Iowa State leads the series 52-49-4
Current streak: Iowa State, two in a row
Last matchup: Iowa State, 33-20, W @ Kansas State (2021)
When Iowa State and KSU take the field on Saturday night, the Cyclone defense will be tasked with stopping a similar attack to the Wildcats’ in-state rivals.
With a quarterback in Adrian Martinez that is proficient in rushing and a running back in Deuce Vaughn that compares well with the top stars at his position, K-State will have plenty to throw at the Cyclone defense.
However, that unit showed itself in the 14-11 loss to Kansas. Kansas was only able to muster 52 yards of offense in the second half of the game.
In fact, Iowa State is second in the nation in second-half defense, allowing just 95.6 yards per game in the final pair of quarters. That’s a testament to defensive coordinator Jon Heacock’s methods and ability to make in-game adjustments.
Likewise, that will come up big in stopping the pair of dynamic ground games coming to Jack Trice Stadium.
In the Wildcats’ only loss, which came to Tulane in its final non-conference game of the season, both Vaughn and Martinez were held to under 100 yards rushing.
In every other game, all four of them coming as K-State wins, at least one of the two has gone over the century mark. Not to mention, each of them finished with over 100 yards rushing in the last two games in wins over Oklahoma and Texas Tech.
Stopping that attack – like the defense did against Kansas will be key.
The Cyclone offense should have its best chance of succeeding in Big 12 play so far, though.
Kansas State’s defense plays a similar system to Iowa State and is giving up 370.2 yards per game through five games on the field – that’s ranked 68th in the nation.
With a new starting quarterback in Hunter Dekkers and the growing pains that come in the adjustment to the game, Saturday will give the young pass-thrower some familiarity.
Of course, that still comes with execution.
Defensive end Felix Anudike-Uzomah sits in the top-five nationally in sacks, collecting 5.5 on the year already. Keeping him away from Dekkers, who was sacked five times last week, will be a factor in this one as well.
There might not be a bigger factor playing into this game than the Iowa State running back room, though.
Whether or not Jirehl Brock or Cartevious Norton plays will directly impact the offensive scheme. If they don’t, can the Cyclones muster more than 29 yards on the ground with any single player?
There will be a lot of questions answered when the teams take the field, like most games played at the FBS level. This one might determine if the Cyclones are contenders this year or not.