One of the most interesting college football games taking place Saturday also happens to be one of the most bitter rivalries in the sport. No. 9 Iowa State and No. 10 Iowa meet with the Cy-Hawk Trophy and a place in the national conversation at stake in the first time both teams have been ranked in this rivalry game across its entire history.
Both teams are coming off of Week 1 victories, but now things are going to get personal. Iowa is fresh off a dominating 34-6 win over then-No. 17 Indiana in Week 1, one of the best opening statements of the college football season. With the win, the Hawkeyes are a popular pick to make it through the Big Ten West to Indianapolis for the Big Ten Championship Game.
Iowa State is still in the midst of a 109-year streak without a conference title, but this might be the Cyclones' best team ever. ISU sat atop Big 12 at the end of the 2020 regular season and came just short of beating Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship Game before winning the Fiesta Bowl. Anything less than playoff contention would be a disappointment.
Iowa holds a 45-22 lead in the series all-time and has won the last five matchups, including an 18-17 victory in Ames back in 2019. However, Iowa State entered the 2021 season ranked in the top 10 for the first time in program history.
Iowa vs. Iowa State: Need to know
Historic rivalry game: Iowa and Iowa State have played for the Cy-Hawk Trophy 34 times since the rivalry was reborn in 1977. However, this is the first time that the fierce rivalry game features a ranked matchup. Seriously. Even better, the game will be a battle of top-10 teams. College football runs through the state of Iowa, at least this week.
Iowa State's slow starts: Matt Campbell has improbably turned a historically woeful Iowa State program into a legitimate national contender. For inexplicable reasons, though, his squads always start the season slowly. Despite a historic year in 2020, the Cyclones still lost their opener to Louisiana. Just last week, ISU only beat Northern Iowa by six points. Campbell has yet to beat Iowa while his less-successful predecessor, Paul Rhoads, went 3-4 against the Hawkeyes. If Iowa State wants to be a national contender, it has to shake off the rust.
Iowa's suffocating defense: Iowa's defense absolutely dominated Indiana last Saturday. The Hoosiers averaged just 3.6 yards per play and 2.5 yards per rush attempt. Iowa cornerback Riley Moss has been an absolute ballhawk as of late, too. Against touted Indiana quarterback Michael Penix, Moss nabbed a pair of pick-sixes to earn national accolades. Iowa State has to clean up its offensive production or Iowa will take advantage of every miscue.
Sensational running backs: Is there a better running back matchup this weekend than the one happening in Ames, Iowa? Iowa State running back Breece Hall led the nation with 1,572 yards rushing and 21 touchdowns in a sensational sophomore season. On the other sideline, Iowa's Tyler Goodson exploded with 762 yards rushing and seven rushing touchdowns in an abbreviated Big Ten season to earn all-conference honors.
How to watch Iowa vs. Iowa State live
Date: Saturday, Sept. 11 | Time: 4:30 p.m. ET
Location: Jack Trice Stadium -- Ames, Iowa
TV: ABC | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Iowa vs. Iowa State prediction, picks
Iowa State has struggled in every Cy-Hawk game since Campbell arrived in Ames ... but the results have been close. The last two matchups in Ames have been decided by three points or fewer, including the one-point heartbreaker in 2019 caused by a muffed punt. Eventually, the streak has to end – and I believe it will this year. However, ISU's last three wins over Iowa were all by three points. If Vegas wants to give us a few extra points of cushion, I'll happily take it. Prediction: Iowa (+4.5)
Which college football picks can you make with confidence in Week 2, and which favorites will go down hard? Visit SportsLine to see which teams will win and cover the spread -- all from a proven computer model that has returned over $3,500 in profit over the past five-plus seasons -- and find out.