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Iowa State Preview

Jayhawks head to Ames before the bye week.

NCAA Football: Kansas at Iowa State Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas hits the road for a prime time affairs with the Cardinals of Iowa State.

Right?

Isn’t that their mascot?

Anyway, Kansas (1-3, 0-1) enter the contest off a 52-33 loss at Duke, while Iowa State comes in from a 31-29 loss at Baylor

PREGAME

Kansas has not defeated Iowa State since 2014, but the Jayhawks still hold the all-time edge 51-44-6.

Iowa State in 2008 was the last time KU won a road conference game.

ISU is 12-1 in its last 13 Big 12 home games.

The Cyclones have plummeted from preseason top-10 to unranked after a 2-2 start.

FIRST DOWN

Iowa State was the trendy pick to upset Oklahoma and interrupt the Sooners’ streak of six-straight Big 12 titles. However, after a dismal showing against in-state rival Iowa and then getting upset on the road last week at Baylor, ISU probably needs to win out to have a shot at the Big 12 title game. Don’t think for a second that they’re going to overlook lowly Kansas. This feels like a spot where the Cyclones will want to make a statement, as they have a bye week following this matchup.

Statistically, Iowa State dominated that Baylor game. They dominated time of possession, rushing yards and passing yards. Baylor had three times the penalty yardage, and turnovers were even at one. I haven’t watched the game, so I have no idea how ISU lost that one on the scoreboard. Baylor did have a special teams TD. Or maybe it was the hideous yellow jerseys Baylor wore, I don’t know. Regardless, I expect a furious Iowa State team to greet the Jayhawks on Saturday night.

SECOND DOWN

QB Brock Purdy has been a bit turnover prone (4/4 TD/INT ratio) but is still completing 70% of his passes as well as continuing to keep defenses honest with his running ability. Purdy is an equal opportunity passer, as four ISU WRs have 9 or more receptions and 100+ yards on the season to this point. RB Breece Hall is the main cog of the ISU offense, churning yards out at 4.9 ypc.

Once again, Kansas meets up with another team that can run the ball whenever and however they want. So far, that has been a disaster for KU, as the Jayhawks have given up 215, 307, and 279 rush yards in their last three games respectively. More importantly (as ISU learned last week) the Jayhawks have allowed 49, 45, and 52 points on the scoreboard in those three games.

THIRD DOWN

Overall this year, the offense has improved, at least when compared to last year. Through four games, the Jayhawks have ten 30+ yard plays this season. They had nine such plays in 2020 (9 games). Offensively, Kansas finally broke out against Duke last week, piling up over 500 yards of offense while averaging 7.4 yards per play. The playbook opened up, KU threw the ball downfield, and most importantly, the offensive line showed some improvement, particularly in run blocking.

However, that was last week. ISU’s defense ranks in the top-10 nationally in yards per play allowed, total defense, yards per rush, and rushing defense. None of ISU’s four opponents this year have had more than 300 yards of total offense, and only one - Baylor - has rushed for 100 yards. Even if the KU offense is getting better as the season goes on, we may not be able to see much evidence of it this week.

FOURTH DOWN

S&P+ ranks Iowa State at #15 this week, with Kansas down at #119. It gives the ‘Clones a 98% chance at victory, and predicts a 45-10 ISU win.

ESPN’s FPI Matchup Predictor is of the same mind, giving ISU a 98.1% chance at victory.

Meanwhile, Sagarin prefers the Cyclones by a slightly less favorable margin, giving ISU “just” a 94% chance to come away victorious. Sagarin has Kansas ranked #125 and Iowa State ranked #16 (out of 258)

PREDICTION

Iowa State hasn’t had the season they expected, at least, so far. While Kansas is improving - I think - the Jayhawks still have a long way to go to expect to be able to be competitive with the top half of the Big 12. And make no mistake, Iowa State was, and still probably is, expected to contend for the Big 12 championship this year.

Iowa State shouldn’t have any trouble moving the ball against the KU defense. Meanwhile, the Jayhawks will likely find it difficult to do so when they have the football. Kansas has been a first half team so far this year, so maybe KU keeps it close for a half? But it’s more likely that this one gets ugly fast. Iowa State 52, Kansas 17.

EXTRA POINT

Last week at Duke was the first time since 2009 that Kansas had a 300-yard passer, 100-yard rusher, and 100-yard receiver all in the same game.