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Previewing TCU's 2015 Opponents: Iowa State

Iowa State gave TCU their first Big XII loss back in 2012. Since then we have had their number, but this is a team that has a history of playing spoiler. Will there be another upset in 2015?

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
I can truly say that I will never forget TCU's first Big XII meeting with Iowa State in 2012.  I also remember watching the two teams play a great game at the 2005 Houston Bowl, but that's a story for a different time.  In 2012 TCU was ranked No. 15 in the nation, it was our first Big XII home game, and they spanked us. Not only that, but I had especially great seats at that game and Iowa State ruined that for me.  I remember standing around the statues outside the West entrance to The Carter in a daze, trying to process what I had just witnessed.  We had managed to stay within a touchdown the whole game right up until the end, when an ISU defender took the third of Trevone Boykin's three interceptions to the house to seal the game.

That wasn't Boykin's fault entirely... he was, after all, making his first ever start stepping in for Casey Pachall, who had been dismissed from the team just days earlier following an arrest on suspicion of DUI.  Boykin more than got his revenge in 2013, when he rushed for 3 TDs including the game-winner.  Not only that, but Josh Doctson had four grabs for 48 yards and  Aaron Green got 19 carries for 72 yards including the run of the game on 4th and 1 with 1:57 left to give TCU a chance to win it.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that TCU and Iowa State have a great recent history of exciting, competitive games.  That is, unless you are talking about.....

The Last Time They Met (2014)

Yes, after many hard-fought, competitive games played in the recent history of the series, this one was all TCU from the first quarter on.  ISU stopped the Frogs from scoring on their first possession (which was actually really hard  to do last year), but on TCU's second possession Trevone Boykin threw a backwards pass to David Porter and promptly caught his first-ever TD pass.

From then on, not a whole lot happened outside of 400+ yards passing by Boykin, 100+ yards rushing from Green and 150+ yards receiving from Josh Doctson. Even with all this, TCU somehow could not do enough to hang onto their CFP spot and the game ultimately became associated with the let-down of Sunday, rather than the romping good time that was Saturday.

Iowa State in 2015

Iowa State is one of the few Big 12 teams in 2015 that knows with confidence who will be lining up behind center.  Sam Richardson will return as the starter at QB after passing for 2,669 yards, 18 touchdowns and 9 interceptions with a 56.3% completion percentage.  The Cyclones hope that Richardson can take a step forward in the second year under offensive coordinator Mark Mangino.  The supporting cast could be in place to make that possible.

Headlined by 2013's leading pass-catcher Quenton Bundrage, who is returning after missing the 2014 season with an ACL injury, Iowa State will be fielding a more-than-capable group of wide-recievers in 2015. In addition to Bundrage, the Cyclones have Allen Lazard (6'5", 218) and D'Vario Montgomery (6'6", 236) returning to challenge defenses with their size.  Iowa State lost their two leading rushers from 2014 and will look to underclassmen Tyler Brown and Mike Warren to establish themselves as reliable options out of the backfield.  This will all be taking place behind an offensive line that brings back a lot of experienced upperclassmen.

Iowa State's defense gave up 38.8 points per game in 2014 which ranked 118th overall.  That says to me there is room for improvement.  One of the new faces being looked to provide a boost in Ames is junior college transfer noseguard Desmond Tucker, who raised some eyebrows in spring workouts.  The defensive line that he joins is an experienced group, who should be more effective this year.  Expect the run defense to be suspect again as the team works to break in new faces at linebacker, but they should remain competent defending the pass.  Both starting cornerbacks return in Nigel Tribune and Sam E. Richardson as does the Big XII Freshman Defensive Player of the Year, free-safety Kamari Cotton-Moya.

For a more in-depth look, SB Nation's Bill Connelly did very informative previews of all the teams in the Big XII, including Iowa State, a few weeks back.

Score Prediction: TCU 42, Iowa State 28

Here's a crazy thought: TCU and Iowa State could very well BOTH be UNDEFEATED when they meet up on October 17th.  The Cyclones opponents prior to TCU are Northern Iowa, Iowa, Toledo, Kansas and Texas Tech.  While my money is on Iowa State dropping at least one of these, one could totally see them beating all of those teams too, am I right?  Because it's the most fun scenario, let's assume they do win all of their games prior to Oct. 17th and TCU does too.  How will the battle between these two undefeated teams go?

The fact that the game is in Ames could come into play because, like Lubbock, weird things tend to happen there.  Not fox running loose on the field weird, but more like coming back from a 17 point deficit to beat the #2 team in the nation in double OT weird.  TCU will head into this game after facing Tech, Texas and Kansas State back-to-back and they will be beginning to look forward to the bye that comes the week after the matchup with the Cyclones.  I think that Iowa State will trade blows in the passing game early, and maybe we even get behind at some point but never by a large margin.  Late in the game the Frogs running attack and depth will wear down the Cyclones and TCU pulls away for the victory.