Coming off a big win in conference against TCU, the Kansas Jayhawks looked to win back-to-back conference games for the first time since 2008.
The team will have to continue to wait as Iowa State came away with a 27-3 win in Lawrence.
Head coach David Beaty shouldered the blame after the game, knowing his team failed to capitalize in pivotal moments.
“The story of the game really is just missed opportunities for one team, and the other team staying the course and not shooting themselves in the foot,” Beaty said to the IMG Sports Radio Network after the game.
Despite only gaining 332 yards of offense, Kansas kept knocking on the door, but the Cyclone defense kept slamming it shut.
The KU offense entered Iowa State territory six times. Those drives ended with – in order – a turnover on downs, a fumble, a field goal and three more turnovers on downs in the fourth quarter.
“I’ve got to do a better job of getting them into better things or getting them into things that are maybe a little bit easier to execute,” the head coach said. “That really falls on me. …Very disappointed we didn’t get the ball into the end zone on those last couple of drives.”
Even though Beaty took responsibility for the lack of execution on offense, sophomore receiver Stephon Robinson said the players must find a way to make plays.
“He [Beaty] puts us in the right position to make plays and it’s up to us,” the sophomore receiver said. “We play the game, the players, 11 on the field to make the plays. So, when it doesn’t happen, it’s on us.”
In the first quarter, Robinson dropped a pass near the end zone while all alone. Kansas would later go for it on 4th-and-3 at the Iowa State 27 but came with zero points after an incomplete pass in the end zone to Jeremiah Booker.
“My receivers’ coach [Justin Johnson] tells me all the time to look the ball in, catch it with your hands, I did the exact opposite,” Robinson said about the drop. “I didn’t think it was real. That really doesn’t happen a lot and when it does it’s a huge loss to me.”
Later in the half with KU driving, Bender completed a pass to Robinson at the Iowa State 17, but Brian Peavy stripped the ball from Robinson and the Cyclones recovered.
“I have an opportunity to put us up in the game, or make a play that changes the whole game, and when you don’t make that play it’s just hard,” Robinson said.
The Jayhawks only gained 4 yards per play on the leading defense in the Big 12. Defensive coordinator Jon Heacock’s unit came into the game allowing 323.3 yards per game and 4.9 yards per play, tops in the conference.
That defense held quarterback Peyton Bender to 185 yards through the air on 41 attempts.
“Well if you know anything about football and you study these guys, they are a drop eight look,” Beaty said when breaking down the Iowa State defense. “So, they got three down lineman and they drop eight. They had a bunch of breakups…but that’s because there’s eight guys back there, and when there is eight guys back there most of the time there is going to be somebody close.”
“That’s who they are and that’s what they do, and the whole league knows that.”
Beaty said because of this look he wanted his team to run the ball today. KU ran for 147 yards on 40 attempts for 3.68 yards per carry.
Redshirt junior receiver Hakeem Butler announced his presence on the second drive of the game with an 83-yard touchdown. Later in the first quarter, the 6-foot-6-inch receiver made a jaw-dropping catch over Hasan Defense for a 51-yard touchdown. Butler towered over the 5’11” corner to come down with the grab, a play worthy of SportsCenter’s Top 10.
Hands. Feet. Strength! Here is the second deep TD catch from Hakeem Butler! pic.twitter.com/pSDVx2kkTl
— Cyclone Football (@CycloneFB) November 3, 2018
“It was a horrible throw, great catch,” Defense said after the game. “He went up and got it
Butler finished with 5 catches for 164 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Brock Purdy went 16-of-23 for 263 yards and three touchdowns.
The bend-but-don’t-break KU defense allowed 394 yards on 62 plays. The unit came into the game allowing 433 yards per game and 6.1 yards per play, but plus-16 in turnover margin, the best turnover margin in the FBS. KU forced zero turnovers against Iowa State.
However, in the second half, KU held Iowa State to 7 points and 114 yards of total offense. Beaty said he thought his defense played well enough to win the game.
“Just answered the bell over and over again,” Beaty said. “I can’t say enough about what [defensive coordinator] Clint Bowen and his staff did today.”
Defense was not satisfied even with the improvements in the second half. “We shouldn’t’ve had to do it in the first place. Coach had a great game plan. He had us in position to make many plays, and we didn’t do it. So, we shouldn’t have been down to where we felt like we had to bounce back.”
Matt Campbell, in his third season as the Iowa State head coach, has won 16 games since taking over in 2016. His team finished 8-5 last year and defeated two top-5 teams in Oklahoma and TCU. This year, the Cyclones can still make an appearance in Arlington, TX for the Big 12 Championship game if circumstances break their way.
Since 2016, Beaty has won six games, two of them in the Big 12.
Kansas will play in the Sunflower Showdown against Kansas State next Saturday. Kickoff is at 11 a.m.