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2018 Game XI: FARMAGEDDON - #25 Iowa State vs. Kansas State Football Preview

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Can Iowa State finally Slay the Vampire Bill Snyder?

NCAA Football: Texas Tech at Kansas State
The Snyder’s are in for a Tough Test in Ames!
Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

2018 Game X: #25 Iowa State (6-4, 5-3) vs. Kansas State (5-6, 3-5)

Date: Saturday November 24, 2018

Time: 6:00 P.M. CST

Location: MidAmerican Energy Field at Jack Trice Stadium, Ames, IA

Capacity: 61,500

Line: Iowa State -13

Television: FS1

Radio: Cyclone Radio Network

Game Notes/Release

K-State Game Notes

SB Nation Website - Bring On The Cats

I was down in Austin this past weekend, and while the Texas faithful were nice, the game was not. That’s not to say this season was a disappointment – far from it. In fact, the Cyclone Football program has exceeded expectations for the second consecutive year, and are making a name for themselves, not only regionally, but nationally.

Don’t worry Cyclone fans. This team is young and full of players yearning for more. We will bounce back, and there isn’t a coach that I will be more “Thankful” for this Thanksgiving Saturday than Matt Campbell.

Let’s just hope Mr. Campbell follows in the footsteps of his counterpart Bill Snyder, and makes Ames his permanent home for decades to come…

When we last left off….

You can harp on the coaching staff and beat a dead horse all you want, but the fact of the matter is Texas was better. Iowa State’s game plan was to match up body-for-body, man-on-man and beat them physically. When a program of that caliber has players that are bigger, faster and stronger – it’s impossible to win.

You can’t beat Texas at its own game, you have to out-scheme them, and ISU failed to do so.

It’s funny – after last year’s loss, I made a mental note that Iowa State does not match up well against Texas, and in order to beat them we will have to do it unconventionally.

Now while the score was only 24-10, it looked much worse in person. The offense failed to sustain drives, Purdy was unable to make quick reads, and we got DOMINATED up front.

The loss of defensive end Enyi Uwazurike has proven to be substantial, and ever since he came out the defensive line has failed to gain any sort of pressure on their own.

A lot to work on, but I am confident our coaching staff will right the ship.

Kansas State Tidbits

The Wildcats are riding a wave of momentum and have something to play for – bowl eligibility. They haven’t been the team of K-State past, but are still competent in the running game (on both ends).

Led by legendary 79-year old Bill Snyder, this team started the season horribly, barely escaping an FCS foe in South Dakota, and getting slaughtered by Mississippi State. Their usually reliable defense has been anything but, yet have turned it on as of late, most recently holding offensive juggernaut Taco Tech to 181 total yards and ZERO touchdowns last week.

There never has been any pizzazz about the way Snyder ball is played, as they win with defense, fundamentals, strong special teams and controlling the clock with the running game.

Snyder pulled a 180 on us in the offseason by not only signing a 4-year extension, but also hiring two new coordinators. With the Vampire’s expectation to hand the reigns over to his son Sean, it has really hurt the foundation for outside assistance. Why would an assistant want to come to Manhattan when they know there is no opportunity for change?

It has been talked about a lot in the media about a retirement, and you can read it about it here and here, but I won’t get into all that.

Lets just hope the rumors are true, because there is no one who has had Iowa State’s number more than the Vampire Bill Snyder.

The Series

This matchup has been as bad as BLIND man in a staring contest, as KSU has beaten ISU TEN STRAIGHT TIMES, and Snyder is 22-4 against the Cyclones. Since he returned in 2009, he has yet to lose to Iowa State.

This one is personal, and there isn’t a coach in the Big 12 (let alone the country) I want to beat more than Snyder.

Iowa State Offense

That let-down game finally happened for wonder-boy Brock Purdy. Under duress all game, the true freshman failed to get into a rhythm, as Texas blitzed on over 60% of the snaps, and the offensive line faltered.

First Key to Victory – Sustain Drives

The last two contests we have seen the defense on the field for far too long. They will be up against another formidable foe, and a fundamentally-sound one at that. It will be important for the offensive line to gain success early on first and second downs, and make third more manageable. I liked how we have tried to gain more yards on the outside edge in the running game, and look for David Montgomery to get back on track. After a big Thanksgiving meal, #32 has to be licking his chops to get back on the field for four full quarters!

