The Kansas football team continued its roll over the weekend, when it traveled north to Ames, Iowa and won there for the first time in 15 years.
22nd-ranked KU, which moved up to No. 19 in Sunday’s latest AP Top 25, jumped out to a 14-0 lead over Iowa State and then held on to win 28-21, thanks to some clutch plays by several players on both sides of the ball.
Such has become the norm for this KU team, which is balanced, deep and suddenly brimming with confidence at 7-2 overall and 4-2 in Big 12 play, just one game out of first place in the conference with three games to play. Much more on that throughout the week, as KU prepares to take on Texas Tech at home at 11 a.m. Saturday.
For now, these are your weekly Wheaties.
You’ve seen the tomahawks on the back of the Florida State helmets, the buckeye tree leaves on the Ohio State helmets and the paw prints on the back of the Clemson helmets.
Each Monday, after every KU football game, we take one last look back at the game that was and hand out different amounts of the iconic breakfast cereal to the Jayhawks’ top performers.
So, be sure to come get your Monday morning Wheaties and feel free to hit up the comments section — subscribers only for now — with any players you feel we might’ve missed.
Picture on the box
• Senior quarterback Jason Bean – There were a few candidates for this spot this week, but it’s time it went to Bean, who has been nothing short of outstanding for the Jayhawks this season. As KU coach Lance Leipold said after the victory, there was nothing on the stat sheet that Bean did that jumps out at you, but he was so steady, so solid and came up clutch in the biggest moments yet again. He made a couple of huge throws on fourth down and a couple of NFL-type throws to pick up first downs. It’s been a wild ride for Bean, both throughout college and during his time as a Jayhawk. But I can’t recall ever seeing someone so comfortable in their own skin and so universally respected by his teammates and coaches. Even the KU fan base is starting to give Bean the love he so clearly deserves. In fact, there was a funny Jason Bean Apology Form that made its way around Twitter after Saturday’s win. Jalon Daniels’ back and status will continue to be a story through the remainer of the season, but I’m not so sure it should. This is Bean’s team and both he and his teammates have proven that that’s a damn good thing.
A full bowl
• Junior cornerback Mello Dotson – Back-to-back weeks with a pick-6? Come on. That’s just craziness. And yet there was Mello taking it to the house after picking off a pass at mid-field in the second quarter of Saturday’s win to give the Jayhawks a 14-0 lead. Dotson left the game with some kind of injury and did not return. So, the questions about his availability for this coming week are pretty important. No one is playing with as much confidence as Dotson right now and, if you know the guy, you can’t help but feel great about that for him. He’s a humble dude, who, like Bean, is universally loved on this team for the way he shows up ready to work with a smile on his face each and every day.
• Junior wide receiver Lawrence Arnold – LJ’s 80-yard TD catch that basically clinched the game for Kansas was probably the single biggest play in this game. The fact that he wanted to talk first about his drop a little earlier in the game tells you everything you need to know about where Arnold’s head is at. It’s team over I with this guy and his favorite part about that touchdown was not that he had all eyes on him and got to be the hero but rather that it helped deliver the win for him and his teammates. Arnold finished with 112 yards on three catches, none of them bigger than that one. For the year, he’s now up to 515 yards on 31 receptions — both tops on the team.
• Junior wide receiver Quentin Skinner – This dude is starting to flash every week with some kind of big play. And it’s usually pretty far down the field when it comes. Skinner made two of them in this game, but none was more impressive than the play that wound up being No. 2 on the day on SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays list. With Bean running out of time — and room — he threw the ball toward Skinner along the Iowa State sideline, simply throwing it up and giving his guy a chance to make a play. Bean said after the game that he trusts his wideouts “with my life” and he always wants to give them a chance to win on a ball. The fact that Skinner was able to on this one — in double coverage, falling backwards, while having to negotiate the sideline, too — was just remarkable. Great catch. Great chemistry. Great news for Kansas.
• Defensive linemen Caleb Taylor, Gage Keys, DJ Withers, Hayden Hatcher and Jereme Robinson – With war horses in the trenches Devin Phillips limited and Tommy Dunn Jr. out, KU’s defensive line didn’t miss a beat and manhandled the Iowa State offensive line. It wasn’t a perfect game for the guys up front, but they brought a ton of pressure, played a ton of snaps in the ISU backfield and generally made the night miserable for Iowa State QB Rocco Becht, save for a couple of possessions. Weeks of rotating guys in along the D-Line has not only kept players fresh and ready to produce at any given moment, but it also has created some pretty quality depth up front and that really showed up on Saturday night in Ames.
Drink the milk
• Senior linebacker Craig Young – Leipold said after the game that this was one of Young’s best games and he’s not wrong. The KU linebacker was strong in coverage, terrific against the run and right there all night — like many of his teammates — in flying to the ball to keep Iowa State’s gains to a minimum. Fellow-linebackers Rich Miller and Jason Gilliom also probably deserve to be on this list. But, really, it was the entire KU defense that played with that type of mindset. The players and coaches said after the game that that was a big emphasis this week because of the grass field and the fact that you can’t take anything for granted on an uncertain surface like that. KU didn’t. Young, Miller and Gilliom especially. And it paid off big time in the win.
• RS-sophomore defensive lineman Austin Booker – He’s been much higher on this list plenty of times this season for the numbers he put up. In this one, he had just one tackle, but he’s entered Cobee Bryant territory a little bit in that he can wreck a game without putting up the stats to prove it. His constant pressure off the edge and lightning-quick first step is so much to handle and he looks better week after week.
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