Kansas football: Jayhawks ride strong first half as dream season continues with win over Iowa State

Kansas Jayhawks running back Devin Neal (4) runs for a touchdown against Iowa State during the first quarter at Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023, in Ames, Iowa.
Kansas Jayhawks running back Devin Neal (4) runs for a touchdown against Iowa State during the first quarter at Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023, in Ames, Iowa. /

Coming off a colossal victory over Oklahoma, Kansas football kept its foot on the gas against Iowa State to secure their first winning season in 15 years.

Yesterday’s contest for Lance Leipold and the Kansas Jayhawks had trap game written all over it. KU had recently obtained bowl eligibility after they upset No. 6 Oklahoma, landing them in the CFB Playoff rankings for the first time in school history. However, they didn’t let the outside hype phase them and overcame a late-game comeback attempt by the Cyclones, winning 28-21 to improve to 7-2.

KU’s much-improved defense paved the way for a comfortable victory, not allowing a single point until the end of the first half. They sacked Iowa State quarterback Rocco Becht twice and recorded seven tackles for loss. Even more impressive was cornerback Mello Dotson’s pick-six to extend the lead to 14-0, the second he’s had in as many weeks.

One might have thought that Kansas would struggle offensively with their poor rushing performance, as Devin Neal and Daniel Hishaw Jr. didn’t live up to their hefty expectations. KU ran for a season-low 74 yards on 35 carries. However, Jason Bean made some terrific throws under center, completing 14-of-23 pass attempts for 287 yards and one touchdown.

He made a living off deep shots to his tall wideouts Lawrence Arnold and Quentin Skinner. They both caught three balls apiece, with Skinner recording 84 yards and Arnold with 110 thanks to an 80-yard touchdown on the first play of this drive after Iowa State cut it to three points.

There was no shortage of highlight reel plays in this one. Here’s Skinner making a SportsCenter Top Ten-worthy catch.

Kansas football now sits at 7-2 ahead of its home meeting against Texas Tech next week. They’ll likely slot into the teens in the next CFB Playoff rankings with schools ahead of them such as USC, UCLA, Notre Dame, and LSU falling in their games this week.

Analysis of Kansas Football Victory vs. Iowa State

At this point, there’s no reason to believe Jalon Daniels will return to the team in 2023. He didn’t travel with the team to Ames. Whether that is a coaching or personal decision, the supposed leader of the team NEEDS to be present on the sidelines down the stretch, back injury or healthy. I don’t want to get into the whole redshirt/transfer conversation, because it isn’t my place to bash a player over his personal life. But this is Jason Bean’s team from here on out.

Kansas is here, folks. The differences between last year’s team which crumbled down the stretch compared to this year’s are astronomical. There are a ton of skill position players on defense, and the Jayhawks are finding ways to score against top Big 12 defenses with their backup under center and a lackluster performance from the run game.

One thing I do think is worth monitoring is Mello Dotson’s injury. Let’s hope he is good to go next week because the secondary struggles a lot more in his absence. All in all, what a win by this group. Can’t believe how far they have come.

Next. 3 most exciting KUFB conference games across next four seasons. dark