I’m not worried about the mental toughness of Purdy, as he has the confidence (and intestinal fortitude) to lead in the huddle. Look for more gimmicky plays, as K-State is tough to beat conventionally. The running game will be a dog-fight as the Wildcats have only allowed less than 65 yards to their last three opponents.

I pity any man that thinks he can cover Hakeem Butler. #18 is having a fantastic season, and look for him to get involved early and often. Kansas State has been surprisingly inefficient in the red zone, so look for our outside threats (and tight end Charlie Kolar) in the end zone.

Another matchup to exploit is on third-down conversions. K-State is surprisingly 2nd to last in the conference in stopping third downs. If Iowa State wants to keep those drives alive (and keep the defense off the field), they will have to convert. I see a lot of tuck-and-runs for Brock Purdy, and if Campbell crosses mid-field, don’t be surprised if he keeps the offense in there on fourth down.

Kansas State Defense

What started off as a weakness has all of a sudden turned into a strength. For weeks K-State ranked near the bottom of the Big 12 in both total defense and rush defense. Now their claim to fame is stopping the run, and they do it with a solid front seven.

The Wildcats run a traditional 4-3 front, and rarely shy away from it. They are led by two stud defensive ends in Reggie Walker and Wyatt Hubert, who have combined for 12 sacks. Walker is more seasoned vet with 16 career sacks, as Hubert is only a redshirt freshman, and is 2nd nationally in sacks by a frosh.

Their linebackers are asked to do a lot of things, and have been competent. Leading tackler Da’Quan Patton is the best of the bunch with 63, while Justin Hughes has 50 stops in his last six games.

They dare teams to throw the ball, and so far there is only one team in the conference with more pass attempts. Bad IDEA.

Kansas State is number one in the Conference in passing defensive efficiency, meaning they don’t give up the long ball, and are sure tacklers.

Cornerback Duke Shelley has been banged up and is questionable to play, but the senior is their best cover guy. He had two interceptions and three passes defensed against Okie State. Free safety Eli Walker is second on the team in tackles as this unit has only given up 238 yards per game through the air.

The Verdict – EVEN

There aren’t any world-beaters on this K-State defense, but they play true team football (just like ISU’s D). The fact they are dead last in sacks bodes well for this offensive line, but it’s the running game that needs to get going.

Look for Purdy to dink-and-dunk his way down the field, and utilize the passing game horizontally. Deshaunte Jones was held without a catch last week (for the first time in 32 games), so look for him to get involved in the screen game, and Tarique Milton in soft zone spots.

Iowa State Defense

Pressure from the defensive line has been ineffective the last couple of weeks, as Iowa State has been forced to bring the blitz on passing downs. This takes away a man in coverage, and really hurt the Clones last week, as Texas went 22-for-25 on their throws.

I’m not worried as much against this K-State passing attack, it’s the running game that will be the focal point, as the Wildcats live and die on the ground.

Second Key to Victory – Contain the Running Game

If there was ever a game to bring the four-man alignment into play, its this one. Kansas State is stubborn in their offensive approach, and are content with three yards and a cloud of dust. You will see a straight-ahead scheme with a tendency for pulling guards and ALWAYS a lead-blocker. That means Iowa State will have to win in the first couple of yards.

Lucky for Cyclone fans, Ray Lima and company are one of the best in the biz at stopping it. #76 has been money at gobbling up blockers, and his counterparts Jaquan Bailey and Matt Leo need to contain their gaps on the outside.

I suspect Jon Heacock sticks with his three linebackers more often in a base set, and also less shifts as the game goes along. Mike Rose will need to stay home, reading the quarterback as a spy, and Marcel Spears, Jr. and Willie Harvey will rack it up in the tackle column.

Safety Greg Eisworth may get his career-high in tackles, as he will play up in the box all game, daring K-State to throw. Defensive back D’Andre Payne is likely out with an upper body injury, so look for Lawrence White to supplant him at safety, and Anthony Johnson, Jr. at cornerback.

Brian Peavy will continue to assert his dominance, matching up against K-State’s best threat, but I will most likely be watching for our ability in our defensive backfield to wrap up in the open field.

Kansas State Offense

Aside from the power-option teams, there aren’t many programs out there as one-dimensional as this K-State offense. I would compare them to your typical high-school offense, as they run, run, and if it still doesn’t work – run some more.

