Coming into the game, no one expected to see a well played game from either side. The general consensus was that either KU was going to get steamrolled, or both teams would fall into a sense of general dysfunction. No one was prepared for what was coming.
KU received the opening kickoff, and on the opening drive, marched down the field methodically, converting a fourth-and-short and a third-and-long before Corey Avery sprinted in from 14 yards out. After a quick three-and-out by Iowa State, Kansas started on their own 42, driving down the field in 8 plays to score again on a Jimmay Mundine 20-yard reception. After another Iowa State three-and-out, Kansas drove down on two big plays, before stalling the drive and settling for a field goal. Three straight incompletions led to yet another Iowa State three-and-out, but this time the Jayhawks were pinned deep to end the 1st quarter.
So at the end of the first quarter, Kansas led 17-0, and outgained Iowa State 183 to -8. That's right, thanks to a sack by Michael Reynolds on the first drive, Iowa State actually lost yardage in the first quarter. Talk about the perfect way to start the day.
The second quarter didn't go quite as well. The first drive of the quarter stalled out, but even though the Cyclones overcame an offensive pass interference call, they still stalled out at the 50. After they punted, Kansas drove down on a 13 play drive that featured 9 passes from Cummings and ended with a Tony Pierson run. Cummings spread the ball well in this drive, as he targeted 6 different receivers.
After another quick 3-and-out by Iowa State, Kansas seemed poised to convert another short field into points. However, they stalled at the ISU 38-yard line, and Clint Bowen faced the first tough decision of the game. Instead of punting, he elected to have Cummings throw a pass, which was broken up by the defense. Iowa State quickly turned that into some momentum as they drove down for a touchdown in just a minute and a half, aided by a couple defensive penalties. Kansas got the ball back with a minute left, but a fumbled snap led the Jayhawks to let the time run out on the half.
Even though they let Iowa State back into the game with a quick score, they still went into the half leading 24-7 and outgaining the Cyclones 343-85, a healthy advantage in both accounts. With Iowa State getting the ball first in the second half, it looked like the perfect opportunity for the Kansas D to reassert itself and take back control of the game.
Except that's not what happened. Coming out of the half, Aaron Wimberly broke off three long runs to set up a Grant Rohach to D'vario Montgomery 35-yard TD pass. It only took 1:07 for Iowa State to travel 75 yards for the score. Bad Kansas seemed to be reawakened and Jayhawk Nation (at least the ones I saw in the gamethread) started to worry.
Cummings seemed to try to put us all at ease by driving down the field, passing to 5 different receivers and setting KU up with what appeared to be a make-able 46 yard field goal, but apparently Matthew Wyman can't hit them from that deep, because Bowen decided again to go for it on 4th and 11 from the ISU 29. It obviously didn't work.
Iowa State seemed poised to turn that into some more momentum, as they drove all the way down to the KU 19. But Cole Netten missed his only field goal attempt of the day. Holding Iowa State without any sort of points from such a long drive was nice, but the score was still way too close for comfort. KU seemed to sense our anxiety, as they immediately drove the length of the field to get another touchdown, this time on a 1-yard Cummings run.
From there, the KU defense took over the game. First came a Victor Simmons strip-sack + fumble recovery that set up a short field and resulted in a 37-yard field goal. Then Iowa State drove all the way down to the KU 9, but back-to-back big plays by Victor Simmons and Dexter McDonald ended the threat. After a quick KU three and out, Iowa State again drove deep in to Kansas territory. With 2nd and Goal from the KU 6, three straight passes were broken up by JaCorey Shepherd, Isaiah Johnson and McDonald stopped the Cyclones again. At this point, KU went into full-on conservative mode, running up the gut three times and punting.
Iowa State made one last gasp to try and get something going, getting back into the red zone. But on 1st down, Rohach threw to the back of the endzone, but Shepherd was in perfect position and picked it off to end the threat.
Overall, this was a solid effort by the Jayhawks, although it's likely it was in large part due to the injury of Jevohn Miller, who will miss the rest of the season with an ACL injury sustained last week. The defense stepped up both early and late, but it seemed like they weren't sure how to act with such a large lead right around halftime.
I'd try to give out gameballs or some other sort of recognition, but I'd quickly run out if I tried, and I'm not sure I could narrow it down to 3 or 4 top performers.
Overall, today was a great day to be a Jayhawk Football fan, and I sure hope you enjoyed the hell out of it. I know I did.