After getting its feet wet, in Big 12 play with the Kansas State Wildcats, Oklahoma takes to the road for the first time in 2020 to face an Iowa State team that deserves to be in the conversation of Big 12 title contenders.
After finishing tied for third in the conference in 2019, expectations are high in Ames for 2020. The Cyclones have the best returning quarterback in the Big 12 and an innovative head coach who gets the most out of his players on both sides of the ball.
Iowa State is one of five teams from the conference to have never played in the Big 12 championship game. That could easily change in 2020 with a team that could be one of the most talented to play in Ames. The continued rise of the Cyclones hinges on the answers to these three questions.
Can the Cyclones reload the offense line?
Brock Purdy is one of the most talented quarterbacks in the nation but the Cyclone offense will be down six starters from 2019. There’s no time for Matt Campbell to rebuild the offense so he must reload.
Four of those six 2019 departures were along the offensive line. Left guard Trevor Downing is the only returning full-time starter but junior Colin Newell has experience at the center position and should transition nicely. Grant Treiber and Joey Ramos will be thrust into the fire this fall, at the tackle positions, and will need to produce immediately. Look for junior Robert Hudson to take over at the right guard position.
Can they fill the void in the middle of the defensive line?
Iowa State has to replace Ray Lima and Jamahl Johnson on the interior of the offensive line. Isaiah Lee and Joshua Bailey are going to play the role of next man up but JUCO transfer Latrell Bankston could be the next big talent in the middle of the line.
Are the Cyclones getting old version of JaQuan Bailey back?
Back for a fifth season after taking a medical redshirt due to an injury suffered early in the 2019 season, Iowa State would benefit significantly if Bailey is back with complete health. He currently ranks third among all active college football players, and is tied for a school record, with 18.5 career sacks. Should he return to his old form then you’ll most likely see his name on postseason awards lists.
The Cyclones have to travel to Stillwater and Austin for big conference games so hosting the Sooners at Jack Trice Stadium is a major opportunity. There’s no doubt this game has been circled on the schedule as special. Not only does ISU get the defending Big 12 champs on their home turf but it’ll also be the first conference home game of the season for the Cyclones.
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