In what seems to be an annual tradition now, the two disaster programs in the Big 12 meet to try to avoid the infamous title of "Biggest Dumpster Fire in the Big 12" The winner of this game should be able to avoid that distinction this year. To prepare for the epic battle, I reached out to Kevin Fitzpatrick (aka KFitzy87), managing editor over at Wide Right & Natty Lite, the SB Nation site covering the Iowa State Cyclones. He was kind enough to answer a few questions for us.
RCT: So two years ago we had CleatGate, and last year Iowa State was racked by injuries right before giving Kansas their only conference win. What bizarre thing is going to happen this year just before the game that the losing team can use to blame the loss on?
WRNL: There will probably be some big drug bust with half of either team getting suspended... If it's ISU, the backups will play valiantly, but Kansas will win on a safety in overtime after ISU racks up 60 yards of false start penalties on their first possession in the extra period.
Jayhawk fans would then immediately drive to Ames and tear down the goalposts in Jack Trice Stadium. The next day, it's announced that Iowa State's football program has been dropped. #IowaStated
RCT: Saturday's game sets up a matchup of Mark Mangino against multiple members of his former Jayhawk staff. Is there any indication that this will give ISU some sort of "decided schematic advantage"?
WRNL: I don't think so. No matter which coordinator has been calling the shots during the Rhoads era, the problem has been execution. You can have a perfect scheme, but it doesn't mean jack shit if the offensive line can't block, the running backs can't hit holes, the quarterback can't make accurate throws and the receivers can't get open.
All of the above has contributed to ISU losing games at one point or another, and that's not even mentioning penalties (Iowa State had 14 for 113 yards against Toledo a couple weeks ago). Mangino will certainly be able to have an idea of how to attack Kansas, but that doesn't mean the Cyclones will be able to pull it off on the field.
RCT: Obviously Ke'aun Kinner is going to get his tomorrow, as he has pretty much been the only consistent threat in 3 games this year. But even the best players can't do it alone. What other offensive players do you expect to step up for the Jayhawks, and who on the Cyclone defense is going to go wild this week?
WRNL: I expect Montell Cozart to be the next biggest threat for KU. The ISU defense let C.J. freaking Beathard run all over them when the Hawkeyes came to town in week 2, and he's not even known for his wheels. Seeing as Cozart is the second leading rusher for the Jayhawks, it wouldn't be surprising to see him do some damage via scrambling, regardless of whether he's having a good game passing the ball.
I haven't watched enough Kansas football to know if you guys have a decent offensive line, but the guys on Iowa State's D-line have played at a higher level than we're used to seeing so far this year - more specifically, defensive tackle Demond Tucker. Tucker was the JUCO defensive player of the year last year, and he's done a great job of plugging holes for the Cyclones up front. His contributions have allowed defensive end Dale Pierson to get free and tally five sacks through three games... It's been nice not getting gashed for 5+ yards on every designed run our opponents have called this year.
RCT: Kansas has a real problem on defense, allowing other teams to score like the high school quarterback on prom night. Who on ISU will do the most damage, and which scrub are the Jayhawks going to make look like a Heisman candidate?
WRNL: That whole stopping the rush problem I just mentioned? It appears the KU defense has adopted it. Redshirt freshman Mike Warren stepped up and had a fine outing against Toledo, racking up 126 yards on 21 carries against the Rockets. I wouldn't be surprised to see him post the first back-to-back games of 100+ yards for a Cyclone running back since God knows when.
As for a scrub who'll go all Heisman on you, I'll take a shot and say running back Trever Ryen has a good outing as well. Ryen was a walk-on until he was awarded a scholarship from Coach Rhoads last week. Despite being a short white guy, he's got a background in track and has breakaway speed. If he gets into the open field, look out.
RCT: Prediction for the game? I think everyone is expecting this game to be worse than last week's against Rutgers, so I'll also ask who you think provides the best highlight?
WRNL: My preseason prediction was ISU 38, Kansas 10. I'll stick to that for consistency, but it feels wrong to predict a margin of victory that large.
Highlight of the day will be be flipping over to the WVU-OU game during commercials. Oh, you meant on the field? Uhhh... I'm sure the marching band has a beautiful routine planned for halftime.
RCT: BONUS - We get the feeling that Kansas Football fans are in for a rough season. To do our part to help, we are taking up collections. What alcoholic beverage would you contribute to the storehouse to help our fans drown their sorrows after a loss?
WRNL: I'm not as big into the craft brew scene as a bunch of the other guys on the WRNL staff, but from what I gather, anything made by Toppling Goliath out of Decorah, Iowa will provide the perfect amount of relief from the sorrows of football season. Be sure to grab some of their stuff if you ever get the chance.
Otherwise, I recently had a Left Hand Brewing Milk Stout Nitro and enjoyed it. There's really no wrong choice for this question, so long as you get to the point where you can't see the terrible football anymore if you keep drinking. Cheers to basketball season being right around the corner.
A special thanks to Kevin for taking a few minutes to give us some insight. Don't forget to check out the questions I answered for him over on WRNL.