The San Jose State Spartans (1-2) wrap up non-conference play in 2016 with an away game against the Iowa State Cyclones (0-3) on Saturday. As Iowa State is a member of the Big 12 Conference, this is the second week in a row that the Spartans face power conference competition, following last Saturday’s 34-17 home loss to Pac-12 opponent Utah.
Site: Jack Trice Stadium (Ames, Iowa; capacity 61,500)
Time: 11:00 a.m. (Central)
TV: Fox Sports Midwest and other regional channels (see “How to watch” section)
Streaming video: www.foxsportsgo.com and the Fox Sports Go app.
Radio: 1590 KLIV (San Jose) and Spartan Radio Network affiliates: 910 KKSF (San Francisco); 1460/101.1 KION (Salinas/Monterey/Santa Cruz); 1280 KWSX (Stockton); 1360 KFIV (Modesto).
Streaming audio: Streaming audio: KLIV streams at www.kliv.com and the TuneIn app. KION streams at www.powertalk1460.com and the iHeartRadio app. For the Iowa State radio broadcast, listen to the Iowa State Cyclones Sports Network on www.tunein.com or the TuneIn app.
Injuries: QB Kenny Potter (knee) and LB Christian Tago (knee) are probable. RT Nate Velichko (knee) is out. RB’s Thomas Tucker and Brandon Monroe (concussions) are also out. The Spartan Daily tweeted on Thursday evening that Tago, a fifth-year senior who has yet to see any game action this season, was upgraded from “out” to “probable”.
How to watch
This game has no national telecast but multiple regional telecasts, none of which serve the Bay Area; Fox Sports Midwest will show this game in Iowa and surrounding states. Other regional channels showing this game include:
- Fox Sports Arizona Plus
- Fox Sports Cincinnati
- Fox Sports Detroit Plus
- Fox Sports Florida
- Fox Sports North
- Fox Sports Southeast
- Fox Sports Southwest
- Fox Sports West
- Mid-Atlantic Sports Network
- MSG Plus
These channels and more will have live and delayed telecasts; a full list via Iowa State athletics is here.
Fox Sports Midwest is available in the Bay Area in HD on AT&T U-Verse (1748), DirecTV (671), and Dish (418). However, because that is an out-of-market channel, receiving it requires the most expensive sports packages for all these providers. A full list channel numbers in the Bay Area to see the game is available here via Spartan Athletics.
The Bay Area’s two regional sports channels, Comcast SportsNet Bay Area and Comcast SportsNet California, will not show this game. At 9 a.m. on Saturday, CSN Bay Area will show an out-of-market FCS football game between James Madison and Maine, and CSN California, which carries the weekly Spartan Sports Report program, will show infomercials instead of the San Jose State game. CSN did not respond to an email regarding this programming decision, but Fox Sports spokesperson Valerie Krebs wrote in an email to Inside the Spartans: "San Jose State at Iowa State is a Big 12 Conference-controlled game, to which FOX Sports holds exclusive television rights. The game is available to authenticated users on the FOX Sports GO app and on FOXSportsGO.com."
Iowa State: An overview
Iowa State is starting from scratch under first-year head coach Matt Campbell, who came to Ames following a successful four-year stint at Toledo in which he went 35-15 with two bowl wins. Campbell replaces Paul Rhoads, who went 32-55 from 2009 to 2015 with one bowl win in 2009. The team has an 0-3 start to the season that began with a 25-20 loss to FCS opponent Northern Iowa, followed by blowout losses to Iowa (42-3) and Big 12 peer TCU (41-20).
Starting quarterback Joel Lanning, a junior, has completed 38 of 69 passes this season for 469 yards, three touchdowns, and three interceptions. Lanning has also rushed for 68 yards and two touchdowns on 35 attempts. Lanning became starter in the middle of last season, in which he completed 107 of 193 passes for 1,247 yards, 10 touchdowns, and four interceptions.
