With football now just nine Saturdays away, it’s time to take a look at the 9th opponent on the schedule for 2018, and that is the surprising Iowa State Cyclones.
Iowa State @ Kansas
Nov 3, 2018, Time TBD
Lawrence, KS: Memorial Stadium
About the Iowa State Offense
Iowa State returns just 54% of its offensive production from 2017 with six returning starters. However, those numbers are misleading because they do not factor senior QB Kyle Kempt (161-243, 1787 yds, 15-3 TD/INT) being granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA. Kempt took over in the fifth game last year, leading the stunning upset at Oklahoma. Joining Kempt in the backfield will be junior RB David Montgomery (258 car, 1146 yds, 11 TD), who picked up yards last year at a 4.7 ypc clip.
The unknowns on offense come at the WR position. In 2017, four ISU WRs had 30+ receptions. Only one of those returns, junior Hakeem Butler (41 rec, 697 yds, 7 TD). Obviously, this means that go-to big play guy Allen Lazard (71 rec, 941 yds, 10 TD) is gone and the Cyclones will have to find someone to catch passes from Kyle Kempt. If the offensive line can stay solid (and it should), the run game should be able to take pressure off of the receivers and open things up for ISU’s offense.
About the Iowa State Defense
As for the defense, ISU returns 58% of its’ defensive production with six starters. Defense was ISU’s strength last year, as the Cyclones boasted one of the best rush defenses in the NCAA, with opponents averaging just 3.6 ypc. Last year’s leading tackler Joel Lanning (114 tak, 11 TFL, 6 sk) is gone, but LB Marcel Spears (107 tak, 8.5 TFL, 1 sk), DB Brian Peavy (88 tak, 6 TFL), and LB Willie Harvey (76 tak, 12 TFL, 4.5 sk) all return.
Along the line, ISU will be looking for some players to step up alongside junior DE JaQuan Bailey (33 tak, 10.5 TFL, 6.5 sk). One possibility is junior DT Ray Lima (25 tak, 4.5 TFL) who saw some action in 2017.
Last year in Ames, ISU held KU to 106 yards of total offense; the Jayhawks didn’t cross midfield until halfway through the fourth quarter. Kansas hasn’t beaten the Cyclones since
Clint Bowen led them to victory in 2014, and ISU has won 7 of the last 8 matchups.
Matt Campbell will be entering his third year and already has things rolling at Iowa State. The ‘Clones beat two top-5 teams last year, including one in Norman, OK. Recruiting is up and things are looking good in Ames.
Kansas wasn’t able to hang with Iowa State at all last year, but seems to play the Cyclones better when in Lawrence. I could see this being one of those close but not quite games, where the score isn’t a blowout but the Jayhawks never really threaten to win. Iowa State 38, Kansas 27