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3 keys, prediction for Iowa State football against Kansas State
Cyclones have to finish drives to get first Big 12 win
Iowa State (3-2, 0-2) hosts No. 20 Kansas State (4-1, 2-0) on Saturday, looking for its first Big 12 football victory. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. (ESPNU).
Here are three keys to victory for the Cyclones.
1. Finish drives
The Cyclones nimbly moved the ball in last week’s 14-11 loss at No. 19 Kansas, but produced just one touchdown and one field goal in four tries.
ISU — generally solid on third downs this season — went 5-for-18 in that category against the Jayhawks and must be better on Saturday to have a chance to beat 20th-ranked Kansas State.
The Cyclones have also struggled in red-zone situations, scoring on just 17 of 22 trips inside opponents’ 20-yard line. ISU is tied for 98th nationally in red-zone touchdown percentage at 54.55 percent.
2. Clamp down on Adrian Martinez
Kansas State quarterback Adrian Martinez should already be considered the top contender for the Mayo Clinic Comeback Player of the Year award, but not because he didn’t post some impressive numbers as Nebraska’s quarterback.
He did. But the 6-foot-3, 225-pound veteran has been compiling far more impressive numbers with the Wildcats — and winning games, to boot. Martinez has rushed for nine touchdowns and thrown for three more. His combination of speed and power has made him the ideal complement to All-America tailback Deuce Vaughn, forming a one-two punch in the running game that can be matched by few, if any, teams in college football.
Tulane — when handing Kansas State its only loss three weeks ago — did contain both Vaughn and Martinez, so there’s video available that ISU most certainly studied carefully.
3. Find ways to revive the running game
Breece Hall — who’s now pushing to be the New York Jets’ featured back — spoiled the Cyclones with his ability to be consistently explosive and relatively healthy over two straight consensus first-team All-America seasons.
His primary backup during that span, Jirehl Brock, has performed well as a runner, pass catcher and pass blocker this season, but an injury sustained early in the Kansas loss could keep him out of Saturday’s game. Same goes for his backup, true freshman Cartevious Norton, who has battled injuries all season. That means Deon Silas and Eli Sanders — as well as quarterback Hunter Dekkers, perhaps — must be able to produce on the ground against a Wildcats team that’s been vulnerable against the run at times.
ISU could get creative to spark better results in the run game as well — anything to avoid being one-dimensional on offense for the third straight week in Big 12 play.
What’s at stake
It’s obvious. Falling to 0-3 in conference play would be disastrous — as would dropping a second straight game at Jack Trice Stadium.
The Cyclones had won 11 consecutive league games at home before the 31-24 setback to Baylor two weeks ago and a return to form is imperative if ISU is to once again be a top-five team in the Big 12. Plus bragging rights in the so-called “Farmageddon” game are at stake — and the Cyclones have won three of the past four meetings with Kansas State.
The so-called “Vampire” lives. Sort of. That moniker has been widely used to refer to former Wildcats head coach Bill Snyder, who brought the program back from the dead, so to speak, in two stints that spanned 29 seasons.
That’s because one of his best quarterbacks, Collin Klein, is now the offensive coordinator for Kansas State after spending five seasons as exclusively the quarterbacks coach. His protege, Nebraska refugee Adrian Martinez, is doing Klein-esque things, but he’s yet to meet a defense as strong as the Cyclones.
Iowa State 27, Kansas State 21