KICKOFF: Saturday, 12:30 ET
SITE. Bill Snyder Family Stadium, Manhattan, Kan.
SERIES: Kansas State leads 49-41-4 (last meeting, 2010, Kansas State 27-20)
RECORDS: Iowa State 6-5, 3-5 Big 12; Kansas State, 9-2, 6-2 Big 12
POLLS: Kansas State (No. 16 AP, No. 15 USA Today)
PREDICTION: Kansas State 28-17
KEYS TO THE GAME:
-- For Iowa State:
Stop K-State's running game. The Wildcats will have a tough time scoring points if they have to throw the ball. Cyclones QB Jared Barnett must find a way to move the chains and keep the ball away from the Wildcats.
-- For Kansas State:
Pressure the quarterback. Freshman Jared Barnett ignited Iowa State to a three-game win streak, but he still is a freshman and can be inconsistent. The Wildcats want to overpower the Iowa State defense with their running game.
SCOUTING THE TEAMS:
Iowa State found out in its last game as QB Jared Barnett goes so does the offense. The Cyclones will need to find a way to get Barnett on track against a stingy Kansas State defense. Barrett has passed for 820 yards and five touchdowns and run for 322 yards and two more scores in going 3-1 as a starter. The Wildcats are third in the league in rushing defense, which could make it hard for not only Barnett, who likes to scramble, but the Iowa State running backs to find room on the ground.
Iowa State hasn't really faced an offense like Kansas State's this year. QB Collin Klein is really a quarterback in name only. K-State is last in the league in passing offense. But Klein proves his worth when running a zone read or a quarterback draw. The Wildcats average 193 yards per game on the ground. The Cyclones are yielding nearly 195 to opposing rushers.
What consistency Kansas State has developed from a passing attack ranked last in the Big 12 and 109th nationally has come from WR Chris Harper, who has been the favorite target for QB Collin Klein all season. Still, the Wildcats' chief source of offense is Klein's ability to gain yardage on designed runs, as well as scrambles. He ranks first in the Big 12 with 150 points on 25 touchdowns. RB John Hubert offers some assistance, but lacks any breakaway capabilities as a complimentary rusher.
Kansas State is susceptible to the pass, a dimension of the offense freshman QB Jared Barnett is beginning to grasp for Iowa State. The Cyclones remain the least efficient passing team in the Big 12, however. That should help a beleaguered Kansas State secondary, which usually bends but sometimes does not break. The Wildcats rank among the Big 12 leaders with 23 interceptions, including seven by CB Nigel Malone. CB David Garrett also provides a steady presence as a versatile defender who can also drop into the box and rush quarterbacks.
The Iowa State defense continued its strong finish to the season last week. The Cyclones allowed only two touchdowns to the Sooners and forced four turnovers, making it nine turnovers in the last two weeks. Over the last four games, Iowa State has allowed an average of 18.5 points. ... Iowa State knows it is bowl-bound with six wins, but a seventh win would guarantee a winning season. ... The Cyclones haven't beaten Kansas State since 2007, a 31-20 win in Ames. The Cyclones haven't won in Manhattan since 2004. ... Coach Paul Rhoads, who is completing his third year, goes into the game with an 18-18 record with the Cyclones. ... S Ter'Ran Benton, a senior, entered the Texas Tech game on Oct. 29 without an interception in his career. Since then he has had three in four games. ... LB Jake Knott is second in the Big 12 in tackles-per-game with his 9.45 average.
The last time Kansas State ended the regular season with a December game was in 1950. A Dec. 2 game at Wichita resulted in a 6-6 tie and was the last game coached by Ralph Graham, an All-American player for the Wildcats who went 4-26-1 in three seasons as coach. ... The series with Iowa State was played in Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium the last two years and the Wildcats gained slim victories both times. Kansas State declined to renew the series at that neutral site, pointing to poor attendance as a factor. ... Kansas State is coming off a bye week, its second of the season, while the Cyclones played straight through on their schedule. ... The Wildcats came out of a bye week earlier in the season to win at Miami as part of a 7-0 start. ... An email campaign Kansas State launched, which promotes QB Collin Klein for the Heisman Trophy, declares the junior as college football's most valuable player. The single-page salute notes Klein's extensive responsibilities in the Wildcats' offense and quotes national writers and broadcasters.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
LB Jake Knott -- He has a nose for the football. He leads the Cyclones in tackles with 104 and if he can get plays near the line of scrimmage, Kansas State will have a hard time establishing its rushing game.
RB Jeff Woody -- He could see his role in the offense expand this week, as starting RB James White deals with a shoulder injury. He had a career-high 13 carries a week ago.
DT Jake McDonough -- The big man inside can be tough to move. If he's playing well enough to command double teams all day long, it would make life easier for the Iowa State linebackers to step up and stop the run.
QB Collin Klein -- With 25 rushing touchdowns this season, Klein needs three to break the FBS record for a quarterback set in 2009 by Navy's Ricky Dobbs. The Big 12 record for rushing touchdowns by any player is 27 set by Texas' Ricky Williams in 1998.
WR Chris Harper -- Has snagged two or more receptions in 14 consecutive games, and during that stretch the Oregon transfer has 45 catches for 637 yards and eight touchdowns. Harper was converted into a receiver at Kansas State after previously playing quarterback.
DE Adam Davis -- The pressure he applied during the late stages of the Nov. 19 win at Texas helped the Wildcats prevent a comeback. A fourth-down sack by Davis was the first for the Wildcats since the Oct. 22 win at Kansas.
WR Josh Lenz (calf, questionable), RB James White (shoulder, questionable), OT Braden Burns (foot, probable).
QB Collin Klein (undisclosed, probable).