No. 21 Kansas battles Iowa State as Big 12 race heats up

Field Level Media

November 01, 2023 at 7:54 am.

There is a logjam at the top of the Big 12 standings, with five teams tied for first and two others just a game behind.

Six of those seven teams will have head-to-head battles this weekend, including No. 21 Kansas traveling to Ames, Iowa, to face Iowa State on Saturday evening.

The Jayhawks (6-2, 3-2 Big 12) jumped back into the rankings after knocking off previously unbeaten Oklahoma on Saturday, their first win over the Sooners since 1997. Iowa State (5-3, 4-1) returns home after a convincing win over Baylor in Waco, Texas.

The Cyclones have fully recovered from a sluggish 1-2 nonconference portion of the schedule. They have won three straight games, including a 30-18 defeat of the Bears.

Iowa State’s Cartevious Norton ran for two touchdowns against Baylor, while quarterback Rocco Becht threw for 238 yards and a score with one interception.

The Jayhawks are coming off the high of registering their first home win over a top-10 team since 1984. Kansas scored the first 14 points before giving up the next 21, the first of six lead changes.

Quarterback Jason Bean put the Jayhawks back in front with a 38-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter. The teams traded touchdowns — and failed two-point conversions — until Dillon Gabriel’s 1-yard run put the Sooners back up 33-32 with 5:22 left.

Bean threw his second straight interception with 2:29 left, but the Jayhawks forced a three-and-out. On fourth-and-6, Bean found Lawrence Arnold for a key conversion for 37 yards. Devin Neal punched it in from the 9-yard line, and Kansas deflected a desperation pass by Gabriel in the end zone on the game’s final play.

Bean was filling in for Jalon Daniels, who has missed four games due to a back ailment.

“When Jalon Daniels is healthy, Jalon is the starting quarterback, but we’re not at that point today,” Kansas coach Lance Leipold said early in the week. “We’re not at that point yet to decide that. He works out every day, some days are better than others.”

Regarding Bean, Leipold added, “He’s a pretty quiet guy, but he’s respected. His confidence as a leader has grown with his confidence in the offense and his personal play.”

The Cyclones are wary of both Bean and Daniels.

“No matter who it is, it’s elite speed at quarterback,” Iowa State coach Matt Campbell said. “They’ve got two elite quarterbacks and two guys that have the ability to really challenge you in the running game at the quarterback position.

“We’ve played some mobile quarterbacks already this year, and you’ve got to hang your hat on some of that and do your best to simulate that in practice.”

In terms of his offense, Campbell expressed pride in the work of his linemen.

“That group in general, that’s probably been the most impressive piece that’s accelerated faster than anything is the ability to protect the quarterback,” Campbell said. “Everybody has to be really good when you’re talking about protecting the quarterback, including the quarterback himself.”

Kansas owns a 51-45-6 record all time against the Cyclones. The Jayhawks snapped a seven-game losing streak with a 14-11 victory in Lawrence, Kan., last year.

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