The world’s least attractive slump buster is next on the schedule. They may be ugly, but will get the job done.
2016 Game X: Iowa State (1-8, 0-6) vs. Kansas University (1-8, 0-6)
Date: Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016
Time: 11 A.M. CST
Location: Memorial Stadium, Lawrence, Kansas
Capacity: 50,071 (there will be 5,000 fans there, maybe)
Line: Iowa State -10 (you read that right)
Radio: Cyclone Radio Network
Kansas SB Nation Website – Rock Chalk Talk
When We Last Left Off
Iowa State is quite possibly the best 1-8 team in America. And that’s not an exaggeration.
For a team to lose all but one game this season, it’s as if they are playing every week for a bowl game, and that is a direct correlation to how this coaching staff has prepared this team week in and week out, and kept them focused.
Iowa State has lost 6 conf games by 11.2 pts on avg. Only 4 seasons since 1960 with smaller avg margin in conf losses ('05, '63, '73, '92).— Kirk Haaland (@khaal53) November 8, 2016
According to Captain Kirk Haaland, cofounder of www.cfbanalytics.com, this team has played their opponents close, and that’s an exciting thing for the future of this program.
Not only that, but ISU has covered the Vegas spread in 6 of their last 7 games with their only gaffe on the road at Texas.
Yes, last week ISU lost their sixth straight conference game to the Oklahoma Sooners, but screw Boomer Sooner — on to Kansas.
Kansas is just as bad as you think they are. They also carry a 1-8 record into Saturday’s affair, and have probably circled this date on the calendar just as the Cyclone faithful have.
Looking at some Big 12 statistics, they rank dead last in the following categories: scoring offense, total offense, first downs, third-down conversions, turnover margin, and red zone offense. They are second-to-last in the conference in scoring defense, rushing offense and rushing defense; and while they are actually third in the league in passing defense, they are third-to-last in passing defensive efficiency.
In other words, their offense can’t move the ball, and while they give up few passing yards, it’s because their defense is so bad that teams can run the ball all over them.
Even the electoral college was ranked above KU in the most recent College Football Playoff poll.
There is not a rainbow on the other side for this Kansas football team.
Believe it or not, Kansas leads the all-time series 50-39-6, with ISU winning 5 of the last 6 contests.
It appears the future of this team is strongly on the shoulders of Mr. Jacob Park. The Georgia Bulldog transfer has been given the keys to the car and this coaching staff is taking their foot off the brakes. I see Park having a big day against the Jayhawks, racking up the yards, and doing a fantastic job of getting the ball to: David Montgomery OR Kene Nwangwu OR Mike Warren.
All three are listed as co-starters on the depth chart, and according to coach Matt Campbell, are cleared to play. Montgomery was knocked out of last game with a head injury and Warren held out with an ankle, er momma issue. Either way, all three will get their fair share of touches and can run wild against this pathetic defense.
Allen Lazard will get his own, as will Deshaunte Jones, Trever Ryen and Dondre Daley. Ryen clearly isn’t playing at 100%, as his touches have dropped significantly over the last few weeks, but I would say that is more due to the fact that Deshaunte Jones has stolen his thunder. Jones has found a knack at finding space in the open field, and Daley is a fantastic target in the red zone.
First Key to Victory – Offensive Line Needs to Show Us What They’re Made Of
This team should have a heyday, and it all starts up front with the offensive line. KU is God awful at stopping the run, and I am looking forward to seeing this patchwork group of hog mollies pushing their way down the field and ISU running for 250+ yards.
It may not come from just the running backs though, as Joel Lanning has proven he is a hot commodity in the red zone and in short-yardage situations. Joel could easily run for 6 or 7 touchdowns in this one.
Did I say this unit was bad yet?
Yes, OK, they’re giving up more than 40 points per game, 224 yards on the ground, and another 239 through the air. That passing defense is much better than last year, but it doesn’t matter when opponents are getting the ball with great field position.
If there is anything this defense is supposedly good at it’s third down defense. They lead the conference in that statistic, but anybody would be good if their opponent is moving the sticks on second and first down — or just scoring every time…
KU does have a pass rusher in Dorance Armstrong, as the 246-pound defensive end leads the Big 12 in tackles-for-loss and is second in sacks. The talented sophomore can do it in a variety of ways, and has brought down the quarterback in six consecutive games.
Safety Fish Smithson (yes, that is his name) leads the team in tackles with 64, and led the nation in solo stops last season. It’s definitely not a good sign when your safety is leading your team in tackles, but not many opponents can get by #9.
