Iowa State Cyclones (2-0 SU, 1-1 ATS) at Connecticut Huskies (1-1 SU, 0-2 ATS), Friday September 16th, 2011 8:00PM EST, College Football Week 3
Rentschler Field East Hartford, CT
By Jay Horne, College Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: ISU +4/UConn -4
Over/Under Total: OFF
The Iowa State Cyclones knocked off their rivals in the Iowa Hawkeyes last week in a 44-41 triple overtime thriller. The win marked the Cyclones first victory over the Hawkeyes since the 2007 season and confirmed that Coach Paul Rhoads has Iowa State on the path to success. This week Iowa State takes the road and travels to East Hartford to battle with the Connecticut Huskies in attempt to reach the 3-0 mark for the first time since the 2005 season.
Their opponent is a Connecticut Huskies team that suffered a close loss on the road to Vanderbilt last week 24-21. The loss snapped a Huskies 6 game regular season winning streak and marked the first loss for new head coach Paul Pasqualoni moving the Huskies to 1-1 on the season. The Huskies are a team still trying to find their identity in the post Randy Edsall era and just maybe they will get the chance to right the ship when they take the national stage this Friday night in a big 8:00PM EST ESPN televised match-up.
Neither offense entering Friday night’s meeting had much to cheer about throughout the 2010 season. Both Connecticut and Iowa State ranked 95th and 99th in the nation in total offense averaging less than 325 yards per game. Last week Connecticut appeared even worse if that is even possible. The Huskies offense managed just 193 yards of total offense while giving up 4 turnovers against the Vanderbilt Commodores who are among the worst teams in the SEC.
The Huskies’ offensive problems starts and stops at the quarterback position. Last week, QB Johnny McEntee completed just 10 of 27 passing for 99 yards with 0 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. To say McEntee struggled, would be the understatement of the decade. Furthermore, there are not any clear answers if the quarterback situation is going to get better this season. Backup Michael Nebrich has only completed 4 of 10 passing this season without any touchdowns and 1 interception. The quarterback problems appear to be a problem that will not be going away any time soon.
However, the good news is Connecticut has had many successful seasons over the last few years without a premiere passing attack. The Huskies consistently produce strong rushing attacks year in and year out. This season freshman running back Lyle McCombs has shown some promising potential posting 100 yard plus performances in both games. McCombs is not a big powerful back, but has extreme quickness that can be dangerous in the open field. Expect Iowa State to focus their defensive attention on stopping McCombs and the Connecticut rushing attack.
The Iowa State offense biggest hurdle over the last two seasons has been inconsistency. The Cyclones offense was completely shutout by Oklahoma and Missouri in 2010. However, this is the same offense that posted 52 points in a win over Texas Tech and then scored 30 points in a close overtime loss to Nebraska. This season we have already seen similar performances through the opening two games. In the season opener, Iowa State struggled on offense and just barely skated by Northern Iowa 20-19. Then last week, the Cyclones torched the Iowa defense for 473 yards and 44 points.
This week the Cyclones offense will look for a repeat performance from the Iowa game. The Cyclones have the personnel to have a balanced offensive attack. QB Steele Jantz is a dual threat behind center. Jantz has rushed for 122 yards and two scores in the opening two games. Running back Shontrelle Johnson has rushed for 135 yards while averaging 5.0 yards per carry as well through those opening two games.
The Cyclones can definitely move the ball on the ground, but the x-factor relies on the arm of Steele Jantz. Jantz struggled in the opener against Northern Iowa tossing 1 touchdown compared to throwing 3 picks. However, the junior quarterback bounced back against the Hawkeyes last week completing 25 of 37 passing for 279 yards with 4 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. Obviously when Jantz throws the ball well, the Cyclones are extremely tough to defend. Therefore keep an eye on how Jantz starts this Friday night as it will likely set the tone for the Iowa State offense throughout the night.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread – I like Iowa State to win this game straight up. Therefore the points are just extra. Take the ISU Cyclones plus the four points.
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