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Coming off a season in which it played one of the toughest schedules in college football through the first half of the season, Iowa State’s 2019 schedule will be a bit more balanced.
Even as Iowa State goes on the road for five Big 12 games next season, it will maintain a seven-game home schedule thanks to all three non-conference games coming at Jack Trice Stadium. The Cyclones will open the season with four of their first five games in Ames and just one road game before the middle of October. While there are many unknowns in the Big 12 leading into 2019, Iowa State’s toughest conference games likely come in consecutive November weekends.
Having already taken a way-too-early look at Iowa State’s potential 2019 depth chart, it’s time to look more closely at the program’s 2019 schedule.
vs. Northern Iowa, Aug. 31
2018 record: 7-6
2019 outlook: Coming off another appearance in the FCS Playoffs, Northern Iowa will look a bit different when it opens the season at Jack Trice Stadium. The Panthers lose starting quarterback Eli Dunne, 1,000-yard rusher Marcus Weymiller, starting linebacker and leading tackler Duncan Ferch and sacks leader Rickey Neal Jr. The Panthers do return several key players, but will be breaking in some youngsters when they arrive in Ames. This will be a must-win. When Iowa State has lost FCS games in the past, it has proven to be an indictor of the season, and coming off back-to-back eight-win seasons, expectations will be plentiful.
vs. Iowa, Sept. 14
2018 record: 9-4
2019 outlook: Outside of 2016, Iowa State has had opportunities against Iowa under head coach Matt Campbell, but enters 2019 winless in three games against the rival. The 2019 matchup will be a unique one as Iowa State opens the season against Northern Iowa before quickly going into a bye week. The Cyclones will have two weeks to prepare for the Hawkeyes, which adds a wrinkle. Iowa returns quarterback Nate Stanley as a senior along with its entire backfield but could be working in some other new parts offensively at this early point. Tight end Noah Fant is off to the NFL and the position will look much different if T.J. Hockenson follows him. This game is difficult to project on any given year and both teams will have some big holes to fill during this early-season matchup.
vs. Louisiana Monroe, Sept. 21
2018 record: 6-6
2019 outlook: Louisiana-Monroe was one of the teams that won six games but didn’t make a bowl game in 2018. The Warhawks lost 48-10 to Texas A&M. ULM graduates its lead running back but does return senior quarterback Caleb Evans who was actually the teams leading rusher as well. On the defensive side, ULM will have to replace both its leading linebacker and safety come 2019. This game caps a non-conference slate that will see all three games played at Jack Trice Stadium, something that could be meaningful as Iowa State attempts to sweep its non-conference schedule for the first time since 2012. Such a feat can certainly set a tone for the season.
at Baylor, Sept. 28
2018 record: 7-6
2019 outlook: Baylor is one of the programs trending upward in the Big 12 entering 2019 and getting bowl eligible in the final regular season game could be impactful given the additional month of practice and game reps. The Bears will return quarterback Charlie Brewer as a junior, all three leading running backs who rushed for 573, 434 and 413 yards and second-leading receiver Denzel Mims and should be a formidable early-season offense. Iowa State has won the last two matchups with Baylor and it would be big for Campbell and Co. to begin conference play with a road win, but this could be a sneaky tough game. Given last season’s theatrics, there might be an added element too.
vs. TCU, Oct. 5
2018 record: 7-6
2019 outlook: The TCU game is one Iowa State would want back from 2018. Thee Horned Frogs won seven games including a wild Cheez-It Bowl, but won just four Big 12 games (Iowa State, K-State, Baylor and Oklahoma State). Will TCU be better in 2019? The big question is who will be at quarterback. Shawn Robinson, who Iowa State faced, is off to Missouri and the rest of the room is heavy on injuries entering 2019. Maybe Iowan Max Duggan makes an impression when he arrives in Fort Worth? TCU should be pretty good at running back and receiver and Gary Patterson always has a good defense. But there will at least be questions when the Horned Frogs visit Ames.
