2019 Game XI: #23 Iowa State (6-4, 4-3) vs. Kansas University (3-7, 1-6)
Date: Saturday, November 23rd, 2019
Time: 11:00 A.M. CST
Location: MidAmerican Energy Field and Jack Trice Stadium, Ames, IA
Line: ISU -24.5
Radio: Cyclone Radio Network
SB Nation Website –”Rock Chalk Talk”
Iowa State won their “Statement” Game of the Year, and can still secure an 8-win season. While last week’s performance showed a lot of ups and downs, it was fitting to see the one thing they have struggled with all year (special teams) win the game. Connor Assalley knocked the game-winning kick right through the sticks (Ass Alley), and while we as Cyclone fans have seen too many close games go the wrong way, it felt good to see the good guys come out on top.
You would have to go all the way back to 1983 when ISU won a game in true walk-off fashion. While ISU dominated the game statistically, there were still many opportunities missed. Matt Campbell’s crew has been resilient all year, and he has now beaten every single team in the Big 12 in Campbell’s young career.
When we last left off….
Give Texas credit. You knew they would make a comeback at some point, and while everyone could see ISU was the better team, it was situational plays where they faltered.
After a 2nd-and-35 was later converted by UT, the Longhorns grabbed their first lead on a 4th-and-goal play late in the game. ISU failed on their own 4th down conversions (two of them, even one a fake field goal), and honestly should have put this team away earlier.
I thought the defense played one of its best games, forcing EIGHT three-and-outs, and none more important than the last one to give the offense one last shot. And boy did Connor Assalley come through!
Now on to KU.
Talk about a roller-coaster of a season for this Jayhawk team. After losing to Coastal Carolina (and putting up 7 points), the Jayhawks stormed into Boston College and win on the road, scoring 48. Then after losing three in a row, they play a whale of game in Austin, TX, and lose on a last-second FG 48-50.
Since then, KU has dropped two more, and beaten Texas Tech in a thrilling come-from-behind victory. They were picked last in the Big 12 (as always), but have a different aura – as Les Miles is the man for the job, and brings with him some credibility.
The 35-year veteran has a big hill to climb in Lawrence, and is even allowing ESPN to cover the program in a behind-the-scenes series called “Miles to Go.” The Jayhawk football legacy has been one where coaches go to die, as their roster is well below-average and facilities are garbage.
One good thing Miles did is hire a new offensive coordinator midway through the season. After firing his buddy Les Koenning (old school ground and pound didn’t work), Miles did a complete 180 and hired a 30-something wiz who had never even been an assistant before. Brent Dearmon took over prior to the Texas game, and has finally opened up the playbook, taking to downfield passes and focusing on the running game. This guy is talented – as he has even written his own book called The Evolution of the RPO.
Somehow, Kansas still leads this all-time series, at 50-42-6, but the Cyclone have won the last 4.
Iowa State Offense
The offensive line played one of their most complete and consistent games a week ago, and are hitting their stride at a great time. Look for them to continue their success against this pitiful KU defense and lead the way for a big day on the ground for one of the best freshmen running backs in the country.
First Key to Victory – Win the Game on the Ground
Breece Hall is getting notoriety from not just local media, but nationally, as the true freshman should be looked at for all-conference honors by the end of the year. In conference play, he is 2nd behind OSU’s Hubbard with 100 rushing yards per game, and ranks fifth in the country amongst “Power 5” running backs in yards per game in his last 5 contests.
Winning the battle up front opens up all sorts of options for this offense, but what it also does is allow the Cyclones to control the tempo. Matt Campbell is old-school, and he would love it if Iowa State could run for 200+ every game. Hall has been special with his vision, and ability to be patient and hit the hole at the right time. Johnnie Lang deserves some snaps to spell #28, and look for the three-tight end set all damn day.
ISU has an enormous matchup advantage when they utilize Chase Allen, Dylan Soehner and Charlie Kolar on the field. We have seen them play out wide, in the slot, and doing their best dirty work as second- and third-level blockers. Better yet all three have enough wiggle to slip free on the play-action pass.
Charlie Kolar continues to pad the stats, and has scored in FOUR consecutive games. La’Michael Pettway has recently become Purdy’s favorite target, as he has 29 grabs in the last 5 games. In fact, ISU now has four different receivers top the 500-yard plateau, marking the first time in school history.
I think our receivers get multiple opportunities, as this KU defense struggles to tackle in space, and don’t have the horses. Look for Tarique Milton to get his patented long TD, and for up-and-comer Sean Shaw to see shots in the red zone.
There aren’t many defenses worse than KU’s in the whole country. In fact, they rank 123rd out of 130 FBS schools in total defense, and are last or second-to-last in 7 different categories in the Big 12. Wooftah.
Les Miles’s defensive coordinator has had a cup of coffee at some high-ranking programs, namely Florida State, as D.J. Eliot is known for his expertise in the 3-4 alignment.
Thus far it has been less than stellar, as the defense doesn’t force turnovers, allows a league-worst 233 rushing yards per game, and give up 33 points per game. The only bright spot would have to be the secondary, as cornerback Hasan Defense has six interceptions in his career, and safety Mike Lee has forced seven fumbles. Both are part of a senior class that includes SEVEN starters on the defensive side of the ball.
Last week, the Jayhawks recorded 8 tackles-for-loss, and were led by sophomore linebacker Jay Dineen with 2.5. That name may sound familiar to some folks, as his older brother Joe was a standout tackler who just graduated a year ago.
