Iowa State pass offense vs. Ohio pass defense: Everyone was pretty impressed with the debut of freshman quarterback Austin Flynn last Saturday. Flynn 9-for-18 for 154 yards, with one TD and one interception. UNI's only touchdown came after Flynn was picked off. Against Ohio, the rookie Cyclone QB must avoid giving the Bobcats any short fields. Protect the football and move the chains. Of course, it would be nice for ISU to "turn the page" offensively a little on Saturday, as well. Ohio had three interceptions and two sacks against SE Missouri State. The Bobcats are returning eight starters on defense, but it's a defense that gave up 72 points to Bowling Green last season. Advantage: IOWA STATE.
Ohio run offense vs. Iowa State run defense: The Bobcats run an option offense, which could give some of the young Cyclones a little trouble. The key against the option is to stick with your assignments and that can be difficult for an inexperienced player, who might be really jacked up. A few of the Cyclones to watch are freshman DE Jason Berryman, sophomore DE Cephus Johnson and sophomore LB Nik Moser. Ohio ran the ball 52 times in its opener, with five different players getting at least seven carries. Emotions, adrenaline and inexperience might lead to some Cyclone mistakes. Advantage: PUSH.
Ohio pass offense vs. Iowa State pass defense: The Cyclones faced a better passing offense a week ago, which should help them a little against Ohio. However, if the ISU safeties—JaMaine Billups and Marc Timmons—get caught bunching up against the option, the Bobcats could make them pay with a big play in the passing game. However, the odds aren't very good this will happen…and if it does, I'll bet it doesn't happen twice. Advantage: IOWA STATE.
Special Teams: Tony Yelk had a good opener for the Cyclones, averaging 48.9 yards per punt. Return men Ellis Hobbs III, Lance Young and Todd Miller are solid options. For some reason, though, I'm still concerned about ISU's kicking game. I'm not confident in this area yet. I hope I'm proven wrong as the season moves along. Ohio's punting and kicking games are OK. The Bobcats have some good return specialists in Ray Huston, Dion Byrum and Stafford Owens. Iowa State must keep Ohio from breaking a big one. Advantage: PUSH.
Coaching: ISU coach Dan McCarney has undoubtedly preached about two things this week. Number one, the Cyclones must be able to pound the football against the Bobcats. If Iowa State is going to be able to run the ball against Big 12 opponents, it must prove that it can run the ball against a team like Ohio. Number two, the Cyclones must remember their assignments and play solid defensively against the option. McCarney has led ISU to three consecutive bowl games. Ohio coach Brian Knorr has a career record of 6-18 with the Bobcats. Not too good. Advantage: IOWA STATE.
Intangibles: This game will be important to Ohio and the Bobcats have nothing to lose, so they could be dangerous. On the other hand, Iowa State's players have been hearing and reading comments like, "Geez, if we can BARELY beat Northern Iowa, how bad is Oklahoma gonna drill us?" all week long. I've got a feeling that ISU's veteran players sent some loud and clear messages this week and the Cyclones will want to prove they are a good football team on Saturday. As a result, this game will mean even MORE to Iowa State. The Cyclones will want to make a statement on Saturday. Advantage: IOWA STATE.
PREDICTION: Iowa State won't reveal very much of its playbook again this week. However, the Cyclones will show the ability to run the ball as they will win the battles at the line of scrimmage. I look for Wagner and Hicks to both gain over 50 yards on the ground, with one of them to top 100 yards. Flynn will look very good at times and will make a freshman mistake or two. The rookie QB will complete 12-of-21 passes for 117 yards, including TDs to Lane Danielsen and Jamaul Montgomery. Ohio's option attack will get the Bobcats on the scoreboard in the first quarter, but they won't get much after that. ISU will return a kick or a punt for a score. FINAL: IOWA STATE 31, Ohio 16.
(Marty Gallagher founded the popular web site IowaSportsOpinions.com. His columns for CN online are published each Tuesday and Friday. You can e-mail him at Marty@IowaSportsOpinions.com.)