We’re still a few months away from the College Football season, but that means we have ample time to speculate and come up with our spicy hot takes.
Here’s mine: The Iowa State Cyclones will win the Big 12.
Before you jump all over me to say that the Big 12 belongs to Oklahoma, and before you point out the fact Iowa State has never won the Conference, hear me out.
First of all, Vegas agrees with me that they at least have a legitimate shot to pull it off. WynnBET has odds posted to win each of the Power 5 conferences, and they have Iowa State second on the odds list to win the Big 12. Unsurprisingly, Oklahoma is set as the +100 favorite, but it’s the Cyclones who are next on the odds list at +350. This means Vegas is giving Iowa State a 22.22% chance of winning the conference for the first time.
The Matt Campbell era has been good to Iowa State. After a 3-9 record in his first year as head coach, the Cyclones have put together four straight winning seasons including two bowl victories. They took yet another step forward in 2020, as they finished with a conference best 8-1 record, before falling to Oklahoma 27-21 in the Big 12 Championship Game.
Iowa State went on to defeat No. 25 Oregon 34-17 in the Fiesta Bowl.
There are a lot of things to like about Iowa State heading into the 2021 season, mainly the fact that they have a good chunk of starters returning for another year. Their offense, which averaged 436 yards and 33 points per game in 2020, will have 10 starters returning this fall.
Most importantly, quarterback Brock Purdy will be returning for his final season of eligibility. The star signal-caller threw for 2,750 yards and 19 touchdowns in 2020, and completed passes at a rate of 66.6%, a career high. WynnBET has him listed on the Heisman odds list at +3000 for the 2021 season.
Not only are they primed for another strong offensive season, but 12 of their 15 top tacklers on defense will be returning for 2021. Most notably, linebacker Mike Rose will be back in the lineup this season. Rose, who established himself as one of the best linebackers in college football, led the Big 12 in tackles in 2020 with 96.
Iowa State may be regarded as a long time loser of the Big 12, but Matt Campbell has changed the culture and turned them into winners. After falling only six points short of their first Big 12 Championship last season, I expect the Cyclones to be back with a vengeance in 2021.