Iowa State still has a long-shot possibility of facing Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship Game. But for the upstart Cyclones to have any chance of getting an invite to Arlington, Tex., to play the Sooners on Dec. 2, they first need to finish conference play with a road victory at Kansas State on Saturday.
That’s obviously a tough task, especially when you consider that the Wildcats have won nine straight in the series including 31-26 last season in Ames. But Iowa State, which was picked ninth in the Big 12 preseason media poll, has far exceeded all expectations this season, knocking off two top-five ranked teams in the same season for the first time in school history including a shocking 38-31 win at Oklahoma on Oct. 7. To get to the Big 12 title game, the Cyclones would need a number of dominoes to fall in their favor, the biggest of which would be Baylor (1-10, 1-7 Big 12) going on the road and upsetting TCU (9-2, 6-2) on Friday. Still, a win at Kansas State would be one for the record books for the Cyclones who have never won more than five games in conference play.
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2. LINE: Kansas State -3
ABOUT IOWA STATE (7-4, 5-3 Big 12): The big question going into the game is the health of sophomore running back David Montgomery who ranks second in the Big 12 in rushing (98.2 yards per game) and had 144 in last week’s 23-13 win at Baylor before leaving with an ankle injury. Iowa State coach Matt Campbell said X-rays on the ankle were negative, and he’s hopeful Montgomery, who has six 100-yard games this season, will be able to go with sophomore Sheldon Croney Jr., who has 88 yards on 16 carries and one TD this season, his likely replacement. Freshman Zeb Noland, who completed 14-of-28 passes for 180 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions at Baylor, is the likely starter at quarterback with Kyle Kempt expected to miss the game with an arm injury.
ABOUT KANSAS STATE (6-5, 4-4): The Wildcats became bowl eligible for the eighth straight year with a 45-40 win at Oklahoma State last week, their first win over a top-10 team since 2012. Quarterback Skylar Thompson, a freshman making just his second start, completed 10-of-13 passes for 204 yards and three touchdowns and also rushed for a team-high 93 yards while wide receiver Byron Pringle caught four passes for 166 yards, including touchdowns of 47, 46 and 60 yards. Linebackers Trent Tanking and Jayd Kirby rank seventh and eighth, respectively, in the Big 12 in tackles while junior corners D.J. Reed (13) and Duke Shelley (12) are 1-2 in the Big 12 in passes defended and have combined for six interceptions.
1. Iowa State is the only FBS team in the nation this year without a lost fumble.
2. Kansas State senior PK Matthew McCane leads the Big 12 with 21 field goals in 26 attempts, including a long of 54 yards.
3. Cyclones senior WR Allen Lazard leads the team in receptions (55), receiving yards (704) and TD catches (9) and has caught at least one pass in 46 consecutive games, the longest current streak in the NCAA.
PREDICTION: Iowa State 23, Kansas State 20