When Kansas has the ball
Kansas rush offense vs. Iowa State rush defense
Ten games into the season, KU’s running game just continues to get better. Last week, during a double-overtime loss at Texas Tech, the Jayhawks racked up 390 yards on the ground, as Tony Pierson topped 200 yards and James Sims went over the 100-yard mark for a school-record sixth straight game. Given that the Jayhawks continue to put up those types of numbers against teams that know the run is coming only emphasizes how impressive KU’s ground game has been this season and keeps the advantage firmly in KU’s corner no matter which team the Jayhawks face.
Kansas pass offense vs. Iowa State pass defense
KU pretty much only threw when it had to last week, and with the running game cruising along, head coach Charlie Weis has not asked Michael Cummings to throw much during his four starts. That figures to be the theme again this week, even though the Cyclones rank just eighth in the Big 12 in pass defense and have given up 293 yards per game and 15 total touchdowns to opposing passers. Although ISU has given up big stat totals, the Cyclones rank third in the Big 12 and are among the nation’s best in scoring defense, giving up just 23 points per game.
Edge: Iowa State.
When Iowa State has the ball
Iowa State rush offense vs. Kansas rush defense
Iowa State ranks eighth in the Big 12 in rushing offense, averaging 137.8 yards-per game. The Jayhawks’ defense, however, also ranks eighth against the run and has given up some big days to rather pedestrian rushing attacks this season. The Cyclones don’t have a true home-run hitter in the backfield, though, as juniors Shontrelle Johnson and James White have received most of the carries this season but are averaging just 43 and 48 yards per game, respectively. Quarterbacks Steele Jantz and Jared Barnett both are capable of tucking the ball and running, but they’re not the threat that most Big 12 QBs are in this area.
Iowa State pass offense vs. Kansas pass defense
Although the more experienced Jantz has handled quarterbacking duties during the past few weeks, both he and Barnett have played this season, and both have played plenty in their careers. Weis said KU, which has the seventh-ranked pass defense in the Big 12, would be prepared for both QBs and also would have its hands full with Iowa State’s deep and talented group of wideouts, which is led by senior Aaron Horne. Coming off of a strong effort against Texas Tech’s up-tempo, high-powered offense last week, in which the Jayhawks held the Red Raiders to just six points in the final two-and-a-half quarters of regulation, KU should have as much confidence as it has had all season heading into this one.
ISU punter Kirby Van Der Kamp is a bona fide weapon in the kicking game and has been a game-changer in several of the Cyclones’ contests this season. Iowa State ranks second in the Big 12 in punt-return average, 10th in kickoff return average and in the middle of the pack in most other special-teams categories. Place kicker Edwin Arceo has hit seven of 11 field-goal attempts this season, including a long of 51 yards. As for the Jayhawks, though improved, the special teams continue to be a work in progress, though sophomore kicker Nick Prolago has drilled a couple of pressure-packed field goals, including one that sent the game into overtime last week at Tech.
Edge: Iowa State.