2020 Game VI: #23 Iowa State (3-2, 3-1) at Kansas (0-5, 0-4)
Date: Saturday, October 31, 2020
Time: 11:00 A.M. CST
Location: David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium, Lawrence, KS
Capacity: 47,000 (but only 10k can attend, I would guess more ISU fans show up than KU)
Line: ISU -28.5
Radio: Cyclone Radio Network
SB Nation Website – Rock Chalk Talk
The Cyclones’ ample opportunity slipped right out of their hands on Saturday. It was one that would have firmly supplanted them in the drivers seat for a Big 12 Championship game. Now we will just have to do exactly what coach Matt Campbell wants us to do – go back to the drawing board and get better.
Did Iowa State play their worst game of the year? No, and they certainly gave themselves chances to succeed, but just couldn’t make that extra play or stop when the team needed it the most.
As Campbell said in the press conference afterwards, “If we (ISU) want to become our best, we got to get rid of the lulls and we had them in every phase of the game today (versus OSU). And unfortunately, those lulls caught us.” ISU had flashes of brilliance, and should have had a two-score lead early in the game, but not being able to execute in the red zone (two missed field goals) killed the momentum, and any chance for an upset victory was washed away.
When we last left off….
We can go into the nitty gritty on Brock Purdy’s past performances, but the fact of the matter is – our receivers are not creating separation. Similar to the Louisiana game, the defensive front-seven pinned their ears back, and dared Brock to find an open receiver one-on-one. The Cowboys’ secondary man-handled ISU’s receivers, as Xavier Hutchinson was the ONLY wide-out to even catch a ball.
On top of that, #15 was running for his life, and to be honest, was valiant in his performance – connecting on 19 passes with defenders in his face all day. I don’t care who you are – you get that much pressure as a quarterback, and it is hard to make good throws.
The defense played above average, and bottled up the Oklahoma State run game for much of the day. They also held Tylan Wallace in check, and did just enough to keep the game close. They even forced TWO take-aways, and won the Turnover Battle! In my weekly preview I had OSU only scoring 24 (which I was right); we just needed the Cyclone offense to string together a few more drives to come out victorious.
Unfortunately, Tom Manning’s boys couldn’t do it, and ISU falls to 3-1 in conference play.
I’m going to just give this to you straight. No sugar coating it.
Like they are far and away the worst Power-Five College Football team in 2020.
Looking at Big 12 statistics, of the 31 categories, they are Last or Second-to-Last in 24 of them. Les Miles is continuing to cash his paychecks, while showing up for a few games here and there. He missed a couple due to COVID, and to add salt in the wound – KU’s best player Pooka Williams has opted out for the season, instead spending quality time with his ailing mother.
Yeah. So, the defense is bad, the offense is worse. Kansas has lost all five games by an average score of 45-15. Adding more fuel to the embarrassing dumpster fire, since the start of 2016, Kansas has accumulated all of 191 punt return yards; while Kansas State had 189 against KU on Saturday.
Somehow, someway, KU leads this all-time series 50-43-6, with ISU winning the last 5. The Jayhawks put a scare into us all last year, as the Cyclones came back and scored 20 unanswered to win the game 41-31 in Ames.
Iowa State Offense
To all you naysayers out there calling for Hunter Dekkers – sit down and shut up. To be honest, if you really think that, you don’t know the game of football, nor do you understand the complexities of a Big 12 offense.
Has Brock Purdy played his best football in 2020? Clearly not, as all of his statistics have significantly digressed, but Iowa State has pivoted into a new identity of running the football behind the Big 12’s best running back Breece Hall. Purdy was under duress all game last Saturday, and simply had no one to throw the ball to. We are really missing Tarique Milton and his downfield explosiveness right now. If teams have the horses, they can stack the box and man-up on our receivers one-on-one, and so far in our 2 losses, that is EXACTLY what happened.
The offensive line was exposed against OSU, but I expect a big bounce back performance, and even a possibility of more backups seeing the field for the first time – ala Big Robert Hudson and Grant Treiber. They will pave the way for at least 15 Breece Hall carries, and look for Kene Nwangwu and Jirehl Brock to get some lovin’, as those two have worked their you-know-what off to play.
Speaking of Breece – I think he is the most underrated player in all of college football. He has quietly led the ENTIRE COUNTRY in rushing yards per game, and is third in rushing touchdowns. If he continues this masterful performance and does NOT get invited to New York for the Doak Walker award, I will be, well, just another Iowa State fan, pissed off at yet another disrespectful backhanded vote.
I will say this – Brock’s mechanics have always been average at best. He does throw off his back foot too much, forces some balls, and sometimes our talented receivers bail him out. But aside from Kolar and Hutchinson, who is the next man up? I’m still looking for our Robin to X’s Batman, and if receivers coach Nate Scheelhaase can’t get it out of Joe Scates or Sean Shaw, then let’s get a freshman in there that wants to show us something.
I expect a very vanilla-based offense, with more run than pass, and a lot of red-zone opportunities, mixed in with 10-plays-plus drives eating the clock half-quarters at a time.
The surprising bright spot (if you can find one) of this team has been the defense. They were only outgained by 61 yards to K-State, and so far, are in the middle of the Big 12 pack at slowing down the passing game. The Jayhawks are ranked last in just about every statistical category, as they simply can not stop any one running, passing or scoring the ball, are dead last in 3rd down conversions, sacks, and forced turnovers.
