Kansas State (4-1) (2-0)
K-State enters this matchup after another high-scoring Big 12 victory. The Wildcats defeated Texas Tech 37-26 in a game that featured a 20-20 tie to start the fourth quarter. The running game and defense were the catalysts in securing the win. Quarterback Adrian Martinez and running back Deuce Vaughn each ran for at least 170 yards. The defense had six takeaways. One takeaway came from defensive end Felix Anudike-Uzomah, forcing a fumble on one of his three sacks. The star players continue to drive the team, centering around the ground game and making monumental plays on defense.
Iowa State (3-2) (0-2)
The Cyclones started off the season 3-0 but have fallen in their Big 12 games against Baylor and Kansas. Iowa State held the up-and-coming 5-0 Jayhawks’ high-power offense to only 14 points last week but couldn’t find offensive success. Wide receiver Xavier Hutchinson stands out against an otherwise sluggish offense. Mistakes on special teams played a major role in their second loss of the season. Iowa State failed to convert a game-tying field goal attempt with less than 30 seconds remaining in the game. These inefficiencies hold Iowa State back from competing as one of the top teams in the Big 12.
Key Matchup to Watch: K-State run game vs. Iowa State run defense
K-State has placed among the top rushing attack teams statistically. Martinez and Vaughn are on pace to run for over 1,000 yards this season — a rare feat for any team — however, the Wildcats lack play-by-play consistency on the ground. Many of the team’s yards come from plays of 20 yards or more. K-State’s ability to run far down the field has masked the team’s numerous running plays that come to a halt at the line of scrimmage. Martinez’s running presence has helped open the running lanes for Vaughn, but the issue still remains relevant. Over 55 percent of the team’s rushing yards came from three runs against Texas Tech. A consistent running game that breaks past the front line would greatly factor into success against one of the best run defenses in college football.
The Cyclones have allowed their opponents less than three yards per carry this season, including holding the Jayhawks to 3.8 yards per carry. The Jayhawks’ run game has statistically surpassed the Wildcats this season, averaging 6.2 yards per carry. The Iowa State rushing defense proved themselves by holding one of the best ground games in college football to nearly half their normal production.
Offensive Lineman Cooper Beebe
Cornerbacks Julius Brents/Ekow Boye-Doe
Wide Receiver Xavier Hutchinson
Linebackers O’Rien Vance/Colby Reeder
Prediction: K-State 23-21