Leading this sad sack of a defense in tackles is Bryce Torneden, who plays the “HAWK” role, a safety/linebacker hybrid spot.
The Verdict – ISU by a Margin Bigger than Les Miles’s Ego
I’m not sure what else to say. Brock Purdy should have another big day, throwing for over 300 yards, and look for the running game to cover at least 200+.
Iowa State Defense
I’ve been uber-impressed with the play of our youngsters – especially defensive end Zach Petersen and cornerback Tayvonn Kyle. Both have shown they belong in the Big 12, and provide tremendous depth for a team that can withstand injuries.
The concept of our defensive scheme the previous weeks has been impressive – slanting the front and bringing another linebacker around to force quarterbacks to choose one side of the field. What that does is cut the vision and field in half, and was a tremendous game plan against both Sam Ehlinger and Jalen Hurts.
Second Key to Victory – Don’t get Beat over the Top
No team has dared to try and beat this defense down the field (except OU). ISU’s scheme forces throws in front of them, and the blanket coverage over the top usually holds its own. There are vulnerabilities though, especially on the outside corners, and this KU team can exploit them. Kansas simply has nothing to lose, and they have two strong outside receivers who can break one in an instant.
It will be important for the Cyclones to play back in coverage, but also be cognizant of where Pooka Williams is at all times. I don’t worry too much about their quarterback out in space, but he can run if he has to. We will need our linebackers and safeties to communicate effectively on play-action passes, and to always have an eye on #1 out of the backfield.
This KU front gives up nearly 2 sacks per game, and look for ISU to bring pressure (but only on passing downs). I would love to see some more depth on the field, getting playing time for Will McDonald (whose light has burned bright lately), as well as Tucker Robertson, Arnold Azunna and D.J. Miller. These are the up and comers for this program, and it will be huge if they can see quality action on Saturday.
Safety Lawrence White has played some of his best football as of late, and defensive tackle Jamahl Johnson has been an absolute force, creating vertical penetration at his spot.
The heralded run-pass option from OC Dearmon only works if he can get the run game going. Last week versus Oklahoma State, the Jayhawks failed miserably, only averaging 1.6 yards per rush, and a total of 39 yards from scrimmage. I don’t expect that to continue, as Pooka Williams is just too good of a runner. The sophomore is slippery as all get out, and leads the team with 791 yards. He is now the lone feature back, after Khalil Herbert left the team for unspecified reasons in October.
The offensive line carries with it a left tackle in Hakeem Adeniji who has 46 career consecutive starts. The 6-foot-5 senior protects Carter Stanley’s backside, and so far has done an admirable job. KU runs a shotgun spread offense, sometimes bringing in a tight end for run support.
But most of all they love to spread out the field with 4-wide and throw it deep.
The Jayhawks best receiving threat is speedster Andrew Parchment. The Iowa Central Community College transfer has had some big games, with four different 100-yard performances, and leads the team with 52 grabs and 702 yards. His counterpart Stephon Robinson is another burner, as he had 186 yards versus Texas Tech and 2 scores. Both have tremendous ability to break tackles in the open field, and look for them to get the ball any which way.
KU does throw some trickeration out there every once in a while, and they are coming into Saturday’s game with a shot still at a bowl game. Don’t be surprised if we see some crazy calls. Quarterback Stanley Carter is in his fourth year, as he has started a variety of games in his career, and is in the top-10 in multiple passing categories for KU. He has had a career year thus far, throwing for 21 touchdowns and averages 224 yards per game. He isn’t afraid to make any throw, as that has burned him for 8 picks.
Backup Manny Miles came in the second quarter last week to liven the offense, yet only completed 4 passes and threw another interception. Definitely a work in progress for this side of the ball, but also some potential as we have seen this offense produce from time to time.
The Verdict – ISU
The Cyclones should be able to bottle up Pooka, but don’t be surprised if KU makes some deep completions for big gains. Their offensive coordinator is clever in his game plan, and I could see some points on the board (especially in garbage time).
We knew there would be a game where a field goal would make the difference, and boy did it ever last week. After Brayden Narveson nailed a 48-yarder, he came in for the game-winning 42-yarder only to see Texas jump offsides.
Thank goodness, as the freshman went “Wide Right Natty Lite,” and in came Connor Assalley to save the day. It is clear that moving forward ISU will implore both kickers based upon distance, and I couldn’t be more than happier for Ass-Alley!
KU’s kickers have struggled (surprise there), and are an abysmal 8-of-15 on the year. They do have one of the Big 12’s best in punter Kyle Thompson, as he has gotten plenty of work this year. The Preseason All-Big 12 junior average 44 yards per boot, but has been burned by the rest of his buddies, as the Jayhawks give up the most return yards by far! 250 yards is 158 yards more than the next worst in the Conference.
Verdict – EVEN
Can’t give the Nod to our good boys in Ames quite yet.
Winning Scale from 1 to 10
Lets put the hard hat on and go to work this week. Kansas can be a little sneaky, but if Campbell and company can do the little things, then ISU fans will sleep well.
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.
Some could call this a trap game, especially after an emotional win last week. It will be important for the Cyclones to start strong and limit their mistakes. I expect Tom Manning and the offense to start off with a bang, and ease up as the game progresses.
Look for a lot of bodies on the field, as this is a perfect time for the staff to scout our underclassmen in game situations, and will be a great send-off for our 20 seniors on the squad. I expect the defense to hold their own and for Purdy to have another business-like performance.
Third Key to Victory – Don’t F&#* Up
Iowa State 45
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