Opponent: Iowa State
Opponent’s Record: 4-3 (1-3 in Big 12 play)
Location: David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium, Lawrence, Kansas
Game time: Saturday, November 3, 2018 at 11:00 AM
TV channel: Fox Sports Network or Fox Sports Go
Radio: 810 WHB
Line: Iowa State -14.5
The Jayhawks won last Saturday and nobody is happier than Matt Campbell. Iowa State comes to Lawrence looking to keep their Big 12 title game hopes alive and I don’t expect them to sleepwalk against this Kansas team.
Iowa State pulled out a home win last week against Texas Tech. The Cyclones under Matt Campbell have steadily rose through the ranks of college football, serving a model for the success a middling power five program can have with the right coach. On Saturday, they enter Lawrence at 4-3 with an outside chance of playing for the Big 12 championship. They need to win out, and because of that, I expect them to come in focused on Saturday. According to Matt Campbell, and due to a weird scheduling quirk, Iowa State has been preparing for this game all season. With a rainy forecast in the cards for Saturday, Kansas fans should expect a defensive battle between the Cyclones and the Jayhawks.
When Iowa State has the ball
Iowa State will roll out with Brock Purdy as their starter for the fourth game in a row. Purdy, who KU was on late in his recruitment process, plays tough and with moxie. The true freshman has thrown nine touchdowns andtwo interceptions this season and displays great elusiveness when he leaves the pocket. Iowa State, under Campbell, adopts a run-first philosophy. To compliment Purdy, the Cyclones feature one of the best running backs in the country in David Montgomery. Montgomery runs downhill and with attitude. I imagine him and Joe Dineen will make contact a few times on Saturday. On the outside, Iowa State features two wide receivers to watch: Hakeem Butler and Tarique Milton. Butler is 6’6” and lines up all over the field. Jump balls have troubled KU’s corners all season, and Butler excels at that aspect of the game. Milton emerged as one of Purdy’s favorites over the last few weeks. He displays excellent agility and acceleration in the open field. If he gets behind the KU secondary, Purdy will find him.
KU needs to play stout in the run game. Iowa State grinds their yards on the ground, but they will go tempo if they see something they like. If KU can keep Iowa State from picking up chunks on first and second down, they will be in good shape. While Purdy makes plays, forcing him to beat the Jayhawks on third and longs will give Kansas the best chance to succeed defensively. Personally, I am excited to watch Brock Purdy play. Check out this pump fake and touchdown he pulled against Oklahoma State earlier this year. The kid is going to be a stud for Iowa State.
When Kansas has the ball
Peyton Bender will start this Saturday, and he deserves it. I was critical of Bender, rightfully, after the Texas Tech game. He answered the call. Now, I wouldn’t call his performance perfect, but he corrected a lot of things. This week, he will face one of the most unique defenses in the country in Iowa State. Last year, Iowa State made noise when defensive coordinator John Heacock devised a base dime defense that through Big 12 offenses through a loop. Essentially, Iowa State will play base defenses that look almost like 3-1-7 that plays an umbrella like setup. The defense will give up a few 4-5 yards and in turn limit the big plays over the top. While other Big 12 teams employ this philosophy, including Kansas in their new fangled 3-3-5 setup, few execute it the way Iowa State does. Sideline to sideline, the Cyclones have the fastest linebackers in the Big 12. Their cornerbacks have shut down opposing receivers this season. That unit, led by senior captain Brian Peavy, will look to take the ball from Bender.
KU’s patience will be tested this weekend against Iowa State. They won’t give up plays over the top, but they will yield 4-5 yards in front of them. It’s important that Peyton Bender doesn’t force the ball downfield. If KU can take what the defense gives them, they can move the ball effectively against Iowa State. This defense operates in a unique fashion, and for football buffs, Saturday will provide a good opportunity to watch a cutting edge defense operate.
Woo, Kansas won again, and I predicted wrong again. KU played well last week and responded after getting blown out. Now the question is how do they respond as winners? Unlike TCU, Iowa State is figuring things out. The Cyclones continue to improve and Brock Purdy plays like a future superstar in this league. Bill Connelly’s S&P+ predicts a Cyclone cover; Sagarin predicts the same. This game puts me in a bind. I think KU legitimately improved last week, but not enough to beat a team that is demonstrably better than TCU. They still needed a ton of breaks to beat a spiralling team. I think Iowa State wins and covers.
Iowa State 34, Kansas 17
Season record: 4-4, 3-5 ATS