Game No. 1
Matchup: Iowa State vs. Iowa
When: Saturday, September 9 at 2:30 p.m. CT on FOX
Prospect to Watch: T.J. Tampa - CB (Iowa State)
The cornerback depth is once again a strong-suit of the upcoming draft cycle. Lost in the shuffle a bit is Iowa State's T.J. Tampa, a long defender with all of the tools in the world. His lack of ball production in college could be a reason for his relatively quiet preseason hype among casual football viewers, but Tampa is a borderline first-round prospect who can really set himself up nicely with a strong 2023 season.
He is a phenomenal athlete with the size, speed, and demeanor to be an NFL star, which is what Iowa State is hoping he becomes. There has been some mid-week back-and-forth between the Iowa wide receivers and Iowa State's secondary, so this is certainly going to be an entertaining matchup to watch.
The Vikings have worked to address the secondary over the past two offseasons under Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O'Connell, and that should still be a point of emphasis for 2024 as well. If T.J. Tampa continues on his current trajectory, he fits the type of player the Vikings not only lack but also the kind of player that they have searched for in recent years.
Lewis Cine and Andrew Booth were both drafted by the Vikings in part due to their aggressiveness and controlled recklessness. While the result has yet to show, it does lend a glimpse into the type of athletes the Vikings want in their secondary. They showed that desire again by signing Byron Murphy in free agency to give a veteran presence to the cornerback depth chart.
The Iowa-Iowa State rivalry is an underrated aspect of college football, and this game should be one of the best of the weekend. Iowa is looking to break out of the poor offense they are accustomed to, but T.J. Tampa and the Iowa State secondary will be a tough test.