First Key to Victory – Strike Early, and Keep the Foot on the Gas Pedal
In other words: just execute the game plan, and don’t you dare take your foot off their throats.
With that being said, the defense is full of youngsters – and are led by redshirt freshman Marcus Harris, who has 5.5 tackles-for-loss in his last two games. True freshman Karon Prunty leads the Big 12 with six pass breakups.
The Jayhawk defense has stolen Jon Heacock’s scheme, and try their best running the 3-3-5 formation. To see their safeties are top-2 in tackles is probably a bad sign, as the leader in stops Kenny Logan, Jr. is also 2nd in all of the Big 12.
All three linebackers rank third, fourth and fifth on team in tackles, as they have been a little slow to the ball, and unfortunately out of position at stopping the run.
KU simply does not get sacks, as they have only 5 on the year, and they have all of 1 interception. The Jayhawks have done a good job of mixing in new talent along the way, as 32 of Les Miles’ 33 recruits in the last two classes have seen the field in 2020.
The Verdict – Iowa State
Expect another 200+ yard rushing day from the Iowa State offensive line, and a bounce-back game for Brock Purdy. I am really looking forward to seeing another receiver break out of his shell and become our number #3 target…
Iowa State Defense
Look for the defensive line to have their way with KU, similar to a pit bull with a rag-doll. I expect Kansas’s quarterback running for his life, away from the likes of Will McDonald, Jaquan Bailey and Zach Petersen (who has shown flashes as of late).
The linebackers will not have to run sideline to sideline trying to cover ground with Pooka Williams. But may have to keep an eye on big quarterback Jalon Daniels when he scrambles. I am extremely impressed by they play of Jake Hummel in the last few games, and look for O’Rien Vance to get back in the sack column.
Iowa State will most likely bring in a slew of up-and-comers, gaining playing time for our under-classmen. That means the likes of Joshua Bailey, Dae’Shawn Davis, Aric Horne (if he stops leading with his helmet), and T.J. Tampa.
Second Key to Victory – Don’t get Beat Deep
The only way KU makes this a game is if they execute the same game-plan from last year – beat us through the air. The Jayhawks torched ISU’s secondary for 328 passing yards and 3 touchdowns, as both Andrew Parchment and Stephon Robinson had big days. It will be important for our safeties to keep their head on a swivel in the back end – as KU has nothing to lose on Saturday.
Look for Greg Eisworth to continue to assert his dominance, and for Lawrence White to quietly keep playing good football. It was good to see Datrone Young in there for more plays against OSU last week, and I thought we didn’t miss a beat with him in there.
Just downright pitiful is the Kansas offensive attack. Gone is last year’s quarterback Carter Stanley, and in comes a plethora of different options. Starting the season was Miles Kendrick, who was later replaced by Jalon Daniels in the second game against Baylor. After Daniels got hurt, Kendrick came back in, and, well, the offense barely got out of neutral.
So far on the season, KU averages an abysmal 273 of total offense per game, with a 3.3 yard per rush average, and a horrible 4.8 yard per pass attempt…
Daniels is only a freshman, and has looked like it thus far. His completion percentage is only 57%, so I could see the Jayhawks playing both quarterbacks, or even a third if things get out of hand. He is a big body who can run, but his passing game has not progressed.
The most talented group on this roster is that of the wide receivers, as Andrew Parchment and Stephon Robinson combined for 1550 receiving yards in 2019 (both top-5 in Big 12). This year has been a different story, as Kwamie Lassiter II has stolen the spotlight, leading the team with 22 grabs for 229 yards. That’s not to say both Parchment and Robinson aren’t talented, they just haven’t seen the ball thus far in 2020.
The offensive line does have three senior starters, but only two have more than a year of experience. They have given up the most sacks in the conference with 24 in 5 games…
The Verdict – Iowa State by a Secretariat Margin
This one is about as even as a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest. Advantage ISU through and through.
KU’s kicker is a freshman named Jacob Borcila, who is 3-for-5 on the year, but his counterpart – punter Kyle Thompson takes the cake. The senior has stayed busy in 2020, averaging nearly 40 yards per punt, but the rest of his team has been awful at stopping the returns.
Kansas State had not only one, but TWO punt returns for touchdowns. And what made the second one worse, it was in the waning seconds before half. All you had to do was kick it out of bounds…
Iowa State’s Joe Rivera has been a bright spot on special teams, and look for Connor Assalley to gain his confidence back. I didn’t expect him to make his 48-yarder last week, but the 33-yard miss was inexcusable.
If there was ever a big day to Make Special Teams Great Again – this one is it. Look for Kene Nwangwu to make some noise.
Verdict – ISU
So you’re telling me there’s a chance!
Winning Scale from 1 to 10
On a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 a boat, and 10 water, I give ISU a falling-out-of-a-boat-into-water chance of winning this game.
Matt Campbell loves to compete, and after that mistake-free loss to Oklahoma State, he will rally the troops and put the hard hats on. Don’t expect a throttling though. I am looking for a fast start, where the starters can get out to an easy lead, and then we pull the reigns back.
Third Key to Victory – Don’t F*(% Up
Iowa State 37
Hit us up with your predictions in the comment section below!