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Matchups to Watch: Iowa State vs. Louisiana-Lafayette

The Cyclones, TCU’s first Big 12 opponent of the 2020 season, will open their schedule against the Ragin’ Cajuns this weekend.

TCU v Iowa State Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images

TCU may have lost its season-opener against SMU, but that doesn’t mean the Horned Frogs won’t be keeping an eye on the other Big 12 teams slated to kick off their respective 2020 schedules this weekend. Those teams include Iowa State, who TCU will host on Saturday, Sept. 26 at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth.

Expectations will be high for the Cyclones, who went 7-6 overall in head coach Matt Campbell’s fourth season running the program. Junior quarterback Brock Purdy will look to build on a strong 2019 campaign where he tossed 27 touchdown passes and only nine interceptions while racking up 3,982 yards through the air.

Saturday’s game will be no tune-up, however, as the Ragin’ Cajuns are coming off an impressive 11-3 season in the Sun Belt Conference. Louisiana-Lafayette showed it was a legitimate mid-major program after playing a close game against Mississippi State on the road to open the 2019 campaign, falling 28-38 despite totaling 430 yards on offense.

Here are three matchups to watch as the Cyclones and Ragin’ Cajuns prepare for Saturday’s opener.

Brock Purdy vs. LA-Lafayette Pass Defense

Not only did the Ragin’ Cajuns rank 20th in college football in points allowed (19.9) during the 2019 season, but they allowed only 193.8 opposing passing yards per game, good for sixth-best among non Power 5 programs. That defense will be tested by an experienced upperclassman quarterback in Purdy, who threw for an average of over 300 yards per game in 2019 while topping the 300-yard mark six times in 13 games.

Elijah Mitchell & Trey Ragas vs. Iowa State Run Defense

Louisiana-Lafayette fielded three running backs who churned for over 800 yards this past season. Seniors Elijah Mitchell and Trey Ragas are two of those players, and after combining for nearly 2,000 rushing yards and 27 touchdowns in 2019, the two ball carriers will attack an Iowa State run defense that limited opponents to 133.8 yards per game on the ground in 2019, second-best among Big 12 teams.

Charlie Kolar vs. Percy Butler

Butler returns as Louisiana-Lafayette’s leading tackler in the secondary, totaling 54 this past saeason. Butler and the Ragin’ Cajun secondary will have a tough matchup in Kolar, who shined with 51 catches for 697 yards and seven touchdowns during the 2019 season. The 6-foot-6 tight end will once again be one of Purdy’s top targets, and the Ragin’ Cajun pass defense must lock him down to have a chance at success this weekend.