Spodcasters Pregame: KU-ISU
The guys (Tom Keegan, Jesse Newell, Dugan Arnett) discuss why KU's matchup against Iowa State might be tougher than some fans think. Topics of discussion also include the color pink, playing running back like a sponge and Iowa State athletes that never seem to graduate.
Recently, the Iowa State football team's annual meeting with Kansas University hasn't gone too terribly well.
In the teams' games since 2006, Kansas has saved its most dominant performances for the Cyclones, outscoring Iowa State by a combined score of 86-17, including a 45-7 thrashing last season at Memorial Stadium that dropped Iowa State to 3-9 for the year while propelling Kansas to a No. 2 national ranking.
Said Iowa State coach Gene Chizik of the 2007 game, "They just outplayed us last year in every way, shape and form."
When the teams tangle at 11:30 a.m. today in Ames, Iowa, however, the Cyclones will feature a weapon they haven't had in either of the teams' previous two meetings - a defense that has proved it can force turnovers in bunches.
Iowa State enters today's game ranked first in the Big 12 and ninth in the nation in turnover margin (plus-6), having forced nearly as many turnovers in its first four games this season (13) as it did in 12 games last season (18)
Against South Dakota State in their season opener, the Cyclones recorded five interceptions in a 44-17 victory and followed it up by recovering four fumbles to top Kent State, 48-28, the following week.
In the process, the defense has showed that it has the ability to keep the Cyclones in games, re-energizing a team that finished 10th in the conference in turnover margin a season ago.
"It's always fun to play in a defense like this," said Cyclones linebacker Josh Raven, who has forced two fumbles and recovered one so far this season. "This year's defense, they're putting more emphasis on us to play assignment football, make big plays, force turnovers."
The flip side to all this is that the Jayhawks, up to this point, have been deft protectors of the football in 2008. Kansas has turned the ball over just four times this season, tied for fifth-fewest in the nation, and quarterback Todd Reesing has thrown just two interceptions in 179 passing attempts.
Still, Mangino has made a point to harp on ball protection heading into today's game. A great deal of the Jayhawks'' success in 2007 can be attributed to the team's stellar turnover margin (Kansas led the Big 12 in that area a year ago), and the coach hasn't eased on his mandate that the Jayhawks excel in this area - especially against a team prone to takeaways.
"Ball security definitely gets discussed," Kansas receiver Johnathan Wilson said. "We do certain drills, like strip drills, during the week just to prepare us for Saturday. I think on Saturday, they're going to try to strip the ball, they're going to be doing a lot of things (of that nature)."
The Jayhawks enter the game as a fairly heavy favorite - the kind men in Vegas have listed Iowa State as a 13-point underdog - although, as history tells us, nothing can turn the tide quite like a few untimely turnovers.
"Their kids are good at it," Mangino said. "Sometimes it's just good fundamental play that creates turnovers. Sometimes it's ineptitude of an opponent that creates turnovers.
"In any case, they do a very, very good job of it."