The forecast calls for cold, the kind of shivering cold that can whip in the wind in central Iowa. When Kansas kicks off against Iowa State at 7 p.m. Saturday at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, the temperature is expected to be below freezing, maybe close to 15 degrees. The wind chill could be even worse.
But the question, of course, is whether the weather could have any impact on the game — game plans or the general psyche of either team.
“I’ll address it,” KU coach Charlie Weis said this week. “And (I’ll) say, ‘Look fellas, this is the way it’s going to be and this is the last time I’ll talk about it.’”
Weis thinks that wind can wreak much more havoc on a game plan than cold. But the Jayhawks, built around a run-heavy offense, do appear to be constructed to handle chilly conditions.
Freshman quarterback Montell Cozart threw just 12 times last week while making his first career start. He added 13 rushes for 60 yards, and the KU rushing game dominated West Virginia while snapping a 27-game Big 12 losing streak. Senior James Sims did most of the heavy lifting, finishing with a career-high 211 yards.
“We only threw it 12 times,” Weis said. “We had a couple other passes called that (Cozart) scrambled for good production that I call hidden yardage. I think that it’s not a question of whether Montell can throw the ball, and I think he’ll get better and better because he has all the tools to be a successful passer.
“But, when you’re in a game like that, and you’re running for over 300 yards, and the linemen are controlling the line of scrimmage, why throw it?”
Iowa State, meanwhile, is 1-9 and coming off a 48-10 loss to Oklahoma last Saturday. The Cyclones are ranked 99th in the country in rushing while running for 128 yards per game. And Iowa State desperately needs some signs of hope after losing seven straight. But Kansas is finally in decent position to snap a 23-game losing streak on the road.
It promises to be a slugfest — a very cold one.
“If we can get up there to Ames and come out of there with a win,” Weis said, “I think that would do wonders for us going forward.”