Big 12 Pick of the Week: K-State at Iowa State

Just like last season, the first head-to-head Big 12 matchup will take place in Week 2 of the schedule. A year ago it was West Virginia at Oklahoma to kickoff the conference schedule. This season, Kansas State will be at Iowa State in a game two matchup for both teams.

Kansas State comes into it game in Ames ranked No. 20 in the country in both major polls (AP and USA Today) looking for win number two on the season following a 55-16 pounding handed to Stephen F. Austin last Saturday. Iowa State, on the other hand, is hoping to rebound from a 34-14 thrashing the Cyclones received in their season opener at home to three-time defending  FCS champion North Dakota State.

That is the same North Dakota State team, incidentally, that upset Kansas State in the Wildcats’ season opener a year ago.

Aug 30, 2014; Ames, IA, USA; Iowa State Cyclones quarterback Sam B. Richardson (12) attempts a pass against the North Dakota State Bison at Jack Trice Stadium. North Dakota State defeated Iowa State 34-14. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas State has won the last six games in the series with Iowa State, but four of the last five games have been decided by seven points or less. That was not the case last year, however, as K-State won 41-7 in Manhattan.

The all-time series between these two teams has been relatively close, with the Cyclones holding a 49-44-4 advantage, Iowa State is 29-17-3 in games vs. K-State played in Ames.

Iowa State closed out the regular season a year ago with consecutive conference wins over Kansas and West Virginia. The Cyclones have not won three consecutive Big 12 games since 2011, though, and the last time they won their conference-opening game was over a decade ago, back in 2002.

Kansas State showed a balanced offensive attack against Stephen F. Austin, with seven different ball carriers rushing for 240 yards and senior quarterback Jake Waters connecting on 19 of 28 passes for 223 of the Wildcats’ 238 passing yards and two touchdowns.

Iowa State had 253 yards of total offense in its home opener with North Dakota State, but 196 of that came in the opening half. The Cyclones also struggled running the ball, finishing with 102 net yards on the ground.

Even more troubling, though, for Cyclone fans was the yardage given up by the Iowa State defense. North Dakota State rolled up 506 yards of offense on the Cyclone defenders and scored 34 unanswered points after Iowa State had jumped out to a 14-0 lead just 16 minutes into the game.

Kansas State will be Iowa State’s first ranked opponent this season. Playing in the Big 12, the Cyclones are likely to encounter three or four other ranked opponents this season, which is not necessarily a good thing if you are the Cyclones. Iowa State is 17-170-2 all-time against ranked opponents and 11-79-1 at home when taking on a team ranked in the top 25.

Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder is 18-4 in his career against Iowa State. There is a coaching connection between the two schools. Mark Mangino, the new offensive coordinator at Iowa State under head coach Paul Rhoads, coached for seven seasons at K-State under Snyder. Mangino left Kansas State to join Bob Stoops’ staff at Oklahoma in 1999, and was head coach at Kansas from 2002 to 2009.

Three Things to Watch for in this Game

  • Iowa State has to be able to stop or at least slow down the Kansas State running game. If not, the K-State quarterback, Jake Waters, will have a field day picking apart the Iowa State defenders with the passing game, which this year is the most potent part of the Wildcat offense.
  • Field position could play an important part in the outcome of this game, as it does in practically every game. Iowa State had an outstanding punting game last Saturday. Colin Downing of the Cyclones averaged 45.7 yards per kick last Saturday on six punts, including two he placed inside the 20-yard line. The Cyclones cannot afford to shorten the field for the K-State offense.
  • Expect to see a lot more of Tyler Lockett in this game. The All-Big 12 wide receiver and kick returner caught just one pass against Stephen F. Austin and did not return any kicks. This being a conference game, you can expect to see much more of the Waters-to-Lockett connection in this one.

My pick: Kansas State 41, Iowa State 13