Ames, Iowa — The 22nd-ranked Kansas football team picked up a huge road win at Iowa State on Saturday night, leading from start to finish to pick up their first win at Jack Trice Stadium in 15 years.
The win, which guaranteed the Jayhawks a winning record this season, moved KU to 7-2 overall and 4-2 in Big 12 play. The Jayhawks are now just one game behind Texas and Oklahoma State for first place in the conference with three games to play.
Iowa State, meanwhile, saw its three-game winning streak snapped and fell to 5-4 overall and 4-2 in Big 12 play.
KU is tied with Iowa State, Oklahoma and Kansas State for second place, but the Jayhawks have wins over ISU and OU and still have K-State coming to Lawrence in two weeks.
There’ll be much more from this game later tonight. But for now, a quick look at some of the “Moments that Popped” in one of the more impressive wins for the Jayhawks away from home in years.
• Q Skinner strikes (again): A lot has been made this season about Lawrence Arnold’s stellar play — rightfully so — but fellow-KU wideout Quentin Skinner has really started to come on in recent weeks, too. His big time game in a loss at Oklahoma State was the start of it. He made a couple of big plays in last week’s upset win over Oklahoma in Lawrence last week, none bigger than his heads-up grab of a tipped ball after he had gone out of bounds. And then he made a couple of big grabs in Saturday night’s win, with his long of 31 yards setting the tone early and a wild, falling-backwards catch down the sideline in the second half coming at a critical time as the Jayhawks started to have trouble moving the ball.
• Bean on the money: KU quarterback Jason Bean is not always the most dangerous passer, but he sure has moments that flash. One of those came on Saturday night in Ames, when he threw a dime to Luke Grimm on 3rd and 8 late in the first quarter for a first down. That was an NFL throw on the out route and one that shows just how high the ceiling still is for this KU offense. The KU QB finished the first half 8-of-15 for 119 yards and finished the game 14-of-23 for 287 and 1 TD. He had a few moments where he misfired on throws, too, most notably a third-down throw to an open Daniel Hishaw Jr. near the goal line that sailed out of bounds.
• Another 4th down conversion: After opening the game with a three-and-out on defense, the Kansas offense marched 87 yards in nine plays to take a 7-0 lead. The drive featured another clutch fourth down conversion on a pass by Jason Bean to Lawrence Arnold on 4th and 6 from the Iowa State 34-yard line. It was a great call by KU to go for it — punting probably nets you very little and gives a hint of momentum back to Iowa State — and another clutch play by Arnold, who continues to make big play after big play. Bean completed three passes for better than 20 yards (31, 21 and 21) to three different receivers on the Jayhawks’ opening drive.
• Fast start: The Jayhawks’ start was nearly perfect in this one, and it went a long way toward keeping the typically raucous Iowa State crowd out of it for nearly three full quarters. KU’s defense forced a three-and-out to open the game and the offense scored on its first drive. The D, which at times looked dominant up front, held ISU off the scoreboard until the final seconds of the first half and the offense took leads of 14-0 and 21-3 before Iowa State showed any signs of life. Considering KU’s recent starts in conference road games over the past couple of seasons, this was about as good as it gets.
• Kicking woes: KU missed a pair of field goals in the first half of this game — one by Seth Keller from 42 yards and another by Owen Piepergerdes from 50 yards late in the first half. The first one came up short and likely directly impacted KU’s decision to let Piepergerdes take a crack at the second one. It had plenty of leg but missed wide left. The result of the miss left Iowa State with time to march down the field before the end of the first half to get three points of its own.
• Injury issues: This wasn’t the friendliest of games in terms of the injury bug for the visiting team. KU saw several key players go down during this one. While most of them stayed in the game or returned quickly, cornerback Mello Dotson did not. After staying down on the grass following a play late in the first half, Dotson went straight to the locker room a little earlier than his teammates and did not appear to come back out with the team for the second half. Cobee Bryant, Rich Miller and Daniel Hishaw Jr. were the other Jayhawks who were slowed up temporarily in this one for one reason or another. Later in the game, Jason Bean himself went down with what, at least for a moment, looked like a scary situation. But after freshman backup Cole Ballard came in for one play — a handoff — Bean came back onto the field for the next play.
• Jalon Daniels stays home: Injured KU quarterback Jalon Daniels did not make the trip to Ames for this one, but KU officials said before the game that it was more of a team decision to keep him in Lawrence and did not reflect anything about his status or the back injury that has plagued him. After the game, KU coach Lance Leipold elaborated a little more: “He didn’t practice during the week and (we made a decision that) it’s best that we just give him a chance (to rest) and this is a bus trip for us. With all those things and where he’s at, through the advice or our medical people it was in the best interest for him.”
“Again, he stays positive. We’re awfully optimistic about that," Leipold added. "So I can answer the question: He’s not redshirting and everything else that may be out there. That’s about what I’ve got for you today.”
• Lies, lies, lies: Remember earlier this week when KU offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki was asked about the Wildcat package that KU used a lot — and effectively — against Oklahoma last week? Kotelnicki made it sound an awful lot like that was a one-week thing and that the matchup with the Sooners made it appealing. Then, in the first quarter of Saturday’s game with the Cyclones, Devin Neal lined up in the Wildcat formation and took the direct snap in for a touchdown to give KU a 7-0 lead. Neal took a couple more Wildcat snaps before the game was over, but, clearly, the idea that the Jayhawks were done with that formation was a bit of gamesmanship by Kotelnicki, who continues to make this KU offense tough to prepare for and often tough to stop. Perhaps most importantly, Kotelnicki did note that the Jayhawks do not have a specific name for the “Wildcat” package, only a personnel grouping that’s used to call it in.
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