2017 Game XII: Iowa State (7-4, 5-4) vs. Kansas State (6-5, 4-4)
Date: Saturday, November 25th, 2017
Time: 2:30 P.M. CST
Location: Bill Snyder Family Stadium, Manhattan, KS
Line: Kansas State -3
Radio: Cyclone Radio Network
Kansas State SB Nation Website – Bring On the Cats
The Iowa State team of old would have found some way to lose that game at Baylor. Going on the road, we typically see a bad call that devastates not only the fan base, but also sends a shockwave through the players psyche. This team thrives on a challenge. They stare adversity in the face and say “bring it on.”
A good friend of mine, who has been to multiple road games, said last weekend’s victory broke his 13-game road losing streak. That my fellow Cyclone fans, was a culture win.
When we last left off….
Iowa State took care of business in a road game at Baylor, and moved their win total to 7, and a program-record 5 conference victories. And they did it behind Zeb Noland and his first start. As a freshman.
Noland came in just like the two quarterbacks before him, and managed the offense flawlessly. That means no turnovers and no mistakes. This isn’t common ladies and gentlemen. Tom Manning needs to get his due for the work he has put in. By the way, that was probably the best our offensive line has looked all year.
David Montgomery went down with an injury, and what first looked to be a season-ending play, has turned into a sprain. Coach Campbell said the DM Train should be “ready to rock and roll on Saturday.”
The defense did what the defense has done all year. They see what the offense likes, and then make adjustments accordingly. Baylor scored a touchdown on their opening drive, and then didn’t find the end zone the rest of the way. Two huge turnovers in the red zone proved to be the plays of the game, and none bigger than this one by Mr. Brian Peavy.
Kansas State Tidbits
“They are Who We Thought They Were”
This K-State team is just like every other Wildcat team we have seen in the past. They play similarly to Iowa State, in the way that they don’t beat themselves. Their offense is predicated on running the football, and the defense is about as fundamentally sound as they get. Oh, and their special teams is one of the best in the country.
So far on the season, Kansas State is 6-5 and became bowl-eligible with a season-defining win over 10th ranked Oklahoma State last week. They did it just like ISU – behind a third-string freshman quarterback, and were deservedly named FWAA National Team of the Week.
Kansas State was picked to finish in the upper tier of the Big 12 Conference, but have lost heartbreaking games to Texas and Texas Tech, (both in OT), and West Virginia. They actually average more yards rushing than passing per game, and the defense has not been as stout as in years past.
Something was released in the media last week about K-State’s athletic director going behind Bill Snyder’s back and hiring former assistant Jim Leavitt to replace the ageless 78-year old. Apparently, the vampire nixed any type of talk, as he still plans on passing the reigns down to his son Sean Snyder, and the school’s top officials aren’t happy about it…
Somehow, ISU leads this all-time series 49-47-4, but K-State has dominated the rivalry recently, winning the last NINE games. Former Wildcat quarterback Jake Waters is on ISU’s staff and will hopefully give us some pointers on what Snyder’s secret sauce is.
It’s truly amazing how similar these two teams are. In the way they prepare, to the way they understand how small their margin for errors are. I see a low-scoring and tight matchup in this one.
Iowa State Offense
Zeb Noland is the likely starter for Saturday, although Kyle Kempt is available. Noland has a cannon for an arm, as he put it on full display with his two deep passes for touchdowns last week. Look for Manning to put the freshman in simple situations, getting the ball to our receivers in space horizontally, and taking advantage of the play-action for passes downfield.
Hakeem the Dream Butler can get past this defense, as K-State gives up the most passing yards per game in the conference, and burn a young and inexperienced secondary. Allen Lazard loves to play against this team, as he has 263 yards and 3 TDs in his career, and look for him to continue his stellar play.
K-State will give Iowa State yards underneath, and that is exactly what Noland needs to do – give what the defense allows. That means dinking and dunking and finding our open receivers by way of short screens, underneath curls, and simple out-routes by the sidelines.
The offensive line will have their work cut out for them, as Kansas State is once again tough against the rush. The health of David Montgomery changes this offensive attack immensely, as the true sophomore accounts for more than 88% of ISU’s rushing yards on the year (most in NCAA). If he can’t go, look for Sheldon Croney to step up in a big way, as we saw flashes of brilliance from the sophomore last week.
First Key to Victory – Score TDs in the Red Zone
The only team better than Kansas State at holding teams inside the 20 is TCU. Opportunities in the red zone will be few and far between, and ISU needs to put up 6s when they get down close to the goal line. The best play thus far has been the back-shoulder fade to Lazard and Matt Eaton. I see a big day out of Joel Lanning, as he will come in the clutch for short-yardage situations, and there will be lots of them against this defense.
Kansas State Defense
So far on the season, this defense’s kryptonite has been by way of the pass. Granted, most teams in the Big 12 put up video-game like numbers, but no defense has given up more passing yards per game than Kansas State – and its not even close.
This speaks volumes for the Wildcat’s defensive scheme – as they have a bend-but-don’t-break mentality, and really focus on stuffing the run game. This plays right into the advantage of Iowa State.
They run a standard 4-3 base, mixed in with a nickel package on passing downs. The Wildcats are led up front by All-Conference defensive tackle Will Geary, who has 41 career starts to his name. So far, they are third in the Big 12 in rushing defense, and only allow 3.6 yards per carry.
