Kansas welcomed in Iowa State on Saturday with the Jayhawks coming into Week 5 as one of the best stories on college football this season. KU came into the game 4-0 for the first time since 2009 and just outside the AP Top 25. Meantime, Iowa State began the day 3-1 following a loss to Baylor at home last week to begin Big 12 Conference play.
These two teams showed up defensively, but it was Kansas who made fewer mistakes, especially when it comes to special teams (more on that below), as the Jayhawks won the game 14-11 at home. Kansas’ offense didn’t have it going today, as they came in averaging 48 points per game and over 400 yards of offense per game. They were outgained by 100 yards (313-213), but were able to pull off the victory.
Here are three thoughts on the game.
1. Kansas’ Defense Makes Huge Strides
If you had told me before the game that Kansas would only score 14 points, I would have said they’d lose by potentially double digits. As good as the offense has been, the defense has been that mediocre thus far. Coming into this game, KU had given up the second-most points per game in the Big 12 and the most yards per game in the Big 12.
But on Saturday against Iowa State, Kansas held Iowa State to just 26 rushing yards on 30 carries, good for .9 yards per carry. KU also won the turnover battle 2-1 with an interception and fumble recovery on the afternoon. Also, KU was one official review from two interceptions and a 3-1 margin in the turnover department.
2. Iowa State’s Special Teams Disaster
Three missed field goals. The muffed punt with 10 minutes left in the game. It was a mess for Iowa State in the special teams department. Even though the muffed punt didn’t lead to points, it was just a bad day overall for this unit.
The first two missed field goals hit the upright, while the third miss from Jace Gilbert from 37 yards would have tied the game in the final minute of regulation and and was not even close (wide left).
Also of note, Kansas punter Reid Vernon had six punts and three landed inside the 20-yard line. In a game like this, field position played a huge role.
In a Big 12 Conference that is absolutely loaded top to bottom, these are the little things that are going to win or lose Iowa State (and every team for that matter) games this season. Iowa State has had issues with special teams for years, but this time they can’t blame it on not having a special teams coach, as they finally hired one this offseason.
3. Hello, College GameDay?
As of this writing, no decision has been made from ESPN on where College GameDay will go in Week 6. But already, the lobbying has rightfully begun for the popular pre-game show to come to Lawrence, Kansas next week where 5-0 Kansas hosts 4-0 TCU.
Yep. College GameDay must do the right thing and come cover the best story in college football this season. If not, the Big 12 bias is even worse than I thought.