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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 17, 7 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Memorial Stadium (50,071) -- Lawrence, Kansas. Television: FSN. Home Record: ISU 3-3, KU 1-4. Away Record: ISU 2-2, KU 0-5. Neutral Record: ISU 0-0, KU 0-0. Conference Record: ISU 2-5, KU 0-7. Series Record: KU leads, 49-36-6.
GAME NOTES: The Iowa State Cyclones will try to become bowl eligible with a win over the Kansas Jayhawks when the two meet up for a Big 12 clash at Memorial Stadium.
Iowa State has been one win shy of qualifying for postseason play for a few weeks now, as the team has dropped two straight and four of its last five outings overall. The last two losses came against 13th-ranked Oklahoma two weekends ago (35-20) and at No. 18 Texas this past week (33-7). If the Cyclones cannot notch that sixth win at Kansas, they'll get one more shot in the regular-season finale against West Virginia next week in Ames.
Kansas has lost nine in a row since its season-opening win against South Dakota State, a Football Championship Subdivision school. In fact, the Jayhawks have lost 19 straight Big 12 games, and their last victory over an opponent from the Football Bowl Subdivision came against Northern Illinois last September, a span of 20 games. The Jayhawks went on the road this past Saturday and took 23rd-ranked Texas Tech to double-overtime, only to lose, 41-34.
KU holds a 49-36-6 lead in the all-time series and has won four in a row against Iowa State in Lawrence. The Cyclones have won the last two meetings, but both of those meetings took place in Ames.
The Cyclones enter the weekend ranked last in the Big 12 in total offense (352.2 ypg) and next-to-last in scoring offense (22.7 ppg). Against Texas last week, their only points came on a touchdown pass in the final minute of the first half, after the Longhorns had already built a 20-0 lead. Steel Jantz finished the day 15-of-29 for only 133 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. It was his second straight game being held below 200 yards passing after posting a career-high 381 yards and a school-record tying five touchdowns in a win over Baylor. Shontrelle Johnson added 57 yards on the ground in Saturday's loss.
On the other side of the ball, Iowa State allowed Texas to rack up 609 yards of total offense with equal effectiveness on the ground as through the air. Linebacker A.J. Klein, the reigning Big 12 co-defensive player of the year, is still causing havoc. However, the defense has played the last two games without fellow linebacker Jake Knott, who underwent season-ending shoulder surgery following the Baylor game. Knott was a First-Team All-Big 12 pick and a two-year captain, and his absence creates a major void in the heart of the Cyclones defense. It has also put added pressure on other key players such as strong safety Durrell Givins, who is tied for the national lead with eight takeaways (five fumble recoveries and three interceptions). Givins collected a game-high 11 tackles against the Longhorns.
For all of the Jayhawks' shortcomings, one thing they can do well is run the ball. The team enters the weekend ranked second in the conference and 21st nationally in rushing offense, averaging 213.1 ypg on the ground. Tony Pierson had 202 yards on 16 carries to pace a KU rushing game that netted 390 yards at Texas Tech, its highest total ever in Big 12 play. James Sims had 30 carries for 127 yards and two touchdowns to become the first Kansas running back ever to rush for more than 100 yards in six consecutive games. However, Michael Cummings threw for just 29 yards with two touchdowns on 6-of-15 accuracy in the loss. The lack of a legitimate passing game has been a season-long trend, as KU ranks 112th in the nation in passing offense (147.8 ypg) and, consequently, ranks 112th in scoring (18.6 ppg).
KU's defense has had a tendency to give up points in bunches. After limiting Texas to 21 points a few weeks ago, the Jayhawks have surrendered 41 points in each of their last two games. Two other opponents have eclipsed 50 points against the Jayhawks this season, as KU sits at eighth in the Big 12 in both scoring defense (32.3 ppg) and total defense (458.7 ypg). Still, the defense was able to settle down last week and give the team a chance to win. After the Red Raiders took a 21-7 lead on a six-yard touchdown pass at the 12:20 mark of the second quarter, they were held out of the end zone for the rest of regulation. However, TTU came away with touchdowns on both of its overtime possessions to win it.
Kansas has actually played well for stretches throughout the season, although those stretches have been few and far between. Look for Iowa State to take care of business on the road and get that sixth win to qualify for the postseason.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Iowa State 27, Kansas 17
11/14 10:34:23 ET