K-State lost all of their starting linebackers from a year ago, but have a good one in Trent Tanking, who is a former walk-on and ranks seventh in the Big 12 in tackles. These linebackers are as fundamental as you can get, as they run sideline to sideline covering the pass, and wrap up at the point of attack.
Again, the secondary is young and inexperienced, and gives up a lot of yards. They don’t usually give up many deep throws, but over the course of the game have been known to let teams move the sticks down the field. They are led by their two cornerbacks D.J. Reed and Duke Shelley, who are in the top-30 nationally in passes defensed. Reed ranks second in the Big 12 in picks.
The Verdict – ISU by a nose
This matchup will most likely determine the outcome of this game. The fact that K-State’s pass defense gives up more yards than water through a strainer bodes well for the Cyclones. My big worry is with the DM Train not at 100%, they will HAVE to gain yards from other running backs (and LANRAM). The offense has to stay balanced in their approach. It’s your time to shine Sheldon Croney. Next man up!
Iowa State Defense
Another week, another stellar performance by the Iowa State defense versus Baylor. This will be a good test for our men on the d-line, as K-State has tons of size on the offensive line. I could see Jon Heacock turning to the 4-man front, as Kansas State loves to run the ball, no matter the situation.
Second Key to Victory – Slow Down the Running Game
A huge focal point is the outside edge, as both J.D. Waggoner and JaQuan Bailey have to stay sound in their gaps if they want to contain the rush. Bailey has shown flashes, but needs to stay consistent throughout.
Our linebackers will rack up the tackles in this one, as Joel Lanning and company will see a lot of misdirections, pulling guards, and lead blockers to create space for Wildcat runners. They have to shed blocks if they want to stop K-State at the point of attack, and so far the front has done a great job of creating a clean second-line for our defense.
The same is true for our secondary. The days of seeing missed open field tackles have gone by the wayside, and I see a big day in the tackle column for senior Kamari Cotton-Moya. Brian Peavy and D’Andre Payne – keep doing what you’re doing. All three of those men deserve All-conference recognition this year.
Kansas State Offense
Probably one of the most boring teams to watch on Saturdays, unless you were born in the Tom Landry and Vince Lombardi days. This K-State team is not flashy, but they love to ground and pound the football.
The “Wildcat” formation was founded at this university, and we will see it from time to time, especially in crunch time and on short downs. The man getting most of the carries is sophomore Alex Barnes, who was the second-fastest in school history to get to 1000 yards (only 152 carries). He is a powerful back (at 227 pounds), but also has the speed to break one, averaging just over 5 yards per carry.
The offensive line is the staple for a Kansas State offense, and this year is no different. There is nothing sweeter for Bill Snyder (other than a Taco Bell Supreme Crunch Wrap) than a 15-play, 8-minute drive. They are second in the conference in rushing yards, and are led by All-Conference tackle Dalton Risner. In fact, all five linemen combine for 105 starts amongst them.
The Kansas State passing attack, well is about as scary as going as Bill Snyder for Halloween. They are dead last in the conference in passing offense, and only complete 56% of their throws. Led by Skylar Thompson last week, the freshman did throw for three touchdowns, but only completed 10 passes. He has started the last two games, and has been efficient, but is not as good of a runner as his predecessors.
All three of those touchdowns against Okie State went to this man – Byron Pringle, who leads the nation in yards per catch, and is a deep play threat. His counterpart Isaiah Zuber leads the team in receptions with 44, and is the epitome a possession receiver.
Verdict – ISU
This Kansas State offense does not scare me. If there is one knock on this team, it has been their inability to put up points. They are on their third quarterback (first two out with injuries), and he is still just learning the intricacies of a Bill Snyder offense. The best way to beat this team is to load up the box and stop the run, forcing KSU to play left-handed. If ISU can do that (and I know they can), then we will get that 300-pound gorilla off our back.
Kansas State preaches special teams like Donald Trump talks about “building a wall.” They are one of the best at scoring points the unconventional way, as they have the most non-offensive touchdowns in the nation since 1999, and every other program is far behind.
They have a game-breaker in D.J. Reed who ranks second nationally in both kick and punt return average. KSU’s kick coverage is just as good, as they rank in the top tier in both categories.
ISU’s kicker Garrett Owens brought home the Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week last week, and will be called on even more in this one. Same goes for Colin Downing, as he will have his work cut out for him against this vaunted Wildcat return game.
Verdict – Kansas State by a Vampire Nose
Iowa State is good at special teams, while Kansas State is great.
Winning Scale from 1 to 10
If all the Big 12 coaches were to go out for a night on the town, guzzling down drinks and bottles of crystal, who do you suppose would have to pick up the tab? With a 1 being 34-year old Lincoln Riley, and a 10 being the 78-year old Silver Fox Snyder, my best bet is the youngins are picking up the tab.
With that being said, I give ISU’s chances of winning at a solid 8.
This one will be close, and low scoring. Special teams will play a huge role, and we need to see the Colin Downing we know and trust in Manhattan. Quarterback Zeb Noland will most likely make his second start against Skylar Thompson, who is making his third.
The lines on both sides are stout, and can hold their own. Iowa State’s advantage is the talent and consistency of their receiving corps, and again, as always, in this slow and methodical game comes down to turnovers.
Third Key to Victory – Win the Turnover Battle
ISU is 10-2 when winning the turnover margin, and 0-11 when tying or losing it in the Matt Campbell era. Make smart throws Zeb, and let the defense do the rest.
Iowa State 20
Kansas State 16