2018 Game VIII: Iowa State (4-3, 3-2) vs. Kansas (3-5, 1-4)
Date: Saturday November 3, 2018
Time: 11:00 A.M. CST
Location: David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium (they have a track around the field…)
Line: ISU -14.5
Radio: Cyclone Radio Network
SB Nation Website - Rock Chalk
Every team looks forward to a game against Kansas. They are the epitome of a slump-buster, a game against little brother, and go down as easy as a Busch Latte at a tailgate.
In years past, this game would strike me as an unknown, especially on the road. You didn’t know which team would show up, and if Iowa State would have to scratch and claw their way to victory.
Not with Campbell at the helm. He literally had the same demeanor after the Iowa loss as he did after the big West Virginia win. It’s one week at a time, next game up, next man up. Nothing fazes him, and that is why he is one of the Big 12’s best coaches.
When we last left off….
Iowa State played out of sorts on Saturday. They looked sluggish to start, made critical mental errors on special teams and the offense failed to sustain drives.
But we still beat a team knocking on the door of the top-25.
While the Cyclones came home victorious against a hard-nosed Texas Tech squad, there is still a lot to work on. David Montgomery ran the ball 33 times, and if not for a late 25-yard scamper, would have only averaged right at 3 yards per carry. Brock Purdy was less than 50% on his passes, yet at least five of those were drops.
Yet, we still won.
This defense can keep the Cyclones in any game, and they proved that by forcing a game-winning safety and a true freshman into THREE interceptions.
Sitting in the stands it was a huge sigh of relief, as for the past decade, 90% of the time Iowa State loses those type of games.
But not this team. Resiliency and an ability to stare adversity in the face has allowed this program to take the next step and beat anybody on any given Saturday, even when you don’t play your best.
Typically the laughing stock of the Big 12, KU has surprisingly won THREE games in 2018. They won last week versus TCU at home, and did it unconventionally. TCU averaged 7 yards per play, and held Kansas to only 4.5. In the past 15 years, teams were 106-0 when doing so. Now that record is 106-1.
Now, while TCU has been devastated with injuries and was trying out a new QB, they beat themselves, turning the ball over twice in the red zone, and pissed this one down their leg.
The only other wins for KU are against Rutgers and Central Michigan, so not exactly world-beaters. But they have been able to keep games closer than usual against Big 12 competition, only losing by an average margin of 22 points, compared to probably 40+ in years past. (Trust the Process)
They are still led by fourth-year coach David Beatty, but his taste has soured. So much so, that our friends over at Rock Chalk Talk have been running a weekly column tracking potential candidates for a new head coach. Since Week 1….
Whaddya know – KU leads the all-time series 50-41-6, yet ISU has won the last three. Two years ago Iowa State struggled in Lawrence, but David Montgomery wouldn’t let them lose – running for a then career-high 169 yards.
Iowa State Offense
This bus now has one driver, and the man calling the shots is true freshman Brock Purdy. His backup Zeb Noland left the team, and while I wish him well I hope this does not start a trend for student-athletes to part ways with their teams midway through the season.
Now that Purdy has the keys he is going to need to learn to protect himself, especially in the open field. Texas Tech was called for THREE personal foul hits against the young QB, and if he wants to stay healthy, the stud from Arizona needs to learn how to SLIDE.
First Key to Victory – Take Care of The Ball
Kansas is pretty much dreadful at every defensive category other than forcing turnovers. Their defensive backs are uber aggressive when the ball is in the air, and it will be important for Purdy to take his shots downfield carefully. I know, when you have a FREAK like 6-foot-6 Hakeem Butler – logic says just throw it up to him and let him make a play. Purdy just needs to go through his progressions if he sees receivers in double coverage.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out the Cyclones did NOT spread the ball around last week. In fact, only four receivers caught passes, and if
Coordinator Coach Campbell wants to open up this offense, he needs to find creative ways to get his playmakers the ball. Look for the DM Train to get involved in the passing game, and a heavy dose of the two-tight end set, as I expect Campbell will RUN THE BALL DOWN THEIR THROATS!
The offensive line took a step back, but you have to give credit to Tech’s front. Kansas’s defensive line does not get pressure (2nd to last in Big 12 in sacks), but the boys up front need to get back on track.
I was impressed by the play of Tarique Milton last week, as he has stepped up as viable option #2. Look for more players to get involved – ala Deshaunte Jones and Landen Akers.
Coach David Beatty has gone the JUCO route, as there are NINE student-athletes on the defensive depth chart hailing from junior colleges. It is hard for anyone to attract talent to Lawrence, yet KU did get a 4-star recruit at cornerback in Corione Harris. He has lived up to the hype, starting at cornerback. That allowed Hasan Defense to move from corner to safety, as he has three interceptions on the year. KU picked off Will Grier three times, and have accounted for the most forced turnovers in the COUNTRY.
Their do-it-all, play-every-down, heart of this defense is none other than 1st Team All-Big 12 linebacker Joe Dineen. The three-year starter leads the Big 12 in tackles and led it in Tackles-for-Loss a year ago. The Jayhawks play a nickel scheme, and carry six starting seniors.
