2021 Game VI: Iowa State (3-2, 1-1) vs. Kansas State (3-2, 0-2)
Date: Saturday, October 16th, 2021
Time: 6:30PM CST
Location: Bill Snyder Family Stadium
Line: ISU (-6.5)
Radio: Cyclone Radio Network
SB Nation Website - Bring On The Cats
When we last left off....
Brock Purdy threw four touchdown passes in the first quarter as Iowa State obliterated Kansas 59-7. Iowa State’s 28 points in the first quarter are the most points the Cyclones have ever scored in the opening frame. Purdy finished the game 17-of-22 passing for 245 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions.
The highlight of the four touchdown passes was the toe drag by Charlie Kolar, his second touchdown reception on the season.
Breece Hall added 123 rushing yards and two touchdowns, extending his nation-leading streak to 17 games. Hall also passed Troy Davis for Iowa State’s all-time leader in rushing touchdowns, currently sitting at 38 for his career.
Iowa State had most of their starters pulled late in the third quarter. That’s when Hunter Dekkers and Deon Silas provided the remaining fans with some highlights in the rain. Dekkers took off for a 41 yard touchdown run and Silas added a 16 yard touchdown run of his own.
Kansas State Tidbits
Kansas State has started the Big 12 slate 0-2, with losses to Oklahoma State and Oklahoma. The Wildcats won all their non-conference games before the Big 12 schedule with wins over Stanford, Nevada, and Southern Illinois.
Quarterback Skylar Thompson returned against the Oklahoma after missing the previous two games due to injury, and he put together one of the best passing performances of his career by setting highs in completions, attempts, and tying his high for touchdown passes.
Iowa State leads the all time series 51-49-2. The Cyclones won last seasons matchup in Ames, 45-0. Kansas State has won the last six in Manhattan.
Iowa State Offense
Iowa State’s offense busted wide open against Kansas and dropped 59 points on the Jayhawks. It was the smoothest the offense has operated all season with minimal mistakes over the course of the game. Iowa State tallied 564 yards of offense paired with 8 total touchdowns. There is still some room for some drastic improvement on this Iowa State offense and it starts up front on Saturday.
First Key To Victory - Win The Line of Scrimmage
Iowa State’s offensive line has not played to the level that they did a season ago. The Cyclone big men have struggled this season at controlling the line of scrimmage and continue to be ranked in the middle of the road in the Big 12 at each position. They haven’t generated enough push up front and have continually been beat with lower leverage from opposing defenses. What has given Iowa State fits in the past against Kansas State is lower leverage, which Iowa State will need to find their footing up front and battle to win at the line of scrimmage.
Thankfully, Iowa State has been able to run the ball relatively well over the last few weeks, considering some of the struggles up front. Breece Hall is averaging over seven yards per carry since starting Big 12 play. Which is more on par from a season ago. If this Iowa State offense wants to find the consistency from 2020, that number will have to maintain as the season progresses.
Kansas State Defense
Kansas State is the latest team to copy Iowa State’s 3-3-5 look on defense, as well as the strategy to frequently use a deep defensive rotation. The switch was in effort to help eliminate big plays that plagued the Wildcat defense all of 2020. Through the first five games, Kansas State has allowed just 17 plays of 20 or more yards, which includes just one rush, which is the Wildcats’ fewest 20-plus yard plays allowed through five games since the 2017 season.
The Kanas State defense has allowed just 432 total yards rushing on 160 carries, as the Wildcats are ranked seventh nationally in both rushing yards allowed per game and yards allowed per rush at 2.7 yards per rush. They also have a few studs defensively leading that charge.
Linebackers Cody Fletcher and Daniel Green lead the team in tackles, and each have three tackles for loss on the season. Defensive end Felix Anudike-Uzomah leads the Big 12 and ranks eighth nationally with five sacks. Anudike-Uzomah will provide a big test for the Iowa State offensive line that hasn’t quite played to the level they did in 2020.
I expect this Kansas State defense to try and eliminate Breece Hall and the Cyclone rushing attack and pin the game on the arm of Brock Purdy, much like they did in 2019. Purdy threw for 185 yards in that game and Iowa State struggled offensively on a cold and blustery day in Manhattan.
The Verdict - Iowa State
We still don’t really know what this Iowa State offense is truly going to be in 2021. They have beat up on some bad teams, and have been up-and-down at best against UNI, Iowa, and Baylor. While I do think Iowa State has the edge here with talent and experience, Kansas State has the defensive front that can make life miserable on an Iowa State offensive line that hasn’t quite found their footing yet. This will have to be the best performance of the year for the Cyclone big men.
