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Dawg Review: #23 Kansas Jayhawk Defense Key in 28-21 Win Against Cyclones



The Kansas Jayhawks traveled up to Ames, Iowa to take on the Iowa State Cyclones in a night game at Jack Trice Stadium. Night games at Jack Trice are already notorious for playing host to major upset victories for the Cyclones, and with it being homecoming for Iowa State, expectations were high for the Cyclones to prove why teams don't like coming to Jack Trice after dark. Unfortunately for them, they didn't count on Lance Leipold's Kansas Jayhawks to bring their A-game and come out swinging even after Kansas's own upset victory at home versus Oklahoma. No post-upset hangover to be found here, let's look at how exactly things shook out.



Game Summary

As stated before, the Jayhawks came out firing to start this game, scoring a touchdown on their opening drive against this vaunted Iowa State defense with relative ease. The Cyclones missed a field goal and teams traded punts before Mello Dotson grabbed his second 'pick 6' in two weeks, becoming the first Jayhawk ever to have 'pick 6's' in back-to-back games. The defensive masterclass for both teams continued throughout the first 2 quarters, as Iowa State put up their first points of the game with a field goal to close the half. Kansas would then open the half with Devin Neal's second touchdown of the contest to go up 21-3, however, this time Iowa State would answer back with an Eli Sanders run for both a touchdown and a two-point conversion to make it a 10-point game. Iowa State would then force a punt and score on the ensuing drive to make it interesting. Then, Jason Bean more or less ripped the hearts out of the Cyclone faithful, throwing an absolute bomb to Lawrence Arnold for 80 yards to go up 10 once again with 7:51 left. Kansas would only allow a field goal on the final offensive drive for the Cyclones, and the Jayhawk offense would hoard possession for the final 4:53 to end the game. The Jayhawks move to 7-2 and guarantee their first winning season since 2008.



Turning Point of the Game:

Iowa State would score a touchdown with about 8 minutes left in the 4th to cut the lead to just 3. The Jayhawks were rolling to that point but had somewhat stalled in the 3rd and early 4th, not producing on offense and getting beat up on defense by both the Iowa State offense converting on 3rd down and the officiating. Things weren't looking good as Iowa State was surging back and someone needed to make a play to demoralize the Cyclones. As if on cue, that play came in the form of Kansas quarterback Jason Bean launching the ball over the top of the Iowa State defense on the first play of the drive to Lawrence Arnold, who ran it in for the 80-yard score. The Cyclones anticipated the run and for Kansas to eat up the clock, and got absolutely burned. This play noticeably demoralized Iowa State, who while they got a field goal on the next drive, looked out of sorts as Kansas just hammered the run for the final 5 minutes of the game to drain the clock out.


Kansas Jayhawk - Player of the Game: Lawrence Arnold

This was a tight contest, as Devin Neal showed bell-cow back status by carrying the ball in for 2 touchdowns and receiving over 20 touches, while Jason Bean showed that he can lead this team to big victories with authority. However, receiver Lawrence Arnold gets the nod here as the receiver went for over 100 yards on a 37.5 yards/catch average, not to mention the touchdown that sealed the game. This was not anticipated to be a game where Kansas would throw the football, but Arnold along with Quentin Skinner and Luke Grimm getting ample yardage and exposing this secondary that was named the best in the Big 12 by some showed that Kansas is not afraid to trust Jason Bean slinging the rock. Lawrence Arnold benefitted the most from that, and he earned team MVP honors.



Iowa State Cyclone - Player of the Game: Eli Sanders

Cyclone running back Eli Sanders did his best to keep his team in this contest, rushing for 14 carries, 57 yards, and a score. A team not known for their offensive prowess, Sanders showed that he can become one of the better backs in the Big 12 in due time, being only a sophomore. While it can be concurred that the Kansas run defense certainly isn't the best, Sanders still looked excellent and would still look good against some of the better defenses in the country. The future is bright for this kid, he's only just getting started.


Conclusion:

Kansas secures their first winning season in over a decade. The job that Lance Leipold has done for this program in just 3 years has been incredible, and Kansas is no longer "just a basketball school", as they are firmly in the race for the Big 12 title. They'll need to win out and will need Texas and/or Oklahoma State to drop one or two to get in, but it is possible, something many people never thought they would say. Kansas is 7-2 and in conference title contention. Iowa State moves to 5-4, with plenty of chances to go bowling still. This squad was not picked to finish highly in the Big 12, and they've proved a lot of people wrong this year by maintaining a winning record in the face of the adversity they've faced. They're a young team with a lot of promise, and with just a single win in the last 3 games, they'll be bowl-eligible.

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