WHEN KANSAS HAS THE BALL
Kansas rush offense vs. Iowa State rush defense
Even without starting running back Jake Sharp the past two games, the Jayhawks have averaged 209.2 rushing yards per game, good for second in the Big 12. With Sharp expected to return this week, the team’s ground game appears as potent as it has been in recent memory. Sharp was averaging more than 110 yards per game before suffering an undisclosed injury, and backup Toben Opurum filled in nicely in his absence, rushing for 70 yards against Duke and 109 against Southern Mississippi. The Cyclones, meanwhile, are giving up an average of 157.6 yards per game on the ground, ranked 10th in the Big 12.
Kansas pass offense vs. Iowa State pass defense
Senior quarterback Todd Reesing has been his usual efficient self, ranking among the top 15 quarterbacks nationally in total offense (306.5 yards per game, ninth in the country), points responsible for (16.5 per game, ninth), completions per game (24, 12th) and passing yards per game (284.25, 14th). A receiving corps led by Dezmon Briscoe (110.3 receiving yards per game) and Kerry Meier (335 total receiving yards, three touchdowns) has certainly helped Reesing’s cause. Iowa State has allowed just 200.8 passing yards per game this season, fifth in the conference, but has also given up a Big 12-worst 10 touchdowns through the air.
WHEN IOWA STATE HAS THE BALL
Iowa State rush offense vs. Kansas rush defense
Despite missing the final three quarters of the Cyclones’ loss to Kansas State last weekend due to injury, starting tailback Alexander Robinson is expected to return to the lineup against Kansas. Currently the Big 12’s third-best rusher, he has rushed 84 times for 502 yards for a 110.4 yards-per-game average and had managed three straight 100-yard games before the K-State game. The Jayhawks, however, have been exceptional against the run so far this season, giving up just 59.3 yards per game to rank third nationally in rush defense. Their top performance came against UTEP, when they held the Miners to just four yards on 20 carries in a 34-7 victory.
Iowa State pass offense vs. Kansas pass defense
The Cyclones’ pass attack has left much to be desired throughout the first five weeks of the season, averaging a Big 12-worst 171.6 yards per game. Junior quarterback Austin Arnaud has the conference’s worst completion percentage (53-percent), though he has rushed for 64.4 yards per game and scored five touchdowns on the ground. At the same time, Kansas’ pass defense has been less than stellar this season. The Jayhawks rank 98th nationally in pass yards allowed per game, and they gave up 331 yards to unheralded Southern Mississippi quarterback Austin Davis two weeks ago.
Neither team has been especially impressive in special teams this season. Kansas punt returner Daymond Patterson has been adequate, averaging 9.5 yards per return, while Briscoe hasn’t yet showed the explosiveness he displayed while returning kicks late last season. ISU punter Michael Brandtner has been a bright spot for the Cyclones — he ranks fifth in the Big 12 with a 43.8 yards-per-punt average — but the team has little else to hang its hat on.