2-Minute Drill: No. 15 Oklahoma State at No. 21 Iowa State

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Breaking down Saturday’s Big 12 football game between No. 21 Iowa State and No. 15 Oklahoma State at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames. Kickoff is 11 a.m., televised on ABC or ESPN2.

Iowa State rush offense vs. Oklahoma State rush defense

Statistically, Iowa State has the worst rush offense in the Big 12. The numbers don’t tell the whole truth, but it’s eye opening that Iowa State is averaging 111 yards, three fewer yards per game than Kansas. Even though Iowa State has the worst rush offense, it does have the second-best rusher in the Big 12 in David Montgomery, who averages 92 yards to go along with eight touchdowns.

Iowa State’s rushing problems lie beyond Montgomery. The Cyclones don’t have a true second back with Mike Warren and Kene Nwangu both injured. Iowa State’s offensive line also has had some injuries lately, so holes for Montgomery might be even harder to come by.

Oklahoma State’s rush defense isn’t bad but it’s nothing to write home about, either. It’s a classic middle of the road rush defense. The Cowboys give up 132 yards on the ground per game, which is fourth in the conference.

Advantage: Oklahoma State

Iowa State pass offense vs. Oklahoma State pass defense

Iowa State’s receivers seem to be indefensible at times. Allen Lazard is 6-foot-5, Hakeem Butler is 6-6, Matt Eaton is 6-4 and Marchie Murdock is 6-1.

Quarterback Kyle Kempt has done a good job in recent weeks throwing down the sideline to his big receivers, most notably in the win over TCU. If offensive coordinator Tom Manning can find a balance between passes down the sideline to his big targets and the underneath routes to Trever Ryen and Deshaunte Jones, Iowa State could have a lot of success through the air.

The Cowboys allow 273 yards, which is seventh in the Big 12. But their defense is opportunistic. Cornerback Ramon Richards and Tre Flowers have each broken up seven passes and A.J. Green has three interceptions.

If Kempt can control the offense and not force passes, Iowa State should be able to move the ball through the air.

Advantage: Iowa State

Iowa State rush defense vs. Oklahoma State rush offense

Iowa State Coach Matt Campbell said this week Oklahoma State have the most complete offense in the Big 12. The statistics back that up.

On the ground, the Cowboys average 200 yards, good for second in the Big 12. They’re led by running back Justice Hill, who leads the conference in rushing, averaging 118 yards. Behind Hill is J.D. King who averages five yards per carry.

Iowa State’s stout run defense, which ranks second in the Big 12, will be put to the test. Last week against West Virginia, defensive tackle Ray Lima missed a few snaps with an injury. His absence was noticeable. Lima needs to stay on the field for Iowa State’s run defense to have success.

Behind Lima, Iowa State’s linebackers need to find the hole and hit it as hard as Hill will. Joel Lanning, Marcel Spears and Willie Harvey have done an excellent job stuffing runs at the line of scrimmage this season. They’ll be put to the test in this game.

Advantage: Oklahoma State

Iowa State pass defense vs. Oklahoma State pass offense

Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph is a “Roboquarterback.” At least that’s what Campbell called him.

Rudolph can make every throw on the field. He throws one of the best deep balls in the country, he can throw intermediate routes and he has the touch to throw the underneath routes. Stopping the Cowboy passing attack is not easy.

James Washington is one of many dangerous Cowboy receivers. Washington averages 22 yards per reception and has nine touchdowns, including an 86-yard touchdown reception.

Iowa State has been mostly excellent defending the deep ball this season, but the secondary did get burned twice against West Virginia. The Cyclones can’t let that happen again against the Cowboys. Iowa State needs to keep everyone and everything in front of it. Oklahoma State is going to be able to move the ball, Iowa State just needs to buckle down in key third down situations.

Advantage: Oklahoma State

Special teams

The special teams are pretty even across the board. Iowa State punter Colin Downing and Oklahoma State punter Zach Sinor average 42 yards per punt. Downing has 14 more punts downed inside the 20-yard line, but also has twice as many punts.

Oklahoma State’s Matt Ammendola has made 13 field goals while Iowa State’s Garrett Owens has made 12. However, Owens makes 75 percent of his field goals while Ammendola makes 68 percent of his.

Punt return is where the Cyclones have a clear edge. Trever Ryen averages 14 yards per return, which is 12th nationally. Ryen has a touchdown and a 40-yard return against West Virginia last week. Cowboys returner Dillon Stoner averages just eight yards a return and has a long of 20 yards.

Advantage: Iowa State

Intangibles

1. Closing in — David Montgomery needs 169 yards to break the 1,000-yard barrier. He would be the first Iowa State running back since Mike Warren in 2015 to rush for more than 1,000 yards.

2. Lazard watch — Allen Lazard has more receiving records in view. The star receiver needs 151 yards to become Iowa State’s all-time receiving yardage leader.

3. Iowa State leads the Big 12 in turnover margin at plus-10, while Oklahoma State is tied for sixth. The Cowboys are turnover prone, surrendering 19 fumbles and interceptions, which is tied for the most in the Big 12 with Kansas.

 

3 and out

Three keys to an Iowa State victory.

1. Take care of the ball — While the Cowboys do turn the ball over, they take it right back. They lead the Big 12 in turnovers forced with 19, one more than Iowa State.

2. Montgomery in space — Iowa State’s offensive line is pieced together right now, so allow fullback Sam Seonbuchner and Iowa State’s receivers to do the blocking on the second level so Montgomery has room to run.

3. Limit the deep pass — Rudolph is an elite deep-ball quarterback. Iowa State will likely use its three-safety look to counter his arm. They need to keep everything in front of them.

Iowa State-Oklahoma State prediction

Iowa State will win if ... It has success on third down on both sides of the ball. The offense needs to stay on the field as long as possible because that means Rudolph can’t be on the field. On defense, Iowa State needs to take advantage of every third down situation that presents itself.

Oklahoma State will win if ... The deep ball is working. The Cyclones can’t afford to let Rudolph sling it around the field because that’ll open things up for the equally dangerous Hill.

Prediction: Oklahoma State 34, Iowa State 31

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