Iowa State Defense
Iowa State’s defense continues to be one of the best in the country. While the yardage allowed has gone up slightly since the start of Big 12 play. Their ability to keep teams from scoring points in critical situations remains in tact. Opponents still only gain around 3.8 yards per play, 2.8 per rush and 6.1 per passing play, all of which are top 25 in the country. This defense will be the main focal point of this team going forward.
Second Key To Victory - Eliminate The Run
Broken record, meet game preview. This is probably the third game preview that has included this key to victory, and each time this Cyclone defense has rose to the challenge. This week will be no different. This Kansas State team is not a prolific passing team and they want to wear you down running the ball, much like Iowa State wants to do. In 2019, Kansas State ran it straight at the heart of the Cyclone defense and dominated the line of scrimmage all night long. The Wildcats ran for 231 yards that night while only throwing for 57 yards.
Defensive game plans are going to be much of the same for both defenses. Iowa State will play well against the Kansas State rushing attack and look to pin the game on Skylar Thompson. While we really don’t know how truly healthy he is, it is safe to assume he is in better shape than he was against Oklahoma. This is a a quarterback that has won some slobber knockers in his time at Kansas State, and this game will be another one of those games. It’s up to the Cyclone defense to make him uncomfortable.
Kansas State Offense
This is another typical Kansas State offense that we will see on Saturday. They’re decidedly un-flashy, and are content to bore you to death and execute until you look up in the third quarter and notice they have a few touchdowns on the board. What is also a bonus for Kansas State in this game is Skylar Thompson returning from injury against Oklahoma. He got an extra week to get healthier, but there are still some lingering questions about how involved he will be in the running game.
The Wildcats are a run-first team with 55% of their plays coming on the ground and 45% of their plays through the air. Their leading rusher is the elusive Deuce Vaughn, who totaled only forty-four yards on the ground last season against Iowa State. Vaughn has had a good, but slightly “down” year so far with 444 yards on the ground with five scores. Skylar Thompson has thrown for 560 yards and three touchdowns after missing the Nevada and Oklahoma State games due to injury.
The Verdict - Iowa State
Iowa State’s defense has been stellar all season long and they match up well with what Kansas State wants to do. Skylar Thompson wins games, but he doesn’t wow you with off-the-charts quarterbacking skills. Iowa State will handle the run well and look to adjust to what Kansas State throws at them elsewhere. Until we see a team take it to this Cyclone defense, you have to like the Cyclones’ chances on that side of the ball.
It wouldn’t be a trip to Manhattan without instantly worrying about special teams. Oh look what do you know, Kansas State has a stud return man. Coincidentally, Iowa State has a major weakness when kicks don’t go for touchbacks.
Kansas State receiver Malik Knowles has returned a kickoff for a touchdown in each of the last two games, and he leads the nation with a 39.3-yard return average. That sounds fun and like something I would pay a ton of money to not see happen.
Third Key To Victory - Don’t Mess Up Special Teams
Iowa State has lost a Farmageddon matchup due to special teams blunders before. Kansas State has that threat once again. Iowa State can’t afford to have another Baylor issue on Saturday. A ton of factors are in play, but if Iowa State can keep the ball out of Malik Knowles hands, they will be all the better for it.
The Verdict- Kansas State
Kansas State has the edge here due to Malik Knowles and Iowa State’s continued struggles. If Iowa State can at least be competent on special teams and avoid the big mistake, this would be a toss up. I am fully ready with my nut cup and expect something terrible to go down on a kick. Be prepared.
Winning Scale from 1 to 10
This is a battle of who farms the best. Kansas seems to think they have something down there, but they just don’t stack up to those who do it best. Which is Iowa.
On a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being farming in Kansas and 10 being farming in Iowa. I give the Cyclones an Illinois level of farming chance of winning this one.
Wheat just sucks. Sorry, bread.
Lots of people have mentioned last year’s drubbing in Ames as evidence for what might happen this season, but that’s fool’s gold. K-State was a shell of itself by the end of last season due to injuries and COVID, while Iowa State famously did better than virtually everyone in dealing with the extra adversity.
This game is going to be close and both teams need it to stay in the Big 12 race. I am expecting a fist fight until the end. Buckle up.
Iowa State - 28
Kansas State - 21
Let us know your predictions in the comments below!