Rock. Chalk. Smack talk.
Kansas played — and spoke — with swagger Saturday against Iowa State and the scoreboard reflected the long-suffering Jayhawks’ confidence.
The not-even-close final: Kansas 34, the Cyclones 14 in Lawrence.
The Jayhawks (3-6, 1-5) led 24-0 before ISU showed any signs of life and finally won their first Big 12 game of the season. They’ve won two league games in the past four seasons — and had lost four straight in the series.
The Cyclones (2-7, 0-6) started Grant Rohach at quarterback in place of the injured Sam Richardson and became the lone winless team in conference play.
Kansas flexed its muscles immediately, driving 81 yards on 12 plays in 5:39 to take a 7-0 lead on Corey Avery’s 14-yard tackler-shedding run.
ISU answered with its first of three consecutive three and outs.
The Jayhawks took full advantage of each, taking a 14-0 lead on Michael Cummings 20-yard pass to Jimmay Mundine and tacking on three more points on a 35-yard field goal.
By the first quarter’s end, Kansas led 17-0.
It would get worse.
The Jayhawks, who scored on four of their first five possessions, went ahead 24-0 on Tony Pierson’s 6-yard touchdown run with five in a half minutes left in the first half. The drive that preceded Pierson’s touchdown spanned 91 yards, but included only two third-down conversions, since six plays spanned eight yards or more.
Finally, the Cyclones fought back.
ISU scored its first points on Rohach’s 3-yard touchdown toss to E.J. Bibbs and trailed 24-7 at halftime.
A brief second-half surge followed.
The Cyclones dusted off the running game to open the third quarter with a hope-restoring four-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that took just 1:07. Aaron Wimberly rushed for 13, 20 and seven yards to begin the possession, then Rohach connected with D’Vario Montgomery for a 35-yard scoring strike.
Suddenly, it was 24-14 and ISU had wrested away the Jayhawks’ momentum. A fourth down defensive stop kept it going and the Cyclones then drove 52 yards to the Kansas 19 before stalling.
In came steady kicker Cole Netten, who entered the game 8-for-8 on field goals. But his 37-yard attempt missed and the Jayhawks marched 80 yards on 14 plays to go up 31-14 with 2:45 left in the third quarter.
ISU twice drove inside the Kansas 10 after falling behind 34-14, but failed on fourth down conversion tries each time.
Rohach completed 25 of 50 passes for 275 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He also lost a fumble. Wimberly rushed for 97 yards on 15 carries and Montgomery caught eight passes for 130 yards and a touchdown. Allen Lazard added five catches for 70 yards.
The Cyclones, who are off next week, will continue their quest for that elusive first Big 12 victory Nov. 22 when Texas Tech comes to Ames.