The month of November is one of my favorite months of the entire year. You have Thanksgiving and of course a whole lot of football. While the turkey and dressing may steal the spotlight, for college football fans, this month is known as championship November.
Going into the weekend, there was a five-way tie for first place in the Big 12. On Saturday, there were three big time matchups that were going to clear up the title picture. One of those games was in Ames, Iowa where the first place Iowa State Cyclones were taking on the Kansas Jayhawks. It was a big-time matchup in primetime on ESPN. In the end, Kansas came out on top 28-21. Here are my three thoughts on the game.
Kansas Was Nails
On paper, this was a nightmare game for Kansas coming in. They were on the road in Ames, Iowa at Jack Trice Stadium. Then you throw in the fact that it was a night game on primetime television. It wasn’t going to be easy for this team especially with Jalon Daniels out once again. However, they found a way to get the job done.
With Daniels out, Jason Bean got the start. Bean played a big role in Kansas’ win over Oklahoma last weekend, and he did the same on Saturday night in Ames. Jason finished the game going 14/23 for 287 yards and a touchdown. Anytime this offense needed a big play, Jason made it. In fact, this team went 6/13 on third down and converted their lone fourth down attempt as well.
While the offense was making big plays, so was the defense. They held a hot Iowa State offense to just three points in the first half and had them bottled up until late in the third quarter. The Jayhawks slowed down Iowa State’s run game and really put some pressure on their young quarterback. Also, that pick six was a huge momentum swing early on for Kansas. You can say what you want about this team, but they are a serious Big 12 title contender in my book.
Iowa State Made Mistakes
For the last few weeks, we have seen this Iowa State team play good football. Sure, they started off the season rocky with losses to Iowa and Ohio, but outside of that they have been playing well. The offense was starting to click between the running game and Rocco Becht gaining confidence while the defense was shutting down opposing offenses.
On Saturday night against Kansas, none of those things happened. The Cyclones couldn’t run the football as they averaged just 2.6 yards per rush which put a lot of pressure on Rocco Becht. He ended up finding his rhythm late in the game but by then it was a little too late. Becht also had a pick six in the second quarter that helped give Kansas a 14-0 lead.
Perhaps what was even more surprising for me was the fact that this defense gave up some big plays. They let Kansas convert almost 50% of their third downs and had a few busted coverages in the back end. I know that Jeremiah Cooper was out, but it was still something that shouldn’t have happened. Even when this defense had a chance to give their offense the ball back late, they couldn’t get a stop. We aren’t used to seeing Iowa State’s defense play like this and when you combine that with their early offensive struggles, it wasn’t exactly a recipe for success.
Hello Second Place
With the result of this game, Iowa State now falls to 4-2 in conference play. They are now tied with Kansas, Oklahoma, Kansas State, and West Virginia for second place in the Big 12. The good news for this team is that they still have a shot to get to Arlington. Iowa State will go to Provo next weekend to take on BYU before hosting Texas and traveling to Kansas State. The window is still open for this team.
As for Kansas, they are also tied for second place in the conference, and they still have to face Texas Tech, Kansas State, and Cincinnati. Call me crazy but there is a chance that they can go 3-0 in those final games and finish with a 7-2 record in Big 12 play and get to ten wins this season. I know that both of these teams are now on the outside looking in a bit but grab your popcorn and watch the madness unfold before your very eyes because anything can happen in this conference.