It goes without saying that the Cyclones and Jayhawks have plenty of room for improvement. From the outside, this matchup may be the least intriguing one in conference play all season, but make no mistake, it will be far from that.
Both teams have shown flashes of improvement throughout the season, but both are looking for their first conference win. For someone, that is going to happen on Saturday. Neither have shown any signs of throwing in the towel, and both teams will lay everything out on the line in this one.
KICKOFF: SAT, NOV 12, 2016 at 11:oo am CST
WHERE: Memorial Stadium (Lawrence, Kansas)
WEATHER: Mainly sunny. High 56 F. Winds light and variable.
STREAM: Fox Sports Go
TV CREW: Mark Followill, Ben Leber, Lesley McCaslin
BETTING LINE: ISU -10
Iowa State Cyclones
The Cyclones had a lot of hope for 2016 under first year head coach Matt Campbell, but when they opened the season it was clear that it would not be an overnight turnaround. Turnovers, inconsistency on offense and indecisiveness at the quarterback position have all led to a disappointing season.
However, in week four, things started to come together for coach Campbell’s squad, and they picked up their first win of the year; a 44-10 victory over San Jose State. They haven’t won since, but not for the lack of effort. The Cyclones have put a scare into Baylor, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, and Oklahoma.
It’s clear they haven’t given up, and coach Campbell is still playing with the puzzle pieces to find the magic combination.
Last week Jacob Park took over at QB1, while Joel Lanning was used as more of a wildcat quarterback.
Running back Mike Warren and wide receiver Allen Lazard need to touch the ball. They’re the Cyclones biggest playmakers.
However, Warren has barely touched the ball this season as his production has fallen off from last year, and the reigning Big 12 freshman of the year can’t be to happy about that.
Keys to the Game for Iowa State
Get The Ball To The Playmakers – Whoever the running back is, whoever the quarterback is, keep the ball in your playmaker’s hands. It’s that simple. Find Lazard early and often.
Build Defensive Consistency – The Cyclones’ defense played great in the second half against Oklahoma. if they can continue that, Campbell will be happy heading home to Ames with his first Big 12 W.
Turnovers have plagued the Jayhawks, and they lead Power 5 teams among total turnovers through their first nine games. 29 turnovers: 11 fumbles and 18 interceptions. The defense has caused 14 turnovers, and for a team playing this poor that isn’t bad. KU is one or two lays away from being a three or four win team.
Quarterback Montell Cozart has played inconsistent throughout the year, but has been improving as the season progresses. Cozart is making better throws, although he still misreads coverages too often which results in those 18 interceptions. Cozart has the ability to control the offense for KU to win this game, but he can’t afford mistakes.
This game is huge for Kansas. It could be their first Big 12 win this season and first since 2014. Kansas has shown plenty of potential throughout the year, but small mistakes continue to hurt the program.
Keys to the Game for Kansas
Don’t Turn It Over – It goes without saying, but the Jayhawks can’t turn it over three or four times and expect to beat ISU. Cozart can’t throw recklessly in the pocket and the running backs have to hold onto the ball.
Win Special Teams – Kansas special teams have played about average this season. A key to who wins this game could be in the kicking game. Punt coverage, field goal tries and kickoff coverage may be the story at the end of the game.
Many probably won’t watch this game, but this is one of the best games in the conference this week. Both teams will be fighting and trying to pick up their second win and first conference win of the season.
Kansas plays better at home, but Iowa State is playing better on both sides of the ball. I think KU will cover the spread (-10), but Iowa State will win 34-31.