Iowa State Cyclones

Play Action: Kansas State Wildcats at Iowa State Cyclones

Iowa State hosts Kansas State Saturday night at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames. (The Gazette)
Iowa State hosts Kansas State Saturday night at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames. (The Gazette)

AMES — Iowa State (6-4, 5-3 Big 12) has a chance to bounce back after its first loss in six games against Kansas State (5-6, 3-5 Big 12) on Saturday at Jack Trice Stadium.

Kickoff is 6 p.m., televised on Fox Sports 1.

Kansas State

Kansas State always seems to find its stride every November. The Wildcats may struggle at points during the early part of the season, but once the identity is established, they turn into a different football team.

“The one thing that they do, they know who they are and their foundation,” Iowa State Coach Matt Campbell said. “They haven’t changed since Coach (Bill Snyder) has returned. When that happens — even though you may play some young guys early in the season — by the midpoint of the season and on, you really are comfortable with what your role is. You know what your responsibilities are and you’ve done the same thing over and over again with great repetition.

“Sometimes you get to this time of year and teams are still trying to find themselves. They get to this time of year and they certainly know who they are and they know what their recipe for success looks like and feels like.”

Kansas State’s recipe for success looks a lot like running back Alex Barnes. Barnes has rushed for 1,217 yards and 11 touchdowns. Kanas State, unlike other Big 12 schools, likes to milk the clock and go on long drives if at all possible to limit possessions in the game.

— Because Kansas State runs the ball so much, the Wildcats don’t provide many opportunities for a defense to force turnovers. Kansas State quarterbacks have only thrown seven interceptions this season and the Wildcats have only lost seven fumbles.

“I think for both teams, this is a game where possessions and what you do with those possessions are really important,” Campbell said. “Obviously, when the ball gets switched over in a compromising situation, that’s never a positive. I think two teams that, at least, are very similar in style of play. When those things happen it definitely can be crippling for a team, but I think that’s certainly a key to a game like this, for sure.”

Iowa State

Iowa State was never able to find any sort of a flow last week against Texas — on offense or defense.

That’s Campbell’s No. 1 focus this week.

“We’ve seen now, how many games we’ve played, 10 — when we’re playing good, I think we all know what that looks like and feels like,” Campbell said. “When we’re not playing good, we know what that feels like, too. I really think for this team, there’s a flow. That doesn’t always mean scoring points. That doesn’t always mean three-and-outs on defense. But there’s a flow to how we’re playing, and I think getting into that flow is really important for us. I think all phases, playing together, is the flow that I’m talking about.”

Campbell always has been a big admirer of Snyder. During the Big 12 teleconference on Monday, Snyder reciprocated the admiration, saying almost word-for-word what Campbell says about Snyder.

“I think Matt, I’ve really been proud of what he’s done and how he’s done it,” Snyder said. “He manages his program exceptionally well and he’s just brought it around incrementally and they’ve just gradually gotten better and better.”

Time to address the elephant in the room: Iowa State hasn’t beaten Kansas State in 10 years. It’s something the seniors think about.

They’ve beaten every team in the Big 12 except for Kansas State. Will Saturday finally be the day?

Prediction

Iowa State 27, Kansas State 17

Iowa State’s run defense has been challenged the last couple of weeks, but defensive coordinator Jon Heacock will get that under control.

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