Brock Purdy

Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy runs in a touchdown during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Baylor, Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018, in Ames.

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Before the start of Illinois football's training camp on Aug. 2 in Champaign, beat writer BOB ASMUSSEN is counting down the Top 50 teams heading into the 2019 college football season:

No. 21: Iowa State

Coach: Matt Campbell

2018 record: 8-5

Projected 2019 record: 9-3

Circle the date: Nov. 9 at Oklahoma

Bowl trip: Alamo

Why No. 21: Looks like former Illini star Nathan Scheelhaase made a great decision when he joined the Cyclones staff. Now the receivers coach, Scheelhaase has been a part of Iowa State’s resurgence. ... Yes, the Cyclones will miss running back David Montgomery and receiver Hakeem Butler, who both left early for the NFL. But there is oodles of talent still on hand thanks to the solid recruiting done by Campbell and his staff. ... Brock Purdy returns to lead the offense after throwing for 2,250 yards and 16 touchdowns. Purdy is also a threat as a runner, scoring another five times. ... Purdy went 7-2 as a freshman after taking over early in his first season. ... The offensive line figures to be a strength, with all five starters returning. ... Deshaunte Jones and Tarique Milton will be Purdy’s top targets. ... Seven starters are back on defense, including all three linemen. ... End JaQuan Bailey is a pain for opposing offenses. He had eight sacks last season. ... The Cyclones play all three nonconference games at home, including the annual grudge match against Iowa. ... In the Big 12, Iowa State hosts TCU, Oklahoma State and Texas. It travels to Oklahoma.

Last year’s ranking: No. 31

College Football Reporter/Columnist

Bob Asmussen is a college football reporter and columnist for The News-Gazette. His email is asmussen@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@BobAsmussen).