Battle in the trenches: Ott vs. Campos


Redshirt freshman lineman Jake Campos and senior tight end EJ Bibbs celebrate freshman running back Martinez Syria’s touchdown during the Homecoming game against Toledo on Oct. 11 at Jack Trice Stadium. The Cyclones defeated the Rockets 37-30.

Ryan Young

Fans in the stands at Jack Trice Stadium will have plenty to keep an eye on this weekend — they always do with a rivalry game.

But when Iowa State and Iowa play at 3:45 p.m. Saturday, no matchup exists that ISU coach Paul Rhoads finds especially captivating.

“I think you’ve got to look at the trenches,” Rhoads said. “Especially in this game, Iowa has always been so strong on the offensive and defensive line, and they are again this year … So I think I’m keeping my eyes close to the line of scrimmage.”

And more specifically, the battle will be most intense between ISU left tackle Jake Campos and Iowa right defensive end Drew Ott.

Ott, a 6-foot-4-inch senior, earned honorable mention all-Big Ten honors last season and is an impact player for the Hawkeyes’ defense.

Ott finished with two sacks and combined with defensive end Nate Meier for five tackles for loss during Iowa’s 31-14 win against Illinois State last Saturday. Ott also forced a fumble in the game.

“He’ll be a really good player this year,” Campos said. “It’s going to be a real fun challenge for me because he’s a lot of the things that I kind of struggle in. Doing that and playing against him will make me a better player.”

Campos, a redshirt sophomore from West Des Moines, got his first real playing experience last season. He was thrown into the lineup for the first time against Kansas State and then started the final 11 games of the season.

Rhoads called Campos a perfectionist, something the left tackle has been working to ease up on this fall. While it may have given him a bit of a technical advantage, Campos doesn’t like to be that hard on himself anymore.

“Last year is when it really happened,” Campos said. “I really tried getting my form down to make up for my lack of size. This year, it’s kind of showing up where I got into a little bit of a slump during camp. I had a couple days where I feel a bit off. I was pretty hard on myself, but I get right out of it and feel a lot better.”

Rhoads said he knows it will take a team effort from the offensive line to win the battle on the front lines, but that the Campos-Ott battle will be the true highlight.

“I think that’s a good matchup,” Rhoads said. “Jake certainly has to be motivated because Ott is one of the best in the country — absolute best in the country — and Jake is going to have his hands full.”

Campos knows what lies ahead but he said he isn’t concerned.

He just wants to enjoy the game.

“He’s going to bring it,” Campos said. “He’s going to bring it real hard coming from the Big Ten.

“It’ll be fun.”