This is unlike any weekend the Iowa State Cyclones will play all year long. On Saturday at 7 p.m., Iowa State will kick off week six against the TCU Horned Frogs. What makes this such a unique moment in Iowa State football history, is how they will be honoring the celebrated life of Jack Trice. Iowa State will wear commemorative helmets and jerseys that outline the impact Trice had on the school and the community.
“You could look at this and see the uniforms and guys getting t-shirts or you can have the reality of what we are honoring,” Matt Campbell said earlier this week during the press conference. “What you are honoring is the act of courage he truly had 100 years ago and coming from East Tech high school in Cleveland, Ohio, and having the courage to come and break the color barrier here at Iowa State athletics. It’s not a gimmick. It’s not a t-shirt. It’s trailblazing.”
For the first time since the Cy-Hawk game in 2013, the Cyclones will wear throwback uniforms. The ones this weekend will be similar to the uniforms they wore ten years ago just with a few changes.
Iowa State comes back to Jack Trice Stadium with a 2-3 record (1-1 in the Big 12) after falling on the road to the 12th-ranked Oklahoma Sooners 50-20. The young offense showed a lot of growth in the 30-point loss. Rocco Becht passed for over 180 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, but his poise and leadership continued to take major strides forward. After throwing a pick-six on the third play of the game, Becht led Iowa State 75 yards down the field in six plays tying the game up with a 51 yard touchdown pass to Jaylin Noel.
Not only has the passing game improved and developed, but the play-calling as a whole has been stronger. Under first-year offensive coordinator Nate Scheelhaase, the Cyclones had their most balanced game last weekend. Iowa State’s struggling run game showed what they are capable of rushing for 150 yards and averaged 5.6 yards a carry. These were both season highs.
“I was encouraged by the way we ran the ball,” Scheelhaase said. “I think the way our offensive line came off the ball and created space for those guys…is something we can build off of.”
The offense took steps forward and the defense took a step back. It has become clear that getting to the quarterback and causing teams to be uncomfortable in the pocket is a real struggle. Last weekend, the Cyclones were only able to get two total quarterback hits on Dillon Gabriel. On the season, Iowa State ranks second to last in the Big 12 with only eight sacks. TCU ranks first with 16.
“Good team. Very athletic and they rely on their guys to make plays,” wide receiver Noel said previewing the Horned Frogs defense. “You have a lot of the same guys as last year on that defense. Athletic, big, and can fly around on the field.”
Last year, the then-fourth-ranked Horned Frogs dominated the Cyclones 62-14. This year it will not be much easier. Despite dropping out of the top-25 after their week one loss at home to Colorado, TCU still has a capable squad that could cause headaches for Campbell and Iowa State fans. Since that week one loss, TCU put together a 3-1 record. West Virginia upset them last week 24-21 and held the Horned Frogs scoreless through the second half.
Getting payback will come down to getting to the quarterback. They face another talented quarterback in sophomore Chandler Morris who has thrown for over 1,400 yards and has three touchdowns. He spreads the ball around too with seven receivers hauling in over 100 yards this season. A win for the Cyclones would bring them back to .500 and put their head-to-head record against TCU to 4-1 in the last five matchups.