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Iowa State finishes season with road test against Kansas State

Joseph Dicklin
Iowa State RB Eli Sanders makes a touchdown catch during the Iowa State vs. Texas football game on Nov. 18, 2023 in Jack Trice Stadium.

The Cyclones will finish their regular season with a tough road test against No. 19 Kansas State.

After a tight loss to Texas at home, Iowa State will look to close out on a high note before looking ahead to a bowl game. After the whimper that last season ended on, the Cyclones are wanting to put up a fight before the current season is over.

Iowa State closed out last year with a 62-14 loss to TCU. Although TCU went on to compete in the National Championship game, the Cyclones still want to prove they can finish strong.

“Last year, that games still on our minds. We really got embarrassed,” Rocco Becht said. “That’s really what’s kept us going throughout this last week. We don’t want that to happen again, and we know it’s not going to happen again.”

Now the Cyclones have a similarly tough test as they take on Kansas State, who has had another solid season. The defending Big 12 champions  are not going to give Iowa State an easy time.

However, Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell made it clear that his team was ready for the challenge. He said it was beneficial for the team to end the season with strong competition, especially with how young the group is and the growth that can be gained from strong opponents.

“To me, you want to play big games in November, and you want to test yourself,” Campbell said.

Iowa State will be tested Saturday night, as Kansas State provides a unique threat. The Wildcats have a similarly elite defense to Iowa State. Kansas State is one spot below Iowa State in yards allowed per game and one spot about Iowa State in points allowed per game.

The Wildcats are physical on defense and are tricky to deal with. Kansas State’s defense is also good at adapting to whatever teams throw at it.

“They’re a physical team. Safeties come down and fit in the run game. Their D-line is very good. Just as a whole, they’re really good at communicating,” Jaylin Noel said. “They’re a tight-knit group and you gotta be on your P’s and Q’s to be able to exploit anything they give.”

If Iowa State wants a chance at an upset win on the road, it needs to match Kansas State in physicality. The Cyclones can be a physical team on both sides of the ball.

That physicality is something that shined through in many big wins throughout the season. Campbell knows his team can be physical, they just need to come out and play hard throughout the entire game.

“Can you be that team for four quarters?” Campbell said. “You’re gonna have to be, especially on the road.”

Being on the road will also cause issues for Iowa State. Although the Cyclones have found success throughout the season on the road, they are in for a tough test in Manhattan, Kansas.

Manhattan is a tough place to play, and the atmosphere could cause issues for the Cyclones. Kansas State is still undefeated at home.

“Nobody’s gonna root for us,” Becht said. “It’s 80 of us versus thousands of them.”

Despite everything going against the Cyclones, they are still expecting to put up a fight. The team has not given up in any game throughout the season.

The Cyclones fight to the end of games, which should bode well as they look to put up one last fight to close out the season.

“I feel like this team just has finish,” Becht said. “We finish games I felt like this whole year. Whether we’re down or we’re up.”

Iowa State is set to face off against Kansas State at 7 p.m. Saturday in Manhattan, Kansas. The game will be aired live on FOX.

“We [have to] come out and play Iowa State football, then everything will be good,” Jeremiah Cooper said. “We just gotta keep our heads straight, be disciplined with everything and we gonna be good Saturday.”

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