Cyclones face upstart KU in pivotal tilt

Kansas just knocked off its highest-ranked opponent in 15 years, became bowl-eligible a second straight year for only the second time in program history and is in a fifth AP Top 25 over two seasons after not appearing in the rankings since 2009.

The No. 22 Jayhawks would add another item to third-year coach Lance Leipold’s resume if they beat Iowa State on the road Saturday night. It would mark the first time they’ve won consecutive Big 12 games since 2008.

“We need to play better after some of these big wins,” Leipold said. “We have an opportunity where you have to go on the road, play a first-place team. A lot of things are in front of us down the stretch here. Are we just satisfied with bowl eligibility or do we want to be a team that continues to take steps?”

Kansas (6-2, 3-2 Big 12) is coming off its 38-33 win over then-No. 6 Oklahoma, its first against the Sooners since 1997.

Iowa State (5-3, 4-1), picked to finish 10th in the Big 12 in the preseason media poll, has won three straight and sits in a five-way tie for first place. The Cyclones will be going for a fourth win in a row for the first time since 2020, when they reached the Big 12 championship game.

Iowa State coach Matt Campbell said his team has had a steely resolve since last spring, a reference to a state investigation into illegal sports wagering by college athletes that resulted in the suspensions of five projected starters.

“Our program has really been its best when we’ve just worried about what’s going on here and now,” Campbell said. “The whole thing with this group, I think it’s already passed that test in a way, because I think people wrote them off probably in May and they’ve had the ability to just worry about the process that it takes to be successful.”


Leipold provided no clarity to KU’s quarterback situation earlier this week. Jason Bean has started the past four games and six of the eight in place of Jalon Daniels, who has had a back injury. Leipold said Daniels, who dressed for the Oklahoma game but didn’t play, would be the starter if he’s healthy.


One of Iowa State’s priorities will be to keep the Kansas quarterback in check in the run game. Excluding sacks, Bean averages 7.2 yards per carry and Daniels 6.5.

The Cyclones already have faced three of the top five rushing quarterbacks in the Big 12 in Cincinnati’s Emory Jones, TCU’s Chandler Morris and Oklahoma’s Dillon Gabriel. Jones netted the most yards, 72 on 15 carries.

“The only thing that’s beneficial is we’ve played some mobile quarterbacks already this year,” Campbell said, “and you’ve got to hang your hat on some of that.”


Kansas’ Devin Neal and Daniel Hishaw are the top running back tandem in the Power Five with a combined 1,259 yards. Neal has 786 yards and seven touchdowns on 115 attempts and Hishaw has 488 yards and eight touchdowns on 80 carries.


The Cyclones are plus-seven in turnover margin through eight games. They have just seven giveaways, including just one lost fumble. They were minus-seven in 2022.

“Maybe No. 1 when we came back (after last season) is, ‘How do we get ourselves back on the right side of the turnover margin?’ The margin really does say you’re invested in the team — your willingness to take care of the football and doing everything in our power to go get the football,” Campbell said.


Kansas hasn’t won in Ames since 2008 or beaten the Cyclones in consecutive years since winning five in a row from 2005-09. The Jayhawks are 22-26-3 all-time in Ames.

By The Associated Press


No. 22 Kansas goes to Iowa State on Saturday looking to keep pace with the Big 12 leaders. The Jayhawks are a game behind Iowa State and the four other teams tied for the top spot.

The Jayhawks are coming off their upset of then-No. 6 Oklahoma. Iowa State is trying for a fourth straight win for the first time since 2020. Kansas has lost seven straight in Ames since 2008.


Kansas is one game out of first place in the Big 12 and would keep pace with a second straight win over the Cyclones. The Jayhawks, coming off their upset of then-No. 6 Oklahoma, are going for consecutive conference wins for the first time since 2008. Iowa State would remain in a tie for first place if it can post a fourth straight win for the first time since 2020, when it reached the Big 12 title game.


Kansas RBs Devin Neal and Daniel Hishaw vs. Iowa State’s run defense. Neal and Hishaw have combined for more than 1,200 yards and 15 touchdowns and are the top running back combo in the Power Five. They lead a KU ground game averaging over 200 yards per game. The Cyclones are third in the Big 12 in rushing defense and have allowed only two opponents to go over 150 yards.


Kansas: DL Austin Booker is tied for the Big 12 lead with six sacks, including a big one at the KU 20 last week that caused Oklahoma to turn over the ball on downs. Booker had five other stops against the Sooners.

Iowa State: RB Eli Sanders has run for at least 90 yards in two of his last three games and is the Cyclones’ best chance to exploit Kansas’ defensive weakness. Four straight KU foes have run for more than 200 yards.


Kansas has lost seven straight in Ames. … The Cyclones are going for the second 4-1 conference start in program history, and first since 2020. … ISU QB Rocco Becht has thrown at least one TD pass in all eight games and his total of 13 is three off the freshman record by Brock Purdy… ISU would be bowl-eligible for the sixth time in seven years if it wins.