Iowa State vs. Iowa: Keys to Victory

The Cyclones, especially over the last two weeks, have been very successful when they're able to pressure opposing quarterbacks into making bad decisions. Iowa, meanwhile, has given signal-caller Brad Banks all day to pick and choose his receivers. What gives? ISU hopes that the Hawks do. Here are three keys to a Cyclone victory over Iowa on Saturday.

Pass rushers get pressure on Banks A lot has been made of Iowa's stellar offensive line, and rightfully so, it is a veteran unit made up of four seniors and a junior. Thus, Iowa State's defensive front will have a huge challenge on their hands figuring out a way to get pressure on Brad Banks. But count on defensive coordinator John Skladany to throw the entire deck at the Hawkeye quarterback and his blockers.

Through two games, Banks has had all day to pick and choose among his receivers. Just as any starting quarterback should, he has flourished in that situation, passing for 381 yards and three touchdowns on 23-of-35 completions. Even more important is that Banks has yet to throw an interception.

That could change on Saturday. ISU was able to pressure Banks and starter Kyle McCann consistently last season and that paid off in what was overall a well-played defensive game. Banks did manage to complete 2-of-3 passes in a brief stint, but was on the run from the time he hit the field and also made some bad decisions. That will be the Cyclones' goal on Saturday.

Take Iowa out of its game plan

If the Cyclone offense can get in gear early and put some points on the board, it could alter a Hawkeye attack dead set on running the ball with Fred Russell and Aaron Greving. ISU was ultimately able to come out on top last season after allowing Ladell Betts to rush for 150 yards and never really forced Iowa into a passing mode.

The Hawkeye offensive front will come out early and punch the Cyclones in the mouth. How ISU responds and shuts down the running game could impact the game's outcome.

After three games in which they've had periods of ineffectiveness on offense, particularly in the first half, Steve Brickey's offense will need a fast start to gain some momentum and force Iowa's hand. Two seasons ago in Iowa City, that offense got the fast start it needed in the form of a big reverse run from J.J. Moses to open the game. As a result, Hawkeye fans were taken out of the game early, which is what ISU will try to do on Saturday.

Ability to convert in short-yardage situations

Brickey's offense has yet to show that it can line up and gain one or two yards consistently in third-down or goal-line situations, which is something it must be able to do against Iowa. The Cyclone offensive front must bow up and be more physical than their opponent in these situations. Cyclone Nation insider Ben Bruns addressed the very problem of short-yardage rushing in his article for this week.

Third-down conversions keep a drive going and could also mean the difference between attempting a 45-yard field goal (which has been a colossal problem for this team) and capping a drive off with seven points.

On goal-line situations, instead of lining up and trying to overpower defensive fronts with power rushing plays, ISU has gotten too cute and tried rolling Seneca Wallace out on an option keeper or had him look for short passes into the end zone. It will be interesting to see how ISU fares against an Iowa defensive front with one returning starter in Colin Cole.

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