AMES - ISU senior quarterback Steele Jantz brought a lot of late-game magic to the table last season as he helped Iowa State to a second straight bowl game.
The Cyclones, who began the season with a home win over Tulsa on Saturday, will be looking for that same kind of magic when Jantz leads Iowa State into Kinnick Stadium this weekend to face the instate rival Hawkeyes.
"I saw a lot of things from Steele," Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads said. "I saw a composed quarterback. He made good decisions. He ran well. And he threw the deep ball well."
Iowa State quarterback Steele Jantz, left, threw for 279 yards and four scores against Iowa last season in a triple-overtime victory at Jack Trice Stadium. The Cyclones and Jantz will travel to Iowa City this year with kickoff for Saturday’s Cy-Hawk Trophy game set for 2:42 p.m.
Jantz often times did not make good decisions last year, which ultimately led to losing the starting job to sophomore Jared Barnett. Jantz earned the job back in fall camp, and Rhoads said his quarterback is much better this time around.
Jantz could not have been much better against Iowa last year during the Cyclones' 44-41 three-overtime thriller at Jack Trice Stadium. He completed 67 percent of his passes, threw for 279 yards and had four touchdown passes and no interceptions. It was ultimately his best game all of last season.
Iowa State wide receiver Josh Lenz believes the best from Jantz is still to come though.
"He has more confidence now, and is more poised in the pocket," Lenz said.
That could be trouble for the Hawkeyes, who allowed just 17 points to Northern Illinois last week. Iowa did allow Northern Illinois QB Jordan Lynch to score on a 73-yard run and Lynch also went over 100 yards rushing in the game.
Last year, Jantz beat the Hawkeyes with his arm, but also kept plays alive with his feet. The Hawkeyes will likely try to make sure Jantz is contained in the pocket and allow the experienced secondary to cover Iowa State's weapons downfield.
That would be just what Iowa State wants if you ask defensive lineman Jake McDonough.
"He wants to be a thrower first," McDonough said. "He is not afraid to take chances. It is nice to see."
Iowa begins the week as a 3.5-point favorite at home. That line is likely to change as the week progresses. The Hawkeyes will have to play a lot better offensively Saturday to have any chance of taking back the Cy-Hawk Trophy and leaving it in Iowa City.
"There were things that were disappointing at times, and those are things that are correctable with time hopefully," Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said after the Hawkeyes' win Saturday. "I was really proud of our effort, and the way the guys hung in there."
Jantz has never played inside Kinnick Stadium before. He had the tendency to make mistakes last year and had another bad interception against Tulsa on Saturday. But he looked more confident and much more poised than at any point last season.
"The offense was really clicking out there," Iowa State linebacker Jake Knott said. "It feels good knowing that if the defense makes a play, the offense will likely be able to put some points on the board."
Iowa will be at home for the first time this season Saturday. The Hawkeyes had to rally late this past weekend to beat Northern Illinois, 18-17.
The Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series matchup begins at 2:42 p.m. in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes have a 2-0 lead in the series following an Iowa win in women's soccer.