Iowa State vs. UConn: Keys to Victory

UConn's offense is spearheaded by true freshman tailback Terry Caulley who has done this season what only 54 other players in NCAA history have...rush for 1,000 yards. It's no coincidence that the Huskies struggle when the standout rusher has been held down or out of action. That's what the Cyclone defense must do Saturday afternoon and is one of three keys to an ISU victory.

Collaring Caulley

Despite not playing two of the Huskies' games this season, true freshman running back Terry Caulley has still managed to rush for 1,056 yards and 14 touchdowns on 188 carries. His 117.3-yards per game average places him 18th nationally. Last week against Navy, Caulley became just the 55th freshman in NCAA history to clear the 1,000-yard mark and did so in just nine games.

The bottom line here for Iowa State: stop Caulley and the UConn offense won't be the same. The standout tailback has rushed for 531 yards in his last four games and in that span nearly led the Huskies to a victory over SEC opponent Vanderbilt. In the two games Caulley sat out this season, his team is 0-2. When opponents have held Caulley under 100 yards, the Huskies are 0-3.

Taking care of the ball

Turnover margin is something that could play into this game being closer than forecasted. Although it was against inferior competition, UConn's defense has forced 12 turnovers in the past three games and turned those into 63 points.

That has played a huge part in it outscoring Florida Atlantic, Kent State and Navy by a 162-35 margin. Thanks to recording at least one defensive turnover in every game this season, the Huskies rank 23rd nationally with a +0.83 ratio.

On the other side, Iowa State is coming off a brutal stretch of four Big 12 road games in five weeks. Unlike early in the season when they played a big part in the Cyclones opening with six wins in seven games, turnovers haven't been on the side of Dan McCarney's team recently.

After being ranked first in the Big 12 in turnover margin earlier in the season, ISU has dropped to seventh in the conference with a margin of +3. They had been as high as +11 before a two-game stretch against Kansas State and Colorado.

Quarterback Seneca Wallace has accounted for eight of the Cyclones' 10 turnovers in those two games and three of those have been converted into instant scores by the defense. One was intercepted in the end zone and cost his team a touchdown.

Planting a seed of doubt

It's clear that ISU will feature the better personnel in this game, has been battle-tested by the rigors of the Big 12 and is returning home to face a Division I-A Independent foe after playing four ranked teams on the road in five weeks. So the start of this game could answer a lot of questions and mean the difference between a blowout and close, hard-fought game.

Are the Cyclones still reeling from those four double-digit losses on the road, or are they licking their chops ready to jump on an under-manned team traveling to Jack Trice Stadium?

That question will be answered in the first quarter. If ISU can jump on the Huskies early and go up by a few touchdowns, that would have to plant some seed of doubt in the minds of its opponent. However, if a hangover looms, look for UConn to hang around with a new-found sense of confidence.

AllCyclones Top Stories