They are at the bottom in nearly every category, most notably pass defense – giving up 267 yards per game through the air and an absurd 8.2 yards per attempt. This is truly a feast or famine D – they are aggressive at picking off passes, but get beat just as much on deep throws.
The Verdict – ISU
I project a game plan very similar to that of the Akron and Texas Tech variety – establish the run, play field position, and let your defense do the work for you. That means a heavy dose of the DM Train, mixed in with Kene Nwangwu and Sheldon Croney. Look for the tight ends to get involved, and of course – Hakeem Butler in one-on-one situations.
Iowa State Defense
This defense will EAT on Saturday. I foresee a LOT of reserves getting playing time in this one. Look for Jon Heacock to run through linebackers like an assembly line, and we may see a few more rush ends to vacate the spot left by Enyi Uwazurike’s injury. Matt Leo will be the one to replace #50 in the starting lineup, and the Aussie from down under has impressed when given his opportunities. I could also see more of Will McDonald at end and Isaiah Lee/Tucker Robertson at tackle. Either way I project another big day in the sack column for our defensive line.
Second Key to Victory – Contain POOKA
What a name. Pooka Williams is another 4-star recruit who has turned heads in his first year at KU. He averages an off-the-charts 6.6 yards per carry, yet was held in check last week to the tune of 3 YPC vs TCU. Iowa State has had no problems bottling up the run game, as they are tops in the Big 12 and 10th nationally in rush defense. They always say – good defensive lines travel well for road games.
Look for a wide array of blitzes, as KU’s quarterback is not a great scrambler, and has been very inefficient in the accuracy department. It was nice to see Marcel Spears come out for the party last week, as THIS GUY said he would.
Not only will Spears and Harvey rack up the tackles, but I have noticed how efficient Mike Rose has been rushing the quarterback. Look for that to continue.
The secondary continues to impress, and will do what they always do – put on the hard hats and come to work. The move of D’Andre Payne over to nickelback suits his skill-set better, as Iowa State has two competent corners to replace him. DeMonte Ruth finally got out of the dog house, and is one of those that played good lock-down defense on the outside.
This offense rides on the back of 170-pound true freshman running back Pooka Williams. The three-time Big 12 newcomer of the week has galloped his way to 653 yards on the ground, and another 217 through the air. In fact, he leads the conference in all-purpose yards per game. He has blazing speed, evident by this catch and run.
The Jayhawks have never found a viable option at quarterback since the Todd Reesing days over a decade ago. Peyton Bender seems to have been there as long as Perry Ellis, and still has not improved one iota. His completion percentage is God awful at 57%, and he only averages 164 yards per game. Woof
The offensive line is full of transfers, and has been so-so on the year. While they have opened up holes to the tune of a 4.1 per-carry average, they give up an astounding 3 sacks per game. Not good
The receivers are led by senior Steven Sims, who has regressed in his time at KU. The four-year starter is already top-3 in major school receiving categories, but is yet to take off in his swan-song year. He leads all pass-catchers with 289 yards and three touchdowns, while Kerr Johnson is second with 238. Pitiful
Verdict – ISU by a Big ole Count Dracula NOSE!
The Cyclones have only allowed three touchdowns in their last two games – and that was against 2 of the top-3 scoring units in the Big 12. Uh oh, this one might get ugly real fast. The only player that scares me is their running back, and the Cyclones have shut down every opponent in that category. Huge win in this matchup for the Clones.
The Jayhawks kicker Gabriel Rui is an ugly 5-of-10 on field goals this year, even missing a 28-yarder. Punter Kyle Thompson has kept busy, already booming 37 kicks for an impress 44-yard average, which is tops in the league.
If there is one thing to harp on this team – it has been the special teams play. Two blocked kicks in successive weeks, missed field goals and shanked punts are not the norm. I’m positive Campbell has made this a priority and special teams coach Joe Houston has been putting in the extra hours to fix those problems.
Look for Connor Assalley to get back on track, as we are going to need his confidence moving forward. Punter Corey Dunn needs to relax, as he has been phased too many times in the mental department.
This might be the week we see a Kene Nwangwu return for a TD. He should have had one last week (all he had to do was cut it back, and it was all green!!!)
Verdict – EVEN
I sit firmly in the Prove Me Wrong camp coach. This will be one unit I look for improvements on Saturday.
Winning Scale from 1 to 10
You know how they say – when you fall out of a boat you hit water?
Well, needless to say, Iowa State’s chances of winning this game are exactly that.
On paper, one would think KU has momentum - they won last week against a TCU squad coached by Gary Patterson, and have turned the corner in some respects. Well, I’m here to piss all over that paper.
Teams that are inferior on offense and make mental mistakes (like Kansas) are what Matt Campbell’s programs thrive against. This game might not be the most pretty, but that is just how coach wants it to be. He will ground and pound, and the defense will pick up all the dirty work.
Give me the Clones with an easy victory.
Oh, I forgot one last Key to Victory – Don’t F*&^ Up
Iowa State 31
Let us know your thoughts below
What are ISU’s chances of Winning against KU on Saturday?
This poll is closed
Does a Bear Sh*t in the Woods?
Campbell takes no prisoners, the Clones Pound them
Ugly game, but ISU wins handily
Upset?? DON’T YOU DARE!