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Dawg Preview: #23 Kansas Jayhawks Take on the Iowa State Cyclones in Ames

The Kansas Jayhawks, coming off perhaps the biggest regular season win in program history with the upset over the previously undefeated Oklahoma Sooners, face another tough test when they travel to Ames to take on the Iowa State Cyclones. The Cyclones are currently tied for 1st in the conference standings and will become bowl-eligible with a win here. Not only that, but the game will be taking place at night when the Cyclones thrive at home. Iowa State has pulled off multiple key upsets throughout their history at home with evening games, including recent wins over Oklahoma in 2020 and 2021, Oklahoma State as well in 2021, and multiple other big wins throughout the past 10 years, growing the legend of Jack Trice Stadium after dark. It's also the homecoming for the Cyclones, with 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy being in attendance, which makes this game all the more important...Let's take a look at what this matchup will bring.

Broadcast Info:

When: Saturday, November 4th, 2023

Time: 7:00 pm EST

Location: Jack Trice Stadium, Ames, Iowa


Calling: Mike Monaco and Robert Griffin III

Radio: Jayhawk Radio Network 810 AM (Kansas), Cyclone Radio Network (Iowa State)

Betting Line

Iowa State -2.5

Over/Under: 53.5

Tale of the Tape: Kansas Jayhawks

Kansas is coming off a big win but immediately goes into another huge game to maintain pace in the Big 12 race. They cannot get complacent and rest on their laurels if they want more out of this season than just making bowl eligibility and beating Oklahoma, which rest assured, they do. Kansas has entered a new era in their program where they have given the Jayhawk faithful something to be proud of on the football field, and they want to continue to build that. Offensively, the Iowa State defense poses a mighty challenge. Last year the hot Kansas offense was only able to put up 14 points, and while it was enough for a win, it took help from a Cyclone kicker that was completely off his game. They do not want to have to depend on that this year and will need to figure ways around this top-30 defense. Utilizing their rushing attack has been the Jayhawks' bread and butter this year, getting Devin Neal and Daniel Hishaw going early will be key. Jason Bean will also have to be on his A-game, as Iowa State is 13th in turnover margin and 3rd in passes intercepted. He has to maintain confidence and make good decisions, something he's had trouble with from time to time this season. Using his legs as well may be beneficial, as we saw against Oklahoma. Maintaining possession and matriculating the ball down the field (in the words of the immortal Hank Stram) will be imperative, scoring slowly and allowing the run game/your offensive line to take over the game. Kansas ranks 12th in total rushing and will need to flex that muscle with authority if they want to go into Ames and dominate.

Defensively, the Jayhawks need to build off their performance from last week, forcing mistakes and making tackles. They held a potent Oklahoma offense to 33 points, 171 yards passing, and 440 total yards. Mind you, this Oklahoma offense averages 41.9 points, 308.9 yards passing, and about 500 yards a game, being the 7th-ranked offense in the nation. The Iowa State offense poses a lesser challenge, but still one not to be overlooked. The Cyclones rank 102nd in rushing offense and 85th in passing, notching up 122.9 yards/game and 214.9 yards/game respectively. The rushing offense bodes well for the Jayhawks, as their defense against the run is their weakest link. Their secondary should have no trouble defending against these Iowa State receivers either, the keyword being 'shouldn't'... Leading receiver Jayden Higgins still boasts an average of 18.3 yards/catch. As long as the Jayhawks stay the course from last week, keep the Iowa State offense contained, keep possession, and put points on the board, they should come out with victory.

Tale of the Tape: Iowa State Cyclones

Iowa State is truly a team that belongs in the Big Ten West. Low-scoring offense with a stout, physical defense carrying the load. This being said the Kansas defense does have its holes, and the Cyclone offense put up 30 points in back-to-back games. They seem to be finding their stride here, which could spell trouble for a Jayhawk defense that may overlook them. Quarterback Rocco Becht's best performance so far this year was against an Oklahoma State team that the Cyclones beat but the Jayhawks did not, throwing for 348 yards and 3 touchdowns. If Becht can have a repeat of that performance against what will be a tougher secondary, then Iowa State is in business. While the run game has been weak for the Cyclones, this could be the game where they can find some life, as the Jayhawk run defense ranks 107th in FBS. If they can find a balanced attack and make this secondary play up to defend the run, they could open up ample opportunities.

As said in the previous paragraph, the Iowa State defense is primarily responsible for the successes this team has seen, ranking 25th in FBS allowing just 326.4 total yards/game. They will be going up against their 2nd toughest test this season, as while the Jayhawks rank 28th in total offense, when the 7th-ranked offense (Oklahoma) puts up 50 on you, there's cause for concern when going up against a high-powered, balanced offense once again. They will need to contain the run game more than anything, as allowing Devin Neal and Daniel Hishaw any space to work will be lethal. Causing Jason Bean to make mistakes and flustering him will make this game much easier, but if you allow Bean to progress his confidence from winning big last week, this only adds another dimension to an already tough team to contain offensively. He can throw the ball well when he's confident, and the Iowa State secondary must be wary of that.

Conclusion and Final Score Prediction:

This won't be your average Big 12 matchup. Two teams that can be brutally physical on both sides of the ball will be pounding it out against one another all game, and it feels like the team that can make the least amount of mistakes and maintain the most amount of possession will win this game. Kansas did a great job of it last week against Oklahoma but will need to continue that trend and keep Bean confident against what will be a much tougher defense. Iowa State has the crowd and the front to make Bean's life miserable, which is why it is so imperative that the run game gets going for the Jayhawks. If Kansas can ignore the noise and embrace the momentum they have after upsetting Oklahoma, as well as beat the Cyclones off the line of scrimmage to create holes for their elite backs to get through, they should make a statement win here. If not, the Cyclones will continue to build the myth surrounding Jack Trice Stadium after dark. Kansas gets the close W here, but Iowa State will make this a tough game that will require Jason Bean's best game management and decision-making he's had all season.

Final Score: Kansas 34-Iowa State 31


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