Four things to know when Iowa football hosts Iowa State in the latest Cy-Hawk showdown

The buildup to last season's Cy-Hawk matchup was enormous, so much so that it was  considered one of the biggest games in the rivalry's history.

However, the reality didn't match hype. Iowa football pulled away in the second half for a 27-17 victory. It was a fine game but nothing historic. 

This season's game doesn't have the same hype, but the intrigue is very much present. 

Iowa and Iowa State enter the Week 2 matchup on different footing. The Hawkeyes just squeaked by South Dakota State in a 7-3 season-opening win while the Cyclones dominated their FCS opponent Southeast Missouri State by a 42-10 margin. After such different results, fans on both sides are anxiously awaiting Saturday's matchup. 

This year's Iowa State team will likely have a new identity. The majority of the core that built the program's recent success under coach Matt Campbell is gone, including several all-time Cyclones greats like quarterback Brock Purdy, running back Breece Hall, tight end Charlie Kolar and linebacker Mike Rose.

Without that core of experience and talent, Campbell's phrase "win in the margin" is more important than ever. 

The Cyclones will have to execute on a high level, do all the "little things" right and probably win close games to sustain success this year. Close games is where Iowa's dominated the series recently; each of Iowa's last four wins have come by 10 points or less. Overall, Iowa's won their last nine single-possession games. 

One of the biggest football games of the year for both programs is here and there's plenty of matchups to watch. Here's four things to know and watch when the latest chapter of Cy-Hawk is written on Saturday: 

More:Smith's thoughts on Iowa football's Week 1 depth chart, which sheds light on injury buzz

New faces in Iowa State's backfield 

It's hard not to think of Purdy and Hall when thinking of Iowa State football. The tandem are two of the most accomplished at their position in school history, racking up several All-Big 12 and, in Hall's case, All-American accolades. And now both are on NFL rosters with Purdy making the San Francisco 49ers 53-man roster and Hall being a featured back for the New York Jets. 

Last Saturday saw the debut of Iowa State's new-look backfield. At quarterback the Cyclones are led by redshirt sophomore Hunter Dekkers, a former four-star recruit from Hawarden, Iowa. Dekkers actually played in last year's Cy-Hawk game in relief of Purdy, who threw three interceptions. Dekkers first game was nearly perfect (albeit against an inferior opponent in SEMO), passing for 293 yards, four touchdowns and an 80% completion percentage. 

Similar to Iowa, the Cyclones played their bowl game last season without their starting running back in Hall. That allowed for Jirehl Brock to get his feet wet as a starter. Now Brock is the full-time starter but is being pushed by a group of true freshmen backs (sound familiar?).

Freshmen names to watch are Cartevious Norton and Eli Sanders, each showed flashes in the season opener. 

More:Iowa football has no plans to bench Spencer Petras after lackluster opener, Kirk Ferentz says

A new wrinkle in Iowa State's offense 

Iowa State wide receiver Xavier Hutchinson (8), a two-time All-Big 12 selection is the Cyclones' biggest offensive weapon.

A play that went down in the stat book as a regular incompletion in Iowa's season opener was one of the biggest in the game. Early in the first half, a South Dakota State wide receiver broke away from Iowa's secondary and was open for what would've been a walk-in touchdown but was overthrown. South Dakota State didn't try to attack Iowa's secondary downfield after that. Was that a mistake?

Iowa State usually wouldn't try to stretch Iowa vertically either, but Saturday might be different. 

As prolific as Purdy was as Iowa State's quarterback, there was one area of his game that wasn't particularly great later in his college career: throwing downfield. Iowa Sate's pass offense mostly operated in short-, mid-range passing lanes under Purdy, which worked to their advantage given they had Hall in the screen game and a bevy of tight ends at their disposal. 

Insert Dekkers, who is essentially the opposite. He has the arm strength to challenge opponents on deep passing plays. Purdy averaged 7.5 and 7.8 yards per pass attempt in his final two years at Iowa State, Dekkers nearly reached 10 yards per pass (9.5) in Iowa State's first game. 

Two-time All-Big 12 receiver Xavier Hutchinson is the Cyclones top weapon, he and Dekkers connected for three touchdowns last week. The other name to watch is sophomore Jaylin Noel, one of the fastest players on Iowa State's team. 

Iowa football vs. South Dakota State recap:Hawkeyes survive low-scoring defensive battle

A big challenge (but potential opportunity) for Iowa's offensive line 

Iowa's offensive line will face a big challenge on Saturday: containing Iowa State edge rusher Will McDonald IV.

One of the most disappointing aspects of Iowa's season opener was the lack of push the offensive line generated. Several players made their first start at new positions, Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said it will be used as a great teaching tool this week. The line play will need to improve as Iowa State has one of the best defensive linemen in the country. 

The Cyclones return defensive end Will McDonald IV, an All-American candidate and potential NFL Draft first-rounder in 2023. The 6-foot-3, 236-pounder is already the school's all-time sacks leader (29) and is on pace to break Von Miller's Big 12 record (33) this season. He'll present a great challenge to Iowa tackles Mason Richman and Jack Plumb, who both struggled last season against elite competition on the edge. 

Elsewhere, Iowa State has question marks on the defensive line. They're replacing two of three starters from last year, one of them being Eyioma Uwazurike, a fourth-round NFL Draft pick in 2022. The Cyclones utilized heavy rotations last Saturday but there weren't any standout of note in week 1. McDonald will be tough to contain but could Iowa win the match or at least hold serve against several new faces on the Cyclones front? Winning the line of scrimmage on Saturday is critical for the Hawkeyes. 

Leistikow's DVR Monday:Digging into quarterback play, predictability in Iowa football's opener

As always, pay attention to special teams 

Iowa's special teams unit was a primary reason for their win last Saturday. Sophomore Aaron Blom chipped in three points on a 46-yard field goal and punter Tory Taylor was arguably the MVP with his 10-punt performance, two of them leading to safeties forced by the Iowa defense. 

Once again, special teams will be crucial on Saturday. Iowa State is breaking in new specialists with two true freshman at kicker and punter. Jace Gilbert, the kicker, didn't attempt a field goal last Saturday but kicked for a few touchbacks on kickoff. Punter Tyler Perkins had three punts for a 46.7 yard average and one punt inside the 20-yard line. 

Iowa usually has the decisive advantage at punter but Blom missed a field goal in addition to his make last Saturday. It's expected to be a low-scoring game, will either side need their specialists to come up big?

Seems likely. 

Podcast:How concerning was Iowa's offense in 2022 opener?

Kennington Lloyd Smith III covers Iowa Hawkeyes football and men's basketball for the Des Moines Register. You can connect with Kennington on Twitter @SkinnyKenny_ or email him at