Football: Preview at Iowa State

Austin Eckert | @AustinCEckert

Kansas football is coming off a 38-33 upset win on Homecoming weekend over No. 6 Oklahoma. The Jayhawks earned their sixth win of the season, making them bowl eligible. They now head to Ames this weekend to take on the Iowa State Cyclones.

It was their first AP top 10 win since the 2008 Orange Bowl against Virginia Tech.

On Sunday, the Jayhawks earned their spot in the AP Top 25 poll at 22. This is the third time this season that they have appeared in the poll. They also made the College Football Playoff rankings for the first time in program history on Tuesday night, taking the 21 spot.

This week for Kansas, they are looking for their first win as a ranked team this season, and for a long time.

The Jayhawks two losses this season have been in games where they have been ranked. As they are ranked this week, the thing to watch for will be how Kansas responds to success in previous weeks. Coach Leipold talked on Monday how important it was for his team to find success after big wins. They are 0-2 this season, and 0-4 during the Leipold era when ranked, but they will have a chance to flip that script this weekend.

The last time the Jayhawks have won a game as a ranked team was back on October 10, 2009 when they were ranked at 16, and took down the Iowa State Cyclones in Lawrence, 41-36. It’s only fitting for it being Iowa State week this week for the Jayhawks.

Kansas currently leads the all-time series over the Cyclones, 51-45-6. However, the Cyclones have the advantage in the matchups played in Ames, posting a 25-23-3 all-time record against the Jayhawks.

Iowa State is coming off a 30-18 win on the road in Waco over the Baylor Bears on Saturday. They finished the day with 400 total yards on offense, and made three fourth down stops and an interception on defense.

The Cyclones are currently tied for first place with Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, and Texas in the Big 12 standings with a 5-3 overall record that includes a 4-1 conference record.

The Jayhawks won the last matchup in a defensive battle, 14-11. Iowa State failed to capitalize on three field goal opportunities, including a 37-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter with a chance to tie the game. It was Kansas’ first win over the Cyclones since 2014. The Jayhawks have also not beaten the Cyclones in back-to-back seasons since 2005 and 2006.

Both teams are coming off conference wins, and will look to add another on Saturday. The Jayhawks have not won in Ames since 2008, where they won that matchup, 35-33.

Regarding the quarterback position for Kansas, the Jayhawks will likely stick with senior quarterback Jason Bean this weekend. Junior quarterback Jalon Daniels has not played since September 23 against BYU. Coach Leipold reiterated to the media on Monday, “when Daniels is healthy, he’s the starting quarterback, but we are not at that point today (Monday).”

Barring any major updates on Daniels, Bean will make his sixth start of the season.


Keys to the game and prediction:

The Jayhawks are looking to build off the momentum from last week’s win over the Sooners. In the last 20 night games for Iowa State, they have won 17 of those games. Kansas is going into a very tough environment at Jack Trice Stadium.

This is going to be a very tough game for Kansas in a hostile environment. Temperatures in Ames are expected to dip from the mid-40’s and upper 30’s.

At this point in the season, Iowa State is statistically one the best defenses in the Big 12. They have given up the least amount of total yards per game (326.4 yds/game) and have only allowed 203.3 passing yards, and 123.1 rushing yards a game.

I expect the Jayhawks to lean on their running game again, much like what they did last week. Sophomore running back Daniel Hishaw ran for two touchdowns, while junior running back Devin Neal got the majority of the workload in the run game, and ran in for the game-winning touchdown with 55 seconds remaining. With how tough this Iowa State defense has been, the way that the Jayhawks can wear them out, is to win the battle up front and feed the ball to their running backs.

This will be a low-scoring game. It’s going to come down to the turnovers, much like the past two games for the Jayhawks, and they’re going to need their defense to step up like they did last week against the Sooners.

For it being a tough road game for Kansas, they cannot afford to give Iowa State any opportunity to score off of mistakes. However, the Jayhawk defense will look to create more turnovers themselves. They were able to find three off of Oklahoma, with junior defensive back Mello Dotson’s interception return, and two fumbles.

This Iowa State offense hasn’t done much so far this season, yet they will look to run the ball like Kansas will, and execute in the short passing game with their freshman quarterback, Rocco Becht.

With the momentum that the Jayhawks have after their top 10 win over Oklahoma, I am going to pick the Jayhawks, but Iowa State has just as much of a chance to win this game as Kansas does. The Cyclones are currently favored by 2.5 points according to FanDuel.

They are going to have to lean on their running game again, win the battle up front on offense, and create more turnovers on defense. Jason Bean will also have to do a better job of taking care of the ball, as he’s thrown for four interceptions in the past two games.

This would be another huge win for the Kansas Jayhawk football program and for Lance Leipold, if they get the job done.


Final Score Prediction:

No. 22 Kansas: 28 Iowa State: 25

The No. 22 ranked Kansas Jayhawks will travel to Jack Trice Stadium in Ames this weekend to take on Iowa State at 6 p.m. CT.