No. 21 Iowa State hosts rival Northern Iowa

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              FILE - In this Aug. 2, 2019, file photo, Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy throws a pass during an NCAA college football practice in Ames, Iowa. The Cyclones were ranked in the preseason poll for the first time in 41 years behind a punishing defense, a young quarterback who seems destined for stardom and a coach who always seems to push the right buttons. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)
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Northern Iowa (7-6 last season) at No. 21 Iowa State (8-5), Saturday at noon ET (FS1).

Line: No line.

Series record: Iowa State leads 22-6-3.

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

Iowa State was ranked in the preseason Top 25 for the first time in 41 years, and the excitement for a campaign has never been higher. A loss to the Panthers would erase all of that. Northern Iowa coach Mark Farley would become just the 10th coach with 150 FCS wins with a victory.

KEY MATCHUP

Iowa State’s defense vs. Northern Iowa QB Will McElvain. The Cyclones offered McElvain, a freshman, a preferred walk-on spot as a defensive back. But the former Des Moines Lincoln High star opted to stick at quarterback, and Farley recently named him the starter. Iowa State knows all about McElvain, a dual-threat guy, but that doesn’t mean he won’t make a few plays.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Iowa State: RB Breece Hall. One of Iowa State’s biggest recruits in years steps into a position of desperate need for the Cyclones. Hall will get his chance to show the coaching staff that he’s ready to be their bell cow right away.

Northern Iowa: CB Xavior Williams. He’ll likely be tasked with covering Iowa State veterans Tarique Milton and Deshaunte Jones, quarterback Brock Purdy’s top two returning targets.

FACTS & FIGURES

Iowa State’s 16 wins over the past two seasons ties the best stretch in school history. The Cyclones last did that in 2000-01. … Northern Iowa has split the last four meetings with the Cyclones, and it handed coach Matt Campbell a 25-20 loss in his debut at the school in 2016. … Iowa State’s 114 combined starts among its offensive linemen are the fifth-most in the FBS. … The Panthers have 64 players from Iowa on their roster. Iowa State has 43 homegrown guys.