Hoping to pull off their second straight upset of a ranked opponent, the Iowa State Cyclones welcome the sixth-ranked Kansas State Cyclones to Jack Trice Stadium in Ames for a Big 12 Conference clash on Saturday afternoon.
Kansas State has yet to taste defeat this season, winning each of its first five games by an average of 28 points. The Wildcats are 2-0 in conference after slipping past Oklahoma (24-19) and then blasting intrastate rival Kansas (56-16). KSU has now won 17 of the last 22 meetings with the Jayhawks, and the recent victory was the 100th for the 'Cats as a ranked team under the direction of legendary coach Bill Snyder.
Iowa State claimed a 37-23 win at No. 13 TCU last Saturday, improving the team to 4-1 for the first time since 2002. The Cyclones, mostly an afterthought in a league that boasts high-powered offensive teams like West Virginia, Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas State and Texas Tech, have now beaten a ranked opponent in each of the last three seasons -- the first time in school history that has happened. Last week's win also marked ISU's first over a top-15 foe since upsetting No. 9 Nebraska (24-21) on Oct. 15, 1977, and it also snapped TCU's national-best 12-game winning streak.
Iowa State leads the all-time series with Kansas State, 49-42, but the Wildcats have won 18 of the last 22 meetings dating back to 1990.
John Hubert ran for 101 yards and a career-high four TDs to fuel the Kansas State offense last week, while Collin Klein started his 20th career game and wound up with 129 yards and two TDs passing, and 116 yards and a pair of scores rushing. When the dust had settled, the Wildcats had churned out 346 yards on the ground, averaging a whopping 9.6 yards per carry. Only three players caught a pass for K-State in the contest, with WR Chris Harper leading the way with four grabs for 69 yards.
While not content with the overall effort of his team, coach Snyder did have some praise for Hubert and the guys who block for him.
"I think the good guys in front helped a great deal. Nobody can do it without some people up front. Our offensive line did a nice job, his fullback Braden (Wilson) had a nice game blocking for him and he is pretty good about not making an awful lot of mistakes fitting the ball where he does not have a chance. He does not run it in the wrong holes; he puts it were it needs to be. He has got good vision and is able to see more than what is just right in front of his nose."
The K-State defense allowed the Jayhawks 388 total yards last week, but forced a season-high five turnovers and came up with four sacks. DB Ty Zimmerman led the unit with 11 tackles, and he had one of the team's three picks on the day. DE Meshak Williams was credited with a pair of sacks.
Utilizing a two-pronged attack that generates 262.8 ypg rushing and 177.4 ypg passing, the Wildcats are lighting up the scoreboard to the tune of 43.6 ppg. Both Hubert (527 yards, eight TDs) and Klein (405 yards, seven TDs) have been effective, the latter also hitting the mark on 67 percent of his passes with seven scoring strikes against only two interceptions. No receiver has more than the 16 catches, 260 yards, and three TDs that Tramaine Thompson has.
Stopping the run has been KSU's strength on defense this season, as the enemy is averaging just 3.2 ypc and only 108.6 ypg. LB Arthur Brown continues to lead the team in tackles with 41, while Williams and DE Adam Davis have combined for six of the Wildcats' 14 sacks.
Iowa State hasn't exactly lit the world on fire from an offensive standpoint, averaging 26.8 points and 365.2 total yards per contest. QB Jantz Steele has been somewhat efficient in completing nearly 67 percent of his pass attempts, but at just 160.8 ypg with seven TDs and as many interceptions, his play at times has been maddening. Thus head coach Paul Rhoades has opted to go with Jared Barnett at times in an attempt to stabilize the offense. The Cyclones' rushing attack features the one-two punch of James White and Shontrelle Johnson, the duo combining for 493 yards and three TDs, while WR Josh Lenz heads the receiving corps with 18 grabs for 279 yards and four TDs.
Defensively, ISU has done a solid job keeping the opposition at bay, yielding a mere 15.8 ppg behind typical outputs of 115.8 ypg rushing and 222.2 ypg passing. The Cyclones have given up just two TDs on the ground, while logging 30 TFL, 11 sacks and 12 turnovers. LB Jake Knott, who posted a season-high 13 tackles in last week's win over TCU, giving him 312 for his career, leads the team with 44 total stops, while DB Durrell Givens has recovered three fumbles and DB Jacques Washington has three picks.
The Cyclones jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter at TCU last week and never looked back en route to their fourth win in five games this season. Despite having the ball for nearly 12 minutes less and tallying 350 total yards compared to 455 for the Horned Frogs, ISU managed to pull off the upset. Barnett threw for 183 yards and three TDs, all to Lenz, who finished with five grabs for 147 yards. The run game produced 152 yards, although White was the high man with only 53.
While TCU was able to generate 216 yards on the ground and another 270 through the air, the Cylones stood tall when they needed to most. The defense, led by Jake McDonough (seven tackles, two sacks), notched four sacks and five takeaways on the day. Givens pounced on a pair of fumbles.