Ames, IA (SportsNetwork.com) - After receiving some devastating news earlier in the week, the Iowa State Cyclones will attempt to upset the 20th-ranked Kansas State Wildcats in the Big 12 Conference opener for both squads this Saturday at Jack Trice Stadium.
Although Iowa State's 34-14 loss to North Dakota State was certainly difficult to take during opening weekend, it was the loss of wide receiver Quenton Bundrage that will have a more lasting impression. The wideout, who led the team with 676 yards and nine touchdowns on 48 receptions last season, injured his leg early against the Bison and on Monday it was announced he would miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL. The news is even harder to take for a team that is trying to improve on a 3-9 finish from 2013.
Kansas State had a more favorable Labor Day weekend. The Wildcats hosted an FCS foe as well, but blasted their way past Stephen F. Austin, 55-16. The win was the third straight for the Wildcats dating back to last season, when they finished with back-to-back victories and an 8-5 overall record.
If the result of last year's matchup is repeated, Iowa State is in big trouble. K-State rolled to a 41-7 triumph at home in that contest. The Cyclones still hold a 49-44-4 all-time series edge, but the Wildcats have won eight of the last 11 meetings and six straight overall.
Jake Waters powered Kansas State's offensive eruption against Stephen F. Austin in the opener. The quarterback threw for 223 yards and two scores, and also rushed for 55 yards and two more touchdowns. He completed 19-of-28 pass attempts in the contest and was guilty of an interception, but his versatility was on full display.
Tyler Lockett, who had 1,262 yards receiving last year, caught a nine-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter, but that was his only reception. He is suffering from a lingering hamstring injury, but is listed as probable for Saturday's game.
With Lockett limited, Cook (three receptions, 44 yards, TD) and DeMarcus Robinson (four receptions, 47 yards) were the top targets, although nine different players recorded a catch in the win.
Robinson also had 49 yards on 11 carries, while Charles Jones was tough to bring down on just eight carries as he finished with 55 yards and two touchdowns. In all, the Wildcats had 240 yards rushing as a team. Head coach Bill Snyder is hoping for even better production from the backfield going forward.
"We didn't get a multitude of big plays, but they were getting consistent yardage," Snyder said. "Five yards per carry isn't tremendously bad, but it probably should have been better this evening."
Helping the cause along with the Wildcats' strong offensive display, was the work put in by the defense. Kansas State allowed only 294 yards and 14 first downs to the Lumberjacks. They also permitted just one drive of 10 or more plays, while the Wildcats offense had four.
Elijah Lee really dominated up front for the defense, recording two sacks and a forced fumble. Randall Evans and Jonathan Truman tied for the team-high with only five stops, as plenty of players got time on the field due to the large scoring disparity.
After taking a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter, Iowa State was never able to get anything going offensively in its season-opening loss to North Dakota State. In all, the Cyclones only mustered 253 yards of total offense, with just two red zone trips, but none after the first minute of the second quarter.
Quarterback Sam B. Richardson was clearly out of sorts, although it is unclear how much was due to Bundrage's absence. Richardson completed 20-of-31 pass attempts, but he managed just 151 yards and his two interceptions proved extremely costly. Richardson did a solid job running the ball, however, finishing with 58 yards on 15 carries, although that number could have been better if not for the four sacks he took.
Dondre Daley and DeVondrick Nealy each had five receptions in the losing effort, but they combined for only 58 yards. Aaron Wimberly averaged 4.2 yards per carry and scored both touchdowns, but he had only nine rushing attempts.
"We started fast, which is exciting to see," Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads said. "Then the toll of (North Dakota State's) offense began to take effect on us. It's designed to wear you down and it did wear us down. It got to the point where we couldn't stop them from getting a first down."
Rhoads is not exaggerating when speaking about how worn down his defense was against the Bison. Iowa State let up 506 total yards, with 302 coming on the ground. The Cyclones also surrendered 22 first downs, 12 via the run, and a 9- of-15 success rate on third down. They were also susceptible to big plays, giving up runs of 80 and 66 yards.