The Kansas State and Iowa State matchup traditionally holds a lot at stake. In 2018, with bowl eligibility on the line, the Cyclones defeated the Wildcats 42-38 — it was ultimately Bill Snyder’s final game at the helm.
This time around, it’s the Wildcats who have an opportunity to play spoiler and a chance to bounce back to the top of the standings.
Despite the two-game skid, the Wildcats remain in contention in the congested Big 12 Conference title race. K-State dominated the series with Iowa State — unofficially dubbed Farmageddon — the last ten years, going 9-1. A win would even the all-time series to 50 apiece.
Freshman running back Deuce Vaughn was held in check during the last two games. Vaughn had 68 total yards in those competitions. With the focus on Vaughn, the Wildcats were able to open up opportunities running the ball.
Iowa State boasts the top rushing defense in the Big 12, limiting opponents to 105.7 rush yards per game. This poses a challenge for K-State as leading receiver senior tight end Briley Moore’s availability is still in question after he suffered an injury against West Virginia.
The Cyclones avoided disaster in a 38-31 comeback win over Baylor last time out. Junior quarterback Brock Purdy threw for 164 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions in the contest.
The K-State defense is dominant this season, and the secondary will have to be looking to capitalize on arrant throws by Purdy, who has thrown six on the season. The Wildcats have seven interceptions this season and is second in the Big 12 in turnover margin with 11 total gained and seven lost.
Stopping the run is crucial for the Wildcats on Saturday, as the Cyclones hold the top spot in rushing offense, powered by sophomore running back Breece Hall.
Hall is a force for the Cyclones this season. He is the conference leader in rushing, averaging 147.7 yards per game, and in touchdowns with 14 on the season.
He may fly under the radar in Heisman Trophy voting this season, but he will get a lot of attention from K-State on Saturday.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Senior running back Harry Trotter needs to produce on Saturday if the Cyclones shut down Vaughn.
Senior defensive lineman Drew Wiley is currently in the Top 15 in the conference in sacks and tackles for loss. He is part of a defense that recorded 19 sacks on the season and limits opponents to only 25 points per game. Getting into the backfield will be key for the Wildcats to be successful.
Iowa State has a tight end room that looks like a basketball team with every player at least six feet tall. Junior tight end Charlie Kolar is second on the team in receiving with 264 yards and three touchdowns. This size and depth at tight end will be an issue for the Wildcats on Saturday.
Junior linebacker Mike Rose is the leader in the conference in interceptions this season with three. Rose leads the Cyclones in tackles with 56 on the season. Howard will have to be aware of where he is at all times.
The Wildcats are 11-point underdogs, and the over/under is set at 46.5. Kickoff is scheduled for 3 p.m. on Fox.