The Jayhawks were ohsoclose to knocking off the Cyclones on the road last season, but a gutsy fourth-down call by ISU head coach Matt Campbell late in the game turned a tight, back-and-forth affair into a 10-point ISU victory.
Kansas still owns the historical series with ISU, leading 50-43-6, but the Cyclones have won five straight and 9 of the last 10. ISU is one of two current Big 12 schools that KU leads all-time head-to-head (KSU), but it would be nice to get recent trends reversed and headed back in the right direction.
Iowa State @ Kansas
Sat, October 3, 2020, Time TBD
Lawrence, KS: World War I Veterans Memorial Stadium (47,000)
About the ISU Offense
Iowa State returns 62% of its offensive production from last season in the form of five starters, which includes JR QB Brock Purdy. Purdy has been a revelation at the QB position for the Cyclones, completing over 65% of his passes last season with a 27-9 TD-INT ratio. He added 249 yards on the ground as well with 8 more TDs. RB Breece Hall, who averaged 4.8 ypc last season returns as well. ISU does lose their top two pass catchers from last season, but TE Charlie Kolar, who had 51 receptions last year (and absolutely abused the KU defense), is back.
About the ISU Defense
Iowa State returns 73% of its defensive production from last season in the form of seven starters. Last year’s leading tackler, Marcel Spears, is gone, but ISU returns 3 of their top 5 tackles, including O’Rien Vance, who led the team with 6.5 sacks in 2019.
Per preseason S&P+ projections released back in February, Iowa State is ranked #30 out of 130 teams, good for 4th in the Big 12, well ahead of #113 Kansas.
As mentioned earlier, Kansas was right there with Iowa State last year, taking the lead twice in the second half after falling behind 21-9 early in the third quarter. However, Kansas had no answer for ISU TE Charlie Kolar, who will most likely be a matchup problem again for the Jayhawks. Kansas never got a sack on Brock Purdy, either, so KU will need to figure that out as well.
On paper, this looks like an extreme mismatch. Iowa State has depth and experience, and Kansas... well, Kansas doesn’t have those things. The Jayhawks do appear to be on the right path, but this roster rebuild is maybe halfway done; there are indeed still miles to go.
I expect Kansas to put some points up again this year, but how will the Jayhawks slow down the ISU offense? By everything we can measure or rank, ISU is the better team here; all I can ask is that KU give themselves a chance in this one. Iowa State 42, Kansas 34.