at West Virginia, Oct. 12
2018 record: 8-4
2019 outlook: West Virginia will look a lot different in 2019, beginning with a new to-be-determined head coach after the exit of Dana Holgorsen to Houston. But the bigger question is what the offense will look like. Heisman Trophy fourth-place finishing quarterback Will Grier is gone along with leading receiver and big-time playmaker David Sills and top lineman Yodny Cajuste. The defense could still be strong, but top defender David Long is leaving early for the NFL. The Cyclones haven’t had a ton of success in Morgantown, but given all the changes this road trip will be an intriguing first-half game.
at Texas Tech, Oct. 19
2018 record: 5-7
2019 outlook: Things were looking up for the Red Raiders early in 2018 before Kliff Kingsbury and Co. dropped their final five games to miss a bowl game. Kinsgbury has now been replaced by former Utah State coach Matt Wells, who inherits sophomore quarterback Alan Bowman. Bowman was pretty solid when healthy during his rookie season and gets the majority of his playmakers back. What Texas Tech’s defense looks like under Wells remains to be seen. Iowa State has won all three meetings against Texas Tech under Campbell, but this will be the second of a two consecutive road games for the Cyclones and the Red Raiders could be competitive in Year 1 under Wells.
vs. Oklahoma State, Oct. 26
2018 record: 7-6
2019 outlook: Since Campbell arrived in Ames, Iowa State has had competitive battles with Oklahoma State. After dropping two closes games in 2016 and 2017, the Cyclones got over the hump with a road win in Stillwater in 2018 and now welcome the Cowboys to Ames in late 2019. Oklahoma State will have a new quarterback and running back in 2019. Those could both be intriguing storylines to watch during the spring and into the fall, though Cuba Hubbard ran well in the Cowboys’ Liberty Bowl win and Spencer Sanders and Dru Brown are expected to battle to be the No. 1 quarterback beginning in the spring. Offense will likely again lead the way for Oklahoma State in 2019.
at Oklahoma, Nov. 9
2018 record: 12-2
2019 outlook: Oklahoma will enter 2019 as the favorite in the Big 12 and the Cyclones will get two weeks to prepare (as will the Sooners). There will be changes in Norman with Kyler Murray gone, but it’s more of a replenishing than anything else. Iowa State has played Oklahoma more competitive under Campbell and obviously has the big upset from the last time it traveled there. This could prove to have major Big 12 implications if Iowa State plays up to likely expectations in the first half.
vs. Texas, Nov. 16
2018 record: 10-4
2019 outlook: Texas won 10 games in 2018 for the first time since 2009 and will likely be the other Big 12 favorite alongside Oklahoma. Coming off a Sugar Bowl win, the Longhorns will return quarterback Sam Ehlinger as a junior and could return both big playmakers in Collin Johnson and Lil’Jordan Humphrey. There are a few things that play into Iowa State’s favor. For one, the game will be played at Jack Trice Stadium. And two, it will be the first time Texas has ever traveled to play in Ames in the month of November. The last time Texas played Iowa State up north past mid-October, Iowa State won 24-0. If the Cyclones can win either of the games in this difficult two-week stretch itcould very well keep or put the program in the heart of the Big 12 race once again.
vs. Kansas, Nov. 23
2018 record: 3-9
2019 outlook: Kansas has a bit of renewed energy with the hiring of former LSU coach Les Miles, but 2019 is still likely to be a building year. The Jayhawks are heavy on JUCOs and will be an older team, but they still don’t have 85 scholarship players and it’s going to take Miles some time to try to turn things around. Iowa State has won eight of the last nine against Kansas and this will likely be a must-win late in the season, especially with it being played in Ames.
at Kansas State, Nov. 30
2018 record: 5-7
2019 outlook: New Kansas State coach Chris Klieman won’t have as much of an undertaking to get the Wildcats back on track. Kansas State managed five wins last season and wasn’t all that far from bowl eligibility (as Iowa State well knows). The Wildcats return starting quarterback Syklar Thompson, but lose leading rusher Alex Barnes to the NFL. Stylistically, Kansas State might be pretty similar to what Iowa State has seen in recent years under Bill Snyder. After snapping its 10-game losing streak to Kansas State this past season, Iowa State will be hoping for a winning streak of its own in the 2019 finale.