As Kansas State heads into Ames, Iowa, for Saturday’s football game, the contrasts between the two teams are clear.
In short, K-State’s just a better football team.
The Wildcats are coming off a gritty 24-21 win in Manhattan last week, which required them to stifle a fourth-quarter comeback attempt by the Longhorns, while the Cyclones take the field fresh off a bye week. Before that, they lost to 27-6 to Texas in Austin on Oct.15.
Statistics for the two teams indicate different approaches, both offensively and defensively. The Cyclones’ offense has averaged 102 more yards passing than running this season, while their defense has allowed slightly fewer yards per game through the air than on the ground. In total, they’ve allowed 461 yards per game, which ranks them No. 111 out of 128 nationally.
Wildcats aim to continue success against Cyclones, clench road win
On the other side, K-State is a team that runs on offense and stops the run defensively. Though the Wildcats only average about 16 more yards per game passing on offense, they allow 153 fewer yards on the ground than they do through the passing game. Their defense, which has played against strong foes like Oklahoma and Texas Tech, has allowed 344 yards per game, good for No. 23 nationally.
The Wildcats also bring senior defensive end Jordan Willis, who despite having played teams with good offensive lines, is tied for the third-most sacks in Division I college football, with eight.
Still, if you’re a college football fan who likes a close game, this one might actually be worth watching, even if the statistics suggest probably otherwise.
The last two games between the two have ended in single-digit victories for the Wildcats. The Wildcats won 38-35 in Manhattan last season, and 32-28 in Ames in 2014.
Head coach Bill Snyder said Iowa State is still a competitive team.
“In some cases (against Iowa State) we have been fortunate,” Snyder said. “In all cases, we have been fortunate to have a lot of good young guys who do not give in and who understand that it is a 60-minute ballgame.”
The Wildcats, even in defeat, have had success against stronger opponents than Iowa State has this season.
Iowa State has played two teams that have been ranked this season and lost to both, one being a horrific 42-3 loss against Iowa. K-State has played three teams that have been ranked this season and lost to all of them as well.
K-State has still emerged with the better record, though, winning four out of five games against unranked opponents, while Iowa State’s one win came against San Jose State.
Their one common opponent so far has been Texas. Defensively, the Cyclones showed they could hold the line defensively for at least a half. They took a 6-3 lead into halftime before Texas broke through in the third. K-State held their ground early against Texas before letting them back in it last week.
Snyder acknowledged that the team hung on, but that was about it.
“No one gave in or let up in an emotional way,” Snyder said. “I think that part was still there. It just boils down to execution and doing things right. We gave up a long touchdown that we should not have, but if we do what we are supposed to, that does not happen.”
Barring something weird — like Iowa State doing its best Penn State impression, who beat No. 2 Ohio State last week — K-State should give Iowa State one more reason to look forward to next season.