In the last two weeks, the Iowa State football team has been outscored 129-34 in a pair of blowout losses.
Sporting just one win through seven games, most wouldn’t think the Cyclones present much of a threat when they make the trip to Bill Snyder Family Stadium for another installment of Farmageddon.
But Kansas State, needing every win it can find if it hopes to make a bowl game, is not overlooking anybody.
“They’re a very physical, fundamentally sound football team,” center B.J. Finney said. “Their 1-6 record doesn’t reflect the kind of team they are.”
Ask K-State head coach Bill Snyder what he sees when he examines the Cyclones, and he’ll point to their improvement.
“I think you take the Baylor game and throw it away, and look at the rest of it, and you just see them get better and better and better,” Snyder said. “They’ve had some injuries that have slowed that down a bit, but when they’re all intact, I think you see that improvement. They’ve gotten more and more experience in the system, which allows them to play with a little more freedom.”
A closer look at their record indicates Snyder might be on to something. The Cyclones have lost four games this year by a touchdown or less, including a controversial home loss to Texas with a wild ending that could have gone either way.
Sam Richardson at quarterback has thrown for more than 1,300 yards and 11 touchdowns this season, while running back Aaron Wimberly, who missed the entire Oklahoma State game with an injury, leads the team on the ground with 388 yards and a pair of TDs.
He was listed as day-to-day at the start of the week.
In recent matchups, games between K-State and Iowa State have been mostly defensive battles decided by a touchdown or less. But this year, the Cyclones have the league’s worst scoring defense, giving up an average of 39.7 points per game. Part of the issue is an inflated score line against Baylor, but other teams, including K-State, have slowed down the Bears.
Iowa State is last in the league against both the run and the pass, but either way, Snyder thinks the Cyclones’ defense will make things tough for his offense.
“I think Wally (Burnham) does a great job coordinating that defense, and he puts them in such sound and solid schemes — there are no gifts,” Snyder said. “There’s nothing there that you say ‘wow, that’s a weakness, we can attack that.’
“They make you execute your offense, in other words, in order to have successful snaps against them, everybody has to do exactly what it is they’re supposed to do.”
On the other side of the coin, Iowa State Paul Rhoads expects K-State’s defense to shine.
“They’re very sound in their approach — this is not a defense that’s going to be gambling,” Rhoads said. “They’re going to take away your strengths, they’re going to line up to do that. So you’re going to have to manufacture some things as well. And quite honestly, that’s not something we’ve done well to this point.”
Regardless of who is playing quarterback for K-State on Saturday, Rhoads said the goal is to stop the Wildcats on the ground first.
“You’ve got to understand your situations, run and pass downs, but that’s the first thing you’ve got to stop, is running,” Rhoads said. “You put kids in exact places or proximity to defend the run. And then you’ve got to make it a priority as a player and then assignment-wise and technique-wise, execute properly.”