its gotta be better,” Campbell said. “You know, there were times that I think we tackled great. Now, you also have to tip your hat to who you’re tackling. You’re talking about a team that’s got a lot of elite team speed and really talented players.”

Cincinnati boasts a similar threat in the run game. The Bearcats have a dangerous offense with many weapons on the ground and in the sky to cause problems for the Cyclones.

Cincinnati’s running back Corey Kiner has elite elusiveness and agility which could cause issues for Iowa State. With the tackling issues and the big plays given up in past games, Kiner might be in for a big day.

“It will be a great challenge for us defensively,” Campbell said. “They’re gonna run the football and they’re gonna challenge you on every play.”

Kiner is not the only threat that Cincinnati poses. The Bearcats have talented receivers that pair well with a dual-threat quarterback in Emory Jones.

Jones is the second-leading rusher on Cincinnati and has an eerily similar statline in the air as Iowa State quarterback Rocco Becht. With the two even as a passer, Jones’ efficiency and mobility could help him create big plays for the Bearcats.

“I never look at the negatives of all the quarterbacks. I see a guy that’s out there making a lot of plays, throwing the football down the field,” Heacock said. “You know, he’s a dangerous guy.”

Along with the defensive challenge, the Cyclones are faced with a bigger challenge of figuring out their road struggles. Iowa State has not won a road game this season, as the last win on the road came against Iowa in 2022.

The Cyclones’ youth has shown through over the last few years. Iowa State has not found success on the road in a while, which makes the Cincinnati game that much more important.

“I would say, we haven’t done a great job of that over the course of the last, geez, I’d say the last year and a half to be honest with you,” Campbell said. “When you look at when we’ve been really special here and a really good football team, we’ve been elite on the road.”

Becoming an elite team starts with a win on Saturday. The Cyclones know that Cincinnati will be a tough atmosphere to win in.

If the Cyclones can show that the youth that held them back in the past is gone, they should have a chance to overcome the challenge against Cincinnati.

“Winning football games in college football, especially on the road, and at any level is hard,” Campbell said. “There’s got to be a great sense of maturity.”

Iowa State is set to take on Cincinnati at 11 a.m. Saturday in Cincinnati. The game can be streamed live on FS1.

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