The Kansas University football team defeated West Virginia by a dozen. WVU topped Oklahoma State by nine points. OSU hammered Baylor by 32 points, and Baylor clobbered Iowa State by 64.
Based on those four outcomes, KU should have beaten Iowa State by 117 points, but lost by 34, a swing of 151 points.
Unless you don’t put 100-percent faith in comparative scores, something just didn’t add up Saturday in Ames, where the Jayhawks spent the night running not to fall down, and the Cyclones adjusted to the grass-and-ice field far better.
Conspiracy theorists might find it interesting that Iowa State ranks 10th in the 2013 QS World University Rankings by subject in “Ag & Forestry.”
If I had anything to do with Iowa State football, I certainly would mine the fertile brains of every nearby grass expert not lost in thought listening to Grateful Dead tunes while marveling at how lava lamps seem to have minds of their own, and such creative ones at that.
I would ask them what could be done to a grass, crowned football field to prepare it in such a way as to make the surface outside the numbers on the field more fit for hockey than football. And then I would bring every variety of shoe I had to the grass expert and ask which would work best on ice. Next, I would equip receivers and defensive backs with just such shoes and let the guys who spend most of their time in the middle of the field stay with more conventional cleats.
I certainly am not accusing anyone at Iowa State of altering the field to the Cyclones’ advantage, I’m just saying that’s what I would have done.
Gamesmanship is part of playing games. Hayden Fry, one-time Iowa coach whose tree spawned so much quality fruit, including Kansas State living legend Bill Snyder, painted the visiting locker room at Kinnick Stadium pink because he had read that the color has a calming effect. Calm and violent go together about as well as figure skating and football. KU hasn’t had a winning football team since 2008. Nevertheless, the Jayhawks are much better football players than they are skaters.
If it were just the wide receivers slipping all over the place, well, they haven’t had the best of games on the best of fields, but KU’s cornerbacks, JaCorey Shepherd and Dexter McDonald, are two of the top players on the team, and they had trouble running with conviction.
Afterward, Shepherd said he thought “it’s more of a Nike and adidas thing, just the way that they make their cleats.”
James Sims wondered if longer cleats would have helped, but unlike in the NFL, the normal cleats are the longest allowed. Coach Charlie Weis said some players switched to shorter cleats, believing they would have less chance of getting stuck.
Whatever the reason, Iowa State was more prepared to play under the rare conditions, a failure on KU’s part.