His counterpart, safety Mike Lee, is skipping his senior prom to play for the Jayhawks this season. The freshman forwent his last year of high school to enroll early, has started the last four games for KU, and is second on the team in tackles.
Verdict — Iowa State
ISU should be able to run the ball with their four-headed monster, and the offensive line needs to sustain drives, making third down manageable and put up points when they get in the red zone. It would be great for Mike Warren to break out of his slump and have a successful day.
Last week we saw a plethora of exotic blitzes against Oklahoma and it worked for the most part. This secondary is legit, and if ISU can gain pressure it changes the entire demeanor of this defense.
They have held all four of their previous opponents below their season-scoring average, and now they face the Big 12’s worst in Kansas, who put up a paltry 19.6 per game.
KU’s quarterbacks have the ability to run the ball if forced out of the pocket, and it will be important for the likes of Willie Harvey and Brian Mills to hold their containment.
Kamari Cotton-Moya is having an All-Big-12 type of season, and moving Jhaustin Thomas on the inside of the defensive line has done wonders at stopping the run.
When you’re a cornerback and the announcer is not mentioning your name, that usually means you’re playing well. Brian Peavy goes underappreciated on this defense, and he’s having a stellar sophomore campaign.
Second Key to Victory – Play Fundamental Football
This is pretty self-explanatory. The defense needs to play good, sound football. That means the defensive line needs to fill their gaps, linebackers need to wrap up, and the defensive backs need to be in the right place at the right time. The rest will take care of itself.
As bad as the KU defense is, their offense is even worse. They’ve thrown an impressive 18 interceptions and lost 11 fumbles on the year, giving up 78 points off those turnovers. I don’t care who you are, turnovers like that can kill the momentum at a moment’s notice.
The Jayhawks started the year with quarterback Montell Cozart under center, and after that didn’t work they went to Ryan Willis (he was sacked 14 times in 3 games), and then went back to Mr. Reliable Cozart.
The two quarterbacks are mirror images to the combo passing attack at ISU — similarly averaging a near-60% completion rate and 244 yards per game through the air. Cozart can scoot, and has shown his wheels on occasion, but neither quarterback is efficient. Third-string Carter Stanley came in last week and went 9-for-11 against West Virginia scrubs and could see some playing time against the Clones.
The Jayhawks have a stud receiver in sophomore Steven Sims, and combined with his counterpart LaQuvionte Gonzalez, they total 98 catches on the year. Sims has been the home-run threat, scoring 6 touchdowns and averaging 78 yards per game.
The running game has averaged all of 3.3 yards per carry, and is led by senior Ke’aun Kinner and his 492 yards on the ground. They are horrible at moving the chains, as they are dead last in first downs and third-down conversions.
Verdict – ISU
This defensive attack has played surprisingly well over the season, and while their rush defense is their kryptonite, KU lacks a decent offensive line to exploit it. I see Peavy and Wiltz blanketing both of their top receivers, and our line will gain pressure up front.
I have saved this statistic for last.
In 9 games this season, KU has seen 45 punts come their way, and has returned 4 of them.
Their total return yardage is NEGATIVE TWO.
That’s right they average -0.5 yards per return on the year.
Since the defense is so good at letting teams score, they have seen a number of kick returns, and Gonzalez averages 20 yards per return and brought back a 99-yard TD to the house.
KU’s kicker is 7-for-12 on field goals, and their punter averages 42 yards per punt, which is serviceable.
ISU on the other hand, has one of the nation’s best duos in Trever Ryen (who averages 17 yards per punt return), and true freshman Kene Nwangwu (24.5 on kick returns). Both could have a big day, and I am just waiting for Nwangwu to break one.
Verdict – ISU
Just for the fact that Kansas has negative yards in punt returns, you have to give ISU the victory here.
In case you haven’t noticed, on paper this game is all Iowa State.
Third Key to Victory – Don’t Overlook Kansas, aka Don’t Fuck Up
This Cyclone team is hungry for a victory, and Campbell made that clear in his press conference on Monday.
“I told our kids and our coaches that we are not playing for next year, I am playing for right now,” the first-year coach said. “We are not quitting on those seniors either and will do everything in my power for those kids to win their remaining football games.”
There are two ways a team can go when they are 1-8 — either roll over and quit, or continue to get better and improve upon what you can control.
Clearly this team is focused on the latter, and they will reap the benefits come Saturday.