Farmageddon sets stage for season finale


Photo: Tim Reuter/Iowa State Daily

Defensive end Patrick Neal goes after UNI quarterback Tirell Rennie during Saturday’s game. Iowa State defeated the Panthers 20-19.

Jake Calhoun

Absent of a victory against its land-grant counterpart since 2007, the ISU football team is eager to play the role of spoiler.

With bowl implications on the line, the Cyclones (6-5, 3-5 Big 12) will travel to Manhattan, Kan., for the 95th installment of “Farmageddon” — the annual rivalry game against Kansas State — for an 11:30 a.m. kickoff Saturday.

“Kansas State doesn’t lose football games,” said ISU coach Paul Rhoads. “They’re very sound, they’re very smart. They’re tough to beat, even tougher to beat on their home field.

“As we continue to grow our program, there are a lot of things that I would describe of Kansas State that I would like to hear people describe us in the same matter.”

Fresh off a loss to No. 13 Oklahoma in Norman, Okla., Rhoads said his team’s confidence is akin to what it was after a bout of improved play in an Oct. 22 loss to Texas A&M.

“We go into the month of December with an opportunity to get two more victories — a position any coach would like their program to be in here at the end of the season,” Rhoads said.

The No. 16 Wildcats (9-2, 6-2) come into the game with their main offensive threat — rushing quarterback Collin Klein — reportedly banged up down the main stretch of the season. The hits Klein has taken en route to his showdown with the ISU defense is not surprising in the least, though.

“Offenses normally want to protect their quarterback, but it’s kind of the opposite with Kansas State,” said defensive end Patrick Neal. “But [Klein’s] a big guy, he’s bigger than most running backs, so I’m not surprised he’s been able to take the punishment.”

Klein is third in the nation among quarterbacks in rushing yards per game, averaging 92.1 yards per game. However, Klein’s passing production is miniscule in comparison, ranking 109th in the nation in average passing offense.

In the Cyclones’ loss to Oklahoma, quarterback Jared Barnett was troubled by the OU defensive scheme, which the KSU defense is believed to have modeled its game plan after for him.

“Essentially, [for] a number of snaps they rushed two defenders,” Rhoads said of the OU defense. “They played another defender at the line of scrimmage and then they spied with a fourth player.”

Rhoads said this was effective in making Barnett’s scrambling ability a non-factor in multiple facets of the offense. Barnett rushed for only 21 yards — tied for his lowest rushing total since his debut in the fourth quarter of the Oct. 15 loss to Missouri.

“It’s a lot easier once you see a defense and see it’s easier to think, ‘OK, well, some of them are going to drop and they’re just going to drop eight,'” Barnett said. “But it’s a different thing seeing it. Now that I’ve had that experience, I know what we can do to make sure that we’re still productive whenever defenses are playing like that.”

Iowa State leads the series against Kansas State 49-41-4 in the 95-year duration of the series.

Under the tutelage of coach Bill Snyder, however, the Wildcats have led the Cyclones 15-4 when he took over the program from 1989 to 2005 and resumed in 2009.

“Many legends of this game would argue that the job he did in Manhattan, Kan., had never been done before at any other place,” Rhoads said of Snyder. “I still marvel at what he accomplished there.”

Kickoff is slated for 11:30 a.m. and will be broadcast on Fox Sports Network.