Two Big 12 teams off to strong starts will meet on Saturday when the Iowa State Cyclones travel to Lawrence to take on the surprisingly undefeated Kansas Jayhawks
Iowa State Cyclones (3-1) at Kansas Jayhawks (4-0)
@ David Booth Memorial Stadium in Lawrence, KS
How to Watch:
- Date: Saturday, October 1st
- Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
- Channel: ESPN2
Since we have two phenomenal insiders at each of these schools (Maddie Hartley at Kansas and Christian Royston at Iowa State), we asked them a few questions about the upcoming matchup to give you the best insight possible.
“What’s been the biggest key to your team’s success?”
ROYSTON: The offense’s ability to drive the ball down the field. Quarterback Hunter Dekkers shined in each of his first four games, passing for over 1,000 yards and double-digit touchdowns. It’s clear Dekkers has the talent and the weapons to cause problems for any team in the Big 12.
Wide receiver Xavier Hutchinson is also having a historic season, acting as a safety net for the young quarterback. Hutchinson has been a touchdown machine, scoring five touchdowns in the first three weeks, although he couldn’t find the end zone against a tough Baylor defense. Although Baylor dominated on offense, the Iowa State offense kept the game within reach. If the Cyclones want to see success going forward, the offense needs to continue producing at a high level.
HARTLEY: For the Jayhawks, there are two major keys to the 4-0 start: Jalon Daniels, and being extremely well-coached compared to teams in the past. Daniels has eased himself into early Heisman talks with his phenomenal play to start the season, passing for 890 yards so far with 11 touchdowns but has also been known to show off some wheels in each of Kansas’ wins, rushing for 320 yards and four additional touchdowns. Sporting a 98 QBR to lead all of college football, Daniels has without a doubt put the Jayhawks on his back for their early success.
On the other hand, head coach Lance Leipold has brought a much-needed culture change to Kansas, and it’s evident in the production on the field. Stupid mistakes have been limited thus far in the season, with the Jayhawks only holding 19 penalties across four games, but going beyond that, this Kansas team just seems more connected and in-groove than anything we’ve seen from over the past decade, and it can absolutely be traced back to the coaching.
“What’s your team’s biggest weakness?”
ROYSTON: Iowa State’s biggest weakness has been turnovers. With how young and inexperienced the team is, turnovers are to be expected. In four weeks, Dekkers threw five interceptions. Four of those interceptions came in the CyHawk game and the Big 12 season opener. Throwing picks against good teams seems to be the trend for Dekkers, which could cause issues when the Cyclones take on the elite teams in the Big 12.
Along with the interceptions, Dekkers also fumbled the ball against Ohio. Ball security continues to be an issue and is one of the main areas the team is working to improve. Not only has Dekkers had trouble hanging onto the ball, running back Jirehl Brock has a pair of fumbles on the year. It’s clear that the Cyclones need to get a handle on the mistakes to compete with the tough teams in the Big 12. Giving free points to the opposing teams will be costly when games are close.
HARTLEY: Going into week five, the Iowa State defense is going to be a massive obstacle for Kansas to try and overcome, and I think that the Cyclones’ defense has the potential to ultimately kill the Jayhawks this week. Limiting running backs to just 2.7 yards per carry all year, Iowa State’s defense is going to force Kansas to get creative in moving the ball down the field, but that has not been a strength for them so far this season.
“Who’s one player the opposing defense should fear and why?”
ROYSTON: Hutchinson is one player the Kansas defense is going to have to keep an eye on. Through four games, Hutchinson has amassed 403 yards on 36 receptions and five touchdowns. Dekkers targeted Hutchinson at least 10 times in each game and will continue to feed him as the year goes on. Hutchinson ended the Big 12 opener with eight catches, even with the attention he was getting from the Baylor secondary.
If Kansas wants to take down Iowa State, it’s going to have to find a way to shut down Hutchinson. Not only is he dangerous when he gets the ball, but his presence on the field also allows other receivers opportunities to make plays.
HARTLEY: Outside of the obvious answer of Jalon Daniels, the Cyclones need to keep an eye on freshman runningback Daniel Hishaw. Hishaw’s coming off of an explosive game against Duke, highlighted by a 73-yard touchdown pass from Daniels. Hishaw was a huge playmaker in the week four win, so expect him to be a threat to the Cyclones’ defense when he’s on the field.
“Who’s one player the opposing offense should fear and why?”
ROYSTON: There are many veterans on the Iowa State defense that could cause problems for Kansas. O’Rien Vance and Will McDonald have been all over the run game, while Anthony Johnson has been keeping the ball out of the air. But there is one player that has a lot to prove on Saturday.
Beau Freyler is coming off a rough two weeks of football. He was banged up coming out of the CyHawk game, which caused him to sit out against Ohio. During the first drive of the Baylor game, Freyler went in for a hit that wasn’t well aimed. He ended up drawing a targeting penalty and getting disqualified from the game. Two weeks off wouldn’t sit well with any player, especially with how talented Freyler looks. With everything to prove, Freyler is going to be a force to reckon with.
HARTLEY: Iowa State, watch out for junior linebacker Rich Miller. Leading the team with 31 tackles so far, Miller’s my pick to be the biggest threat to the Cyclones.
“Who’s going to win and why?”
ROYSTON: I believe Iowa State is going to come out on top against Kansas. Kansas is on a hot streak and looks to be different from the Kansas team from the past. The wins against Houston and Duke make it seem as though they are capable of competing with good teams, but the Big 12 is no joke.
Iowa State played Baylor within one score and looks as good as ever. Not only that, Iowa State has a history of beating Kansas, going undefeated in the Matt Campbell era. Kansas has only won one time against Iowa State in the last 12 years. Both Dekkers and Daniels can put up impressive showings on offense, so there’s a good chance the game ends up being a shootout. I think Iowa State can do a better job of closing out the game and should come out with a win.
HARTLEY: The Jayhawks continue to get into the thick of their schedule, but I’ll say it right now– Kansas is going into next week 5-0 after (what I think) is going to be a win against Iowa State. The Cyclones are coming off of a tough loss against the Baylor Bears in which the team averaged 2.4 yards per carry with the ball. Kansas is nothing like the team from Waco, but nonetheless, if Iowa State struggled last week with the rush game, then the ever-improving Kansas defense will send the Cyclones back to Ames with their second loss of the season.
But also– Can anybody stop Jalon Daniels right now? It’s going to take an army to take care of Daniels and his stunning season, and in front of a packed-out Booth, he’ll continue to add on to his career-making season on Saturday.
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