After the conclusion to the Mark Mangino era in Kansas (2-6, 0-5), the Jayhawks have become the punching bag in the Big 12 once again. That’s great news for Iowa State (2-6, 0-5), who seems to rely on it to feel better about themselves. The two worst teams in the conference duke it out to keep nearly impossible bowl berths mathematically alive, and it could be either team’s last chance at a Big 12 victory this season.
Iowa State Cyclones vs Kansas Jayhawks
Memorial Stadium | Lawrence, Kansas
Saturday, November 8th, 2014 | Kickoff – 2:30 PM CT
TV: Fox Sports Networks* | Web: Fox Sports Go
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Mangino, now Iowa State’s offensive coordinator, doesn’t really give a damn anymore about what happened at Kansas. It was an absolute thrill taking one of the nation’s worst football programs and instantly turning them into a BCS contender, but then things got ugly fast when players accused him of misconduct “with boorish and violent actions.”
There’s no question that Mangino had a temper in his past. He was beside himself when the university kept giving him parking tickets back in 2007. He chewed out and cursed at Raimond Pendleton for celebrating on a punt return for a touchdown. But finally, in November 2009, the university had its own investigation and eventually bought out Mangino’s contract a few months later.
Oct 11, 2014; Ames, IA, USA; Iowa State Cyclones assistant coach Mark Mangino looks over the field prior to the game against the Toledo Rockets at Jack Trice Stadium. Iowa State defeated Toledo 37-30. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports
Throughout this week, Mangino has downplayed his return to Kansas. It was a fun ride, but he’s clearly over it after how it all fell apart. The Jayhawks have since gone through two head coaches. And you can bet that the big guy would love to throw another log onto the fire.
Iowa State is 38-49-6 all-time against Kansas dating back into the Big 8 years. They were no match for Mangino’s squad, losing five straight between 2005-2009. Three of those losses were only by five points or better.
Since then, the Cyclones have won four straight and have won the last two contests by an average margin of 31 points.
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What to watch for
The offense is really abysmal for Kansas. Take away their FCS game, and they’ve scored 13.7 points per game. That’s tragic. Things have improved after the firing of Charlie Weis and putting in Michael Cummings instead of Montell Cozart under center, but there’s still a lot of work to be done. They kept things competitive with Oklahoma State and Texas Tech before getting bulldozed with a sense of reality by Baylor.
Nov 1, 2014; Ames, IA, USA; Iowa State Cyclones quarterback Sam Richardson (12) drops back in the pocket against the Oklahoma Sooners at Jack Trice Stadium. Oklahoma defeated Iowa State 59-14. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports
Iowa State’s defense needs to find a way to get it together. From the second half of the Oklahoma State game onward, they’ve completely lost their way from the first part of the season. Injuries have plagued the unit, and it doesn’t help that they lose their best tackler in Jevohn Miller, but they have enough depth and overall talent to shut some opponents down. And sure, they’ll get worked against the better teams like Oklahoma and Baylor, but to give up over 750 yards in one game? Embarrassing.
Kansas’ offense isn’t the only abysmal offense on the field, either. Iowa State’s is only ranked 103rd overall and that’s because the running game has been mostly non-existent. Somehow, the Cyclones need to recreate the success from Toledo and Texas. Whether Sam B. Richardson needs to pass first or the offensive line needs to open those holes and get the running backs in a good position to gain some yards — whatever it takes to keep this offense on the field.
Also, it’ll be interesting to see how much Iowa State goes up-tempo. They stayed the course last week and it ended up absolutely killing the defense. If it works, it’s a moot point, but if not, I’d expect them to press the eject button.
Let’s not overthink this. I know that the football team has gone back to square one after getting ran over by Oklahoma, and no one is as pissed about it as the team and the players that set foot on the field. This is still Kansas, a team that fired their coach after a handful of games into the season, went through a quarterback change, and has lost their last five games. They’ll lose their fifth straight against the Cyclones as Sam Richardson and the offense clicks on all cylinders and gets their first win of the Big 12 season.
Iowa State 34, Kansas 21