The No. 7 ranked Iowa State Cyclones kick their 2021 campaign off at home against the Northern Iowa Panthers at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames on Saturday.
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The game (4 p.m. ET start time) isn’t on TV anywhere, but anyone in the US can watch Northern Iowa vs Iowa State live on ESPN+:
With ESPN+, you’ll be able to stream hundreds of live college football games during the 2021 season. It also includes dozens of other live sports, every 30-for-30 documentary and additional original content (both video and written) all for $6.99 per month.
Or, if you also want Disney+ and Hulu, you can get all three for $13.99 per month. Separately, the three streaming services would cost a total $20.97 per month, so you’re saving about 33 percent:
Once signed up for ESPN+, you can watch Northern Iowa vs Iowa State live on the ESPN app on your Roku, Roku TV, Amazon Fire TV or Firestick, Apple TV, Chromecast, PlayStation 4 or 5, Xbox One or Series X/S, any device with Android TV (such as a Sony TV or Nvidia Shield), Samsung Smart TV, Oculus Go, iPhone, Android phone, iPad or Android tablet.
You can also watch on your computer via ESPN.com.
Northern Iowa vs Iowa State Preview
The Cyclones finished 9-3 (8-1 in the Big 12) last season, and they looked solid on both sides of the ball, averaging 32.9 points and 436.3 yards per game of total offense while allowing 21.4 points a game on defense.
Iowa State has 20 of its 23 starters from that group returning this season, which bodes well for its chances to finish atop the Big 12 again. “You got a set of veteran guys that have played a lot of football,” Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell said about the challenges of shaping his roster this year, adding:
“How do we improve those guys? How do those guys take another step forward? We got a big chunk of guys that have played marginally and some guys played with success. Some guys haven’t played with a lot of success. How do we get those guys and figure out the consistency and be able to get those guys to play the level of excellence we need?”
Quarterback Brock Purdy will be back under center for Iowa State. Purdy completed 66.6% of his passes for 2,750 yards, 19 touchdowns and nine interceptions last season while also adding 382 yards and five scores on the ground, so Northern Iowa will have to find ways to limit his game.
On the other side, the Panthers finished with a 3-4 record last season. UNI averaged an unimpressive 19.6 points a game on offense, but a stingy defense kept them in most games. Northern Iowa surrendered just 15.3 points a game on defense, so if the offense can finally get humming, the group will be in business.
Quarterback Will McElvain didn’t play much last year, missing several weeks due to COVID-19 protocols. His last full season was in 2019, when he finished 203-382 for 2,778 yards, 20 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Panthers head coach Mark Farley is likely going to roll with McElvain out of the gate, but he took his sweet time declaring a winner for the QB competition.
“Will has really ramped up his game, elevated his game and did the things that he needed to do to become a better quarterback for us,” Farley said. “Plus, his experience has really helped him to go to another level with his game.”
McElvain’s experience will likely make him the starter initially, but with Theo Day waiting in the wings, he’ll have a short leash.
UNI has all 22 starters back on both sides of the ball, which is a rare thing for any team to have happen.
“From my understanding, knowing coach Campbell, is these games are important to him, too. Because, this is his background,” Farley said. “He came from Division III and came up the ranks and didn’t get a job just because of his last name or maybe the shirt that he wore as a player. This is a huge game to us, whether it’s Iowa or Iowa State.”
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