Iowa State Cyclones face the Clemson Tigers Wednesday

The Iowa State Cyclones practice for the Cheez-It Bowl in Orlando, Florida.
The Iowa State Cyclones practice for the Cheez-It Bowl in Orlando, Florida.(KCRG)
Published: Dec. 29, 2021 at 5:43 AM CST
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ORLANDO, Fla. (KCRG) - The Iowa State Cyclones might be the underdog for Wednesday’s Cheez-It Bowl game against the Clemson Tigers, but they’re motivated to come away with a win.

The Tigers defense is ranked second in FBS, giving up just 15.0 points per game. And that’s been top of mind for both Cyclone coaches and players.

“They play very good defense for a long time there and that’s what we would anticipate,” said Offensive Coordinator Tom Manning.

“They remind me of all of the good defenses that we’ve played and I got a lot of respect for the linebacker, for the guys on the defensive line, as well as the safeties,” said Chase Allen, a 6th year tight end. “I think they play hard, they know what they’re doing, they go out there and execute.”

The Cyclones will also be without the best running back in the nation. Breece Hall is headed to the NFL. Manning acknowledges Hall played a lot of football for the team.

“Jirehl is a guy that has played a lot of football for us. Certainly Breece has carried the football a lot more as we all know and I think we have to give him the football game and see exactly where we’re at in terms of handing the football off and how much he can handle and make some decisions based on that.”

Manning also has two giant tight ends in Charlie Kolar and Chase Allen that can be tough to cover.

“It’s given us certainly flexibility, and I think we’ve been very lucky in terms of having Chase and Charlie that can play wide receiver and also play tight end and be multiple in that sense a bit, so I think that’s always out job to find what the best players on your team are and how you find the opportunities to be in the right situations personnel wise and formations.”

Manning also has a quarterback in Brock Purdy that knows how to play in big games and has been their and done that.

“I got a great sense of gratitude towards him just for his ability to just keep playing and keep playing and man, to handle all the things that he had to handle, with complete grace, humbleness, I don’t think anybody that has been an Iowa State football fan for a long time will ever forget Brock Purdy and what he’s been able to do over his career. Man he’s had some really good moments.”

Defensive Coordinator Wes Goodwin says Purdy can play well in the spotlight.

“Gamer, savy, you know he’s accurate, can’t say enough great things about him so it’s definitely gonna be a challenge for us and we’ve got our work cut out for us for sure,” said Goodwin.

And Iowa State has played big name opponents beating Oregon last year in the Fiesta Bowl so the name Clemson the uniforms won’t phase the Cyclones.

“Getting to play against the competition that we’ve played against the last three years, that’s what we’ve talked about when we first got here, that’s always been the goal and the mission,” said Allen.

Kickoff for the Cheez-It Bolw is at 4:45 p.m. It’s airing on EPSN.

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