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Northern Iowa Panthers vs. Iowa State Cyclones Odds & Game Pick (2021)

by September 1, 2021
Will McElvain

Everyone loves an in-state rivalry. FCS or FBS does not matter. This game will give one fanbase bragging rights for two years since these teams play every other year. Northern Iowa keeps this game close. There are few outliers in the past, but overall this is a good matchup. The first game of the year and an in-state rivalry game means anything can happen. The Northern Iowa versus Iowa State series has been on and off since 1899. Both teams want to win this game.

Iowa State looks good this year. Matt Campbell has taken the program and turned it around since Paul Rhodes left in 2016. They have experience and have started winning the big games. He has great weapons on the offensive and defensive side of the ball. Northern Iowa coach Farley has been great. He still has not named a starting quarterback while the battle between transfer Theo Day and Will McElvain continues. Northern Iowa versus Iowa State is going to be a great game to watch on Saturday.

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  • Opening Lines: Spread Iowa State -37.5
  • Current Winning Streak: Iowa State (2)
  • Record: Iowa State (23-5-3)
  • Last Meeting: August 23, 2019, Iowa State (29-26 3OT)






Saturday 4:30 PM EDT – ESPN+ | Jack Trice Stadium


This game is not a lock for Iowa State. Matt Campbell always has a slow start in the first game of the year. Going 2-3 in Week 1, Matt Campbell has a trend of struggling during Week 1. Iowa State usually plays a good team in week 1. Between Iowa, Louisiana, and Northern Iowa, they are well-coached teams. This year Cambell has a great offense. QB Brock Purdy has proven to be a fantastic signal-caller. Purdy has targets in Xavier Hutchinson, Tarique Milton, Chase Allen, and Charlie Kolar. RB Breece Hall is one of the top backs in the nation. The offensive line is full of experienced starters that have proven to be one of the best in the Big 12. Iowa State is an offense that can score quickly or control possession time. 

Iowa State’s defense is great as well. Led by Mike Rose and Greg Eisworth II, this is a defense that is going to play hard. The secondary is strong and the pass rush can get to the quarterback. The defense has a ton of experience and plays some of the best offenses every week in the Big 12.  With the experience of this defense. Plus key players, are part of why this team is ranked #7 to start the season. Iowa State is a very balanced team. Northern Iowa will have its hands full in Ames, IA. 

Northern Iowa went 3-4 in the spring season but played some of the best FCS schools with South Dakota State (24-20) and North Dakota State (23-20). Northern Iowa has a decent offense. Coach Farley is trying to figure out the quarterback situation for Saturday’s game. Transfer QB Theo Day has made a competition for the starting position. We won’t know until later this week who will be behind center. Preseason All-American WR Isaiah Weston will be a great target for whoever starts at quarterback. The veteran offensive line will be able to hold their own this year. Northern Iowa will not be able to score a ton of points, but they will be able to score.

Northern Iowa is deep on defense. After losing some key players to the NFL they will be looking to fill the gaps in defensive tackle and safety. Luckily Northern Iowa has depth in their secondary. Defensive line coach Bryce Paup typically has someone ready to fill any empty positions. Linebackers are going to be a solid position group as the three best players are juniors. This will be a great FCS defense that can certainly compete with FBS schools. Northern Iowa is going to get some stops against a great Iowa State offense. 

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Bottom Line

Anything can happen in this in-state rivalry game. Both teams are going to play for bragging rights. Coach Matt Campbell and Coach Farley know each other well. This will make this a tough matchup for both teams. This is going to be a closer game than everyone thinks. Iowa State always has a slow start. Between a slow start, familiarity, and the in-state rivalry this game will be a tight one. Northern Iowa covers the spread. 

Pick: UNI +37.5

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Cameron Lynch is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Cameron, check out his archive and follow him @captron26.

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