They are dreadful at passing it. In fact, the Wildcats rank dead last in the conference in passing yardage, with only 160 yards per game and an abominable EIGHT PASSING TOUCHDOWNS on the year. The offensive line is a bright spot, as they carry a collective 137 starts amongst the starters, and are led by All-American right tackle and future NFLer Dalton Risner.

The hog mollies pave the way for the conference’s third-best rushing attack, good for 202 yards over the last six weeks, and their benefactor is running back Alex Barnes. So far on the year, the junior transfer from Pittsburgh has 228 carries, and leads the conference in rushing yards per game. The 225-pound bruiser not only has the strength to finish runs, but the speed to take it to the house.

Third Key to Victory – Keep an EYE on Thompson on All Plays

Now that former Wildcat quarterback Collin Klein is coaching the QBs, he has passed down his lineage to the next Great White Hope – signal-caller Skylar Thompson. If the read isn’t there, Thompson loves to tuck the ball and run, and it will be important for our linebackers to stay sound in their approach, and wrap up at the point of attack.

Thompson is only a sophomore, and has the frame to withstand punishment. He runs a variety of read-options, lead-plays, and is most effective when plays break down. He is second on the team in rushing yards, but is very ineffective in the passing department.

In what is known as an offensively gifted conference, Thompson threw for a career-high 213 yards last week versus Tech. To say he has very few playmakers is an understatement, as there is not a receiver on this team that scares me.

They are led by Isaiah Zuber and Dalton Schoen, who have a combined 1,020 yards on the season, and are the epitome of possession receivers. There is no flash nor substance here, as the breakaway speed and elusiveness is not available.

Verdict – ISU

While the offensive line has dominates their way toward a successful rushing attack, it plays right into the strength of this Iowa State defense. K-State will get theirs, but it will more over volume, and not by big plays.

Special Teams

Bill Snyder preaches Special Teams like Donald Trump preaches how good he is at everything.

Over the years, the Wildcats have been known for their non-offensive touchdowns, yet have only had one on the year. They are dead last in kick returns, and in the middle of the pack for punt returns. Isaiah Zuber had that lone 85-yard punt return touchdown and has a solid 18-yard average, but disciple Sean Snyder has not lived up to his family name.

Tarique Milton came through with an electric punt return last week, as did Kene Nwangwu when given the chance.

K-State’s former walk-on kicker Blake Lynch is a dependable 13-for-15 on the year, but also missed a crucial extra point in a 1-point loss to TCU. Punter Devin Anctil came onto the scene halfway through they year, and is averaging what would be a league-high 44.1-yard average.

Iowa State’s Corey Dunn booted a 61-yarder last week, and Connor Assalley will most certainly be called upon for multiple kicks in this matchup.

Verdict – K-State by a VAMPIRE NOSE

Both kickers easily outweigh the odds here. Gotta give Snyderball the edge in this one.

Winning Scale from 1 to 10

As the season progressed, I felt confident that Iowa State would not have any problems getting that 300-pound wildcat off their back, but lately I’ve lost some sleep.

For this week, if you were to compare all the Big 12 coaches going out for a night on the town, guzzling bottles of crystal, who do you suppose would pick up the tab? With a 1 being 38-year old Matt Campbell, and a 10 the 79-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 at winning a solid 8.5.

Final Analysis

This game will be U-G-L-Y.

I don’t see as much of a bounce back game as folks hope to see from Iowa State. The fact that their offensive line is so ineffective has caused problems, and Purdy has been able to mask that with his superior efficiency. Kansas State is not going to make any bone-head plays, so Iowa State will need to take care of the ball and take advantage of turnovers.

This will be a defensive showdown, with few points, lots of punts, and a field-position battle. Look for Purdy to take advantage of the short- to intermediate-throws, and also for the defense to carry them along the way.

I think it’s a lot closer than people think, but ISU finally slays the Vampire.

It’s time for Snyder to let us have this one.

Final Score

Iowa State 20

Kansas State 13

Let us know your thoughts below

Poll

Will ISU FINALLY Beat K-State??

This poll is closed

  • 25%
    Clones Win Going Away
    (52 votes)
  • 28%
    It’ll be a Close One, But we will pull er out
    (58 votes)
  • 28%
    K-State does what K-State does
    (58 votes)
  • 18%
    Not if the #Big12Refs Have Anything to Say About it
    (39 votes)
207 votes total Vote Now