Kickoff: 11 a.m. Saturday
Where: Booth Memorial Stadium, Lawrence
TV: Fox Sports KC
Radio: WHB (810 AM) in Kansas City, KFH (1240 AM) in Wichita
The line: Iowa State by 15 1/2
When looking at this game, a number of small factors seem to be nudging me toward a comfortable Iowa State victory.
KU actually has regressed defensively over the past few weeks, falling to 96th in Bill Connelly’s S&P+ rankings after ascending as high as 38th earlier this season. The Jayhawks down-by-down numbers have gotten significantly worse, and while the team deserves credit for a goal-line stand and late recovery of a butt fumble against TCU, it’d be much easier to believe in a defense if it was holding its own more consistently instead of simply coming through in the clutch.
Offensively, KU was much better last week, but the Jayhawks also made the absolute most of their yards by thriving on third downs. Quarterback Peyton Bender had the game of his KU career — a performance that will be tough to replicate — while the Jayhawks should have a tougher time freeing up running back Pooka Williams on pass routes after he had seven receptions for 102 yards.
Iowa State has a few other things going for it as well. Quarterback Brock Purdy has been king of the big play, and KU’s defense struggled earlier this season against a similar-type playmaker in Baylor’s Charlie Brewer. The Cyclones also could have a home-field advantage of sorts in Lawrence; KU fan apathy combined with Iowa State’s reputation for traveling well is likely to result in about a 50-50 attendance split at Booth Memorial Stadium.
There’s always the possibility KU’s defense creates a few turnovers and makes this close. The Cyclones haven’t been mistake prone to this point, though, and if they can avoid big gaffes, I don’t see a reason why their small advantages can’t add up to a multiple-score win.
Iowa State 37, KU 14