Iowa State (3-1, 0-1) at Kansas (4-0, 1-0)
Date: October 1st
Time: 2:30 pm
Place: Memorial Stadium
Capacity: 47, 233
Line: Iowa State
When we last left off...
Iowa State fell to the Baylor Bears in Jack Trice Stadium and dropped a 31-24 contest.
The Bears had the advantage from the get-go, going 12 plays and 77 yards on their first drive to take an early 7-0 lead. The Bears were aided by some penalties from the officiation crew, including a bad targeting call on Beau Freyler.
Hunter Dekkers responded by leading ISU on an equally long drive that was unaided by bullshit penalties to tie the game at 7-7. The usual suspects, Jaylin Noel and Xavier Hutchinson, were the deciding factors on the scoring drive.
Baylor QB Blake Shapen would complete his transformation into Tom Brady later in the half, quickly leading Baylor to a 17-7 lead. The Cyclone defense gave up some big pass plays, and could not find a solution for Baylor in the first half.
Iowa State would make it interesting with a long touchdown drive just prior to the halftime whistle, with Brock picking up nice yards on the ground before a beautiful 24-yard touchdown pitch and catch from Dekkers to Dimitri Stanley.
The second half was a disaster.
Two Hunter Dekkers interceptions and an ineffective offense led to two Baylor scores to put the Cyclones in a 31-14 hole which they would never climb out of. While the defense did much better in the second half, it was too little too late from them and too little in general from the Cyclone offense. A late Jirhel Brock touchdown (on a fumble after the review) made it interesting, but a win just wasn’t in the cards.
Kansas is 4-0 on the season with wins over West Virginia, Houston, Duke, and Tennessee Tech. Each of those victories has come against the spread, they are one of 8 teams to be 4-0 against the spread to start the season.
Kansas leads the all-time series 50-45. Iowa State is currently on a 7-game win streak in the series.
Iowa State Offense
Last week, the Cyclone offense struggled for much of the game against the Baylor defense, which suffocated the run game and clogged the middle of the field in the passing game. Despite hitting on a 25-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Dimitri Stanley on a post route to close the first half, offensive coordinator Tom Manning decided that was enough downfield passing for the day, and didn’t attempt to take advantage of a clearly outmatched Baylor secondary until the middle of the fourth quarter when the Cyclones were down three scores and scrambling.
Hunter Dekkers has looked the part of a talented, but young QB so far, making some very impressive throws, but also making (or not making) some critical reads in the passing game, often checking down to the running back a little too quickly. That said, Dekkers has a plethora of talent around him that seems ripe for an offensive explosion if the scheme and execution can finally align.
Test them Deep
Tom Manning’s offenses have been basically allergic to throwing the deep ball for most of his tenure. However, Iowa State has the personnel to become a more vertical passing team. Xavier Hutchinson is one of the best at his position in college football, and Jaylin Noel and Dimitri Stanley are both capable of being significant downfield threats. Heck, even though he doesn’t have elite speed, Sean Shaw has the size to be able to be an overpowering physical receiver in jump ball scenarios.
Kansas’ secondary is vulnerable to the deep ball and Iowa State would be wise to test their mettle if they want some insurance in the event that Kansas’ offense is for real and can put up points against the Cyclone defense.
Kansas’ blistering hot start to the 2022 season has largely come on the backs of the offense, as the defense, even against some lackluster competition, has looked very pedestrian. Kansas currently sits at 109th in college football in defensive yards per play at 6.3. For reference, Iowa State is 7th in the country at 4.0. Defensive end Lonnie Phelps leads the team in tackles for loss while safety Kenny Logan Jr. leads the team in total tackles.
The Jayhawks run a more traditional four-down look on defense, and will trade a LB for an extra safety when needed rather than something like Iowa State’s three-down look that trades a defensive tackle for the safety.
The Verdict - Iowa State
Cyclones are justified in feeling a little down about the offense’s performance against Baylor last week. Tom Manning’s unit was never really able to find a rhythm and the offense never felt like it had an identity it wanted to establish. On top of that, Baylor’s excellent defensive line gave Iowa State a ton of problems.
This week, the opposition weakens quite a bit against Kansas. While this ain’t your father’s (or even slightly older brother’s) Kansas team, their offensive improvement has far outpaced the defense, which still struggles to stop both the run and the pass. Notably, Kansas is almost dead last in the country in opponent completion percentage, allowing QBs to complete 69.16% of their passes. That’s a really high number. That does bode well for an offense designed to live on high percentage, low air yardage completions, but Kansas also knows that Iowa State likes to do that.