“You see him tuck the ball and run it sometimes. You see him be able to throw it on the run as well, and he has a good knack for their zone read, motion, fly sweep type of offense,” commented San Jose State coach Ron Caragher about Lanning on Wednesday’s Spartan Sports Report.
Backup and sophomore Jacob Park, who played in relief of Lanning in the Iowa and TCU games, has completed 13 of 30 passes for 169 yards.
Caragher also commented about Park: “He’s more of a pocket passer but throws a very accurate, catchable ball.”
In last Saturday’s game against TCU, Lanning and Park alternated between drives, similar to the brief Joe Gray/Kenny Potter co-starters experiment last season for San Jose State.
Iowa State does not return any first- or second-team All-Big 12 honorees but does return four honorable mention All-Big 12 honorees in wide receiver Allen Lazard, running back Mike Warren, cornerback Brian Peavy, and nose guard Demond Tucker. Peavy was the 2015 Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year.
Lazard, a 6’5” junior, currently leads the team in receiving with 248 receiving yards and one touchdown on 14 catches. Warren is the Cyclones’ leading rusher with 153 yards on 42 carries. No other running back has more than 40 net rushing yards. Peavy currently has 17 tackles, one pass defended, and one forced fumble after leading the team in tackles as a freshman. Tucker has eight tackles, including one for loss, as well as one pass defended and one quarterback hurry.
The Iowa State defense has made just five sacks, while the offensive line has given up 11. On the season, Iowa State has forced just one turnover while committing five. Iowa State’s defensive backs have yet to pick off a pass.
Last weekend’s game against TCU gave a hint that Iowa State’s offense will challenge the struggling San Jose State run defense. On its second drive of the game and TCU leading 3-0, Iowa State had seven consecutive rushing plays after a pass and marched all the way to the TCU 34, but the drive ended there on downs.
What’s in it for San Jose State?
In echoes of 2014 and 2015, drama surrounded the starting quarterback position for the Spartans, due to an injury to starter Kenny Potter that put his status this weekend in question. Potter left last week’s game against Utah due to a contusion on his leg, after taking many hits from Utah’s defensive line. While Caragher has praised Josh Love for Love’s performance in relief of Potter, Caragher maintains that Potter tops the depth chart at quarterback.
“There’s not a quarterback controversy. Kenny’s our guy. He’s been proven through thick and thin and through battles and has that experience,” said Caragher on Spartan Sports Report.
However, in his weekly appearance on KNBR 1050’s The Ted Ramey Show also on Wednesday, Caragher acknowledged that Potter sat out of practice all week while recovering from his leg injury.
While both teams need this win, San Jose State needs it more. Iowa State is a relatively favorable opponent compared to the two other FBS non-conference opponents, because Iowa State did not come off a bowl appearance, unlike Tulsa or Utah. This is Caragher’s fourth year in his five-year contract, while Iowa State has a first-year coach.
How San Jose State performs on Saturday will tell fans many things: Are the players buying in to Caragher’s coaching style? Can Caragher do something as basic as winning a non-conference road game? Already, the answer to that question is “no”, based on last season’s 35-21 loss at an Oregon State team that finished with just two wins. San Jose State had a 21-14 lead at halftime but gave up 21 unanswered in the second half. Another question: If San Jose State cannot handle one of the worst teams in all of FBS football, can San Jose State even be remotely competitive in Mountain West play?
With Mountain West play opening next week at New Mexico, beating Iowa State and going 2-2 to start the season puts San Jose State in a better position to have a bowl-eligible 6-6 or better record. Otherwise, entering a road game with a 1-3 record will put the team at risk of a 1-4 start, which would be a gigantic step backwards for a program that should be going forwards given the experienced coaching staff and players. Should the Spartans lose, expect even more backlash against Caragher beyond what certain members of the 2012 team expressed following this author’s article deconstructing Caragher’s remark in August blaming his earlier teams’ struggles on his players being “built for the WAC.”
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