Key play: On the opening drive, KU was going for it on fourth and 1 at the Iowa State 20, but a false start penalty forced a field-goal attempt. Sophomore Nick Bartolotta missed from 44 yards.
Key stat: KU had 57 total yards.
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Key play: Midway through the quarter, Iowa State quarterback Sam B. Richardson hit Justin Chandler on a 30-yard gain, setting up the Cyclones’ first touchdown.
Key stat: KU was three for nine on third-down conversions.
Key play: Iowa State running back Mike Warren sprinted 62 yards past the KU defense with 9:47 left. The Cyclones led 24-0.
Key stat: KU had 61 rushing yards.
Key play: Early in the quarter, KU linebacker Marcquis Roberts returned an interception 87 yards for a touchdown.
Key stat: Iowa State averaged 6.6 yards per carry for the game.
What happened to the KU rushing attack? After rushing for 64 yards last week, the Jayhawks managed just 38 yards against Iowa State. That number includes minus-18 yards from quarterback Ryan Willis, but opponents have realized that the Jayhawks have no downfield passing game.
OK, the KU run defense could be a real problem. In the past two weeks, Rutgers and Iowa State have combined to rush for 555 yards against the Jayhawks. Some of the issues are physicality and size. But the Jayhawks have to be more disciplined in their gaps.
The Jayhawks have been solid on special teams. Saturday was not solid. Kicker Nick Bartolotta missed