Big Game Hunting: Iowa State gets a belated shot at Iowa; Ohio State welcomes Oregon

The Cy-Hawk game will be close, low-scoring and, considering how wide-open college offenses have become, an old-schooler’s delight.

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Iowa v Iowa State

Last time in Ames, the Hawkeyes made it five in a row in the Cy-Hawk series.

Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images

Iowa State split two classic games against Big 12 bully Oklahoma, manhandled Pac-12 champion Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl and ended the 2020 season ranked in the top 10.

One only can assume the Cyclones would’ve had a fine chance to halt a bitter five-game losing streak against Iowa had the teams played their annual rivalry game for the 44th year in a row. Instead, the Big Ten’s conference-only schedule in a pandemic season left Little Brother in Ames wondering what might’ve been.

Well, the answer is upon us. ESPN’s ‘‘College GameDay’’ crew will be outside Jack Trice Stadium for No. 10 Iowa (+4½) at No. 9 Iowa State (3:30 p.m., Ch. 7). Inside, big, hungry, emotional dudes will bump bellies and trade helmet paint with the Cy-Hawk Trophy on the line.

‘‘Everyone will be talking about the state of Iowa,’’ Hawkeyes coach Kirk Ferentz said, ‘‘so that’s a good thing.’’

It’ll be close, low-scoring and, considering how wide-open college offenses have become, an old-schooler’s delight. Whether or not Iowa running back Tyler Goodson was right to call this Iowa State’s ‘‘Super Bowl’’ — disrespectful? — the Hawkeyes will have their hands full.

Both defenses are rugged. Remember the names of Cyclones tight ends Charlie Kolar and Chase Allen — 6-6, 260 and 6-7, 250, respectively, and made for the NFL. Add a mobile four-year starter in quarterback Brock Purdy and a star running back in Breece Hall, and the Cyclones have the edge offensively. Streak over, 23-17.

At least the Big Ten always has Ohio State to hang its hat on. No. 12 Oregon (+14½) at No. 3 Ohio State (11 a.m., Fox-32) is one of the sexiest nonconference games of the season.

Last time the teams played, seven seasons ago, the Buckeyes dismantled the Ducks in the first College Football Playoff title game. The Ducks haven’t been the same since, but they’re back on the uptick and have a monster in defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux, who can take over any game at any time. Except, perhaps, for this game at this time. Think of Thibodeaux as a West Coast version of Chase Young — one of the greatest Buckeyes ever to do it — but he has a sprained ankle and likely will be limited if he plays.

Still, Oregon’s recruiting has been lights-out the last few years. On both sides of the ball, the Ducks can run like no team Ohio State will see in the Big Ten.

‘‘We have to understand that it’s not just going to happen in the first five minutes of the game,’’ Buckeyes coach Ryan Day said. ‘‘We’re in for a battle here for 60 minutes.’’

Maybe not 60. Go Bucks, 38-24.

Nebraska v Illinois

Illinois needs to really bring it in Charlottesville.

Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images


Illinois (+10) at Virginia (10 a.m., ACC, 890-AM): Is this the right game or the wrong game at this time for the Illini? It’s certainly an opportunity for Bret Bielema’s team to show what it’s made of after a victory against Nebraska followed by a loss to UTSA, but road games out of conference have been brutal experiences for the Illini for a long time. A battle against a middling ACC team? That’s not so scary. Cavs in a tight one.

Indiana State (+26½) at Northwestern (11 a.m., BTN, 720-AM): Larry Bird isn’t running out of that tunnel for the Sycamores. (Look, just pretend he was great at football, too.) It’s a total mismatch, but that’s just what Pat Fitzgerald’s defense needs after the shredding Michigan State did in the opener in Evanston. Wildcats, 34-10.

Wyoming (+7) at Northern Illinois (12:30 p.m., ESPN+, 560-AM): The Huskies are flying high after a shocking victory at Georgia Tech, but the Cowboys have some ballers on offense. Upset alert.

Toledo (+17) at No. 8 Notre Dame (1:30 p.m., Peacock, 780-AM): How gassed are the Irish after their 41-38 overtime victory at Florida State? It was a short week for them, too. Irish by 14.

Washington (+6½) at Michigan (7 p.m., Ch. 7): Everything makes more sense when you have a quarterback, and the Wolverines just might have that guy in Cade McNamara. The Huskies are coming off a humiliating 13-7 loss to Montana, but they’ve got more juice defensively than most Big Ten teams. Go Blue, 23-13.

No. 21 Utah (-7) at BYU (9:15 p.m., ESPN): It’s the best rivalry nickname of them all: the Holy War. The Utes have won nine in a row head-to-head, and there’s nothing holy about that kind of abuse. Make it 10, by 10.

My favorite favorite: Kentucky (-5) vs. Missouri (6:30 p.m., SEC): The Wildcats are going to be a tough out for anybody in the SEC East.

My favorite underdog: Connecticut (+35) vs. Purdue (2 p.m., CBSSN): The Huskies already have fired their coach. They’re unimaginably terrible. Yet it’s our sworn duty to take a five-touchdown underdog at home.

Last week: 5-5 straight-up, 6-4 against the spread.

Season to date: Same. 

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