I think Iowa State wins this matchup no matter what, but how much they win this by depends entirely on scheme. If Iowa State is once again content to just dink and dunk their way down the field every single possession per usual, Kansas may try to compress the field a bit to put pressure on the passing game and grab an extra turnover or two so they can give the ball to their explosive offense.
However, if the Cyclones counter by testing Kansas’ vulnerable secondary deep down the field, Iowa State may just end up being the more explosive offense on the field Saturday and turn this from a close game into a two-score win.
Iowa State Defense
The Cyclone defense allowed Baylor to win through the air. Blake Shapen averaged around 9 yards per completion last Saturday and just made big pass after big pass to keep the Baylor offense on the field and ultimately wear down the Cyclone defenders. Part of that was aided by the lack of pass rush generated by the Iowa State defensive lineman. While Iowa State did come away with two sacks on the afternoon the lack of pressure was noticeable.
What Iowa State did well and it will have to be a point of emphasis against Kansas stopped the run. The Cyclones held Baylor to 2.9 yards per carry. Which is absolutely winning football in run defense. The problem was that number sort of lies. Baylor ripped off 9 yards a carry in the 4th quarter after they spent the afternoon wearing down Iowa State. The Cyclones not only will have to find a way to stop the Kansas rushing attack but they will have to get off the field on third down. This leads me to one of the keys to the game.
Key To Victory - Get Off The Field
I don’t think Iowa State has quite built up the defensive line depth they wish they had just yet and it became pretty evident as some of the key guys wore down last Saturday. Iowa State will have to do a much better job as the season goes on and get off the field. I know in some cases the refs had some pull on that but there were plenty of other long conversions by Baylor.
Kansas quarterback Jalon Daniels may be one of the hottest names in the country right now. His electric play has helped spark the 4-0 start for Kansas. The junior leads the Jayhawks in both passing and rushing and has trusted himself into a Heisman dark horse with his play early on.
Kansas puts up 46 points per game and they do it primarily on the ground. The Jayhawks run the ball on 60% of their total plays. They average 5.9 yards per rush which is 10th best in the country and they are racking up well over 200 yards on the ground a game. As mentioned, Jalon Daniels leads the team in rushing but running backs Devin Neal and Daniel Hishaw Jr. are just as explosive this season.
The Kansas passing attack is fairly average if you look at it from a per-game basis but a per-play basis is where there is some juice. The Jayhawks average 9.3 yards per pass. So when they do go away from the run game for a bit they are taking big chunks at a time. Other than Jalon Daniels here, it is hard to pinpoint a specific receiver Iowa State fans should have their eye on. 9 different Jayhawks have caught a touchdown pass this season.
The Verdict - Even
Don’t get me wrong, this Kansas offense has been great this season. Iowa State is coming off a bad game defensively and is much better than they showed against Baylor. I think this may be one of those chess matches in the game. Whoever blinks first and makes the costly mistake will probably hold the upper hand. If Iowa State can’t get off the field like they did a week ago. This Jayhawk rushing attack may win the game over as the day goes on.
Iowa State did really well on special teams a week ago. A vast improvement from some of the things we had seen in the previous three weeks. Iowa State needs to continue to improve in this area and ultimately avoid everything they had plague them in the prior weeks.
The Verdict - Even
I don’t really envision this game coming down to special teams. I also don’t see where either team really has a leg up in this department. Now that I have jinxed it, the game will be entirely field goals.
Winning Scale from 1 to 10
Too many unknowns in this one. It’s kind of like going to Casey’s and wondering if you are going to have great customer service. Not usually an issue at Kwik Star. Anyways this is a toss-up.
Editor’s Note: I’m pretty sure Matthias has a Kwik-Star logo tattooed on one of his butt cheeks.
Kansas is riding the highs of the highs right now but there is still a little feeling of disrespect coming out of Lawrence. Iowa State is mad at their performance a week ago. All this should make a pretty compelling game on Saturday. The Jayhawks are dynamic on offense but this is going to be the best defense they have faced all season. If Iowa State can stop the run and get off the field on third down they should have no issue during this game. I think Iowa State will be able to move the ball it just going to come down to both defenses for each team. Give me the Professor in this case. Clones win but it’s close.
Iowa State - 24
Kansas - 17
Let us know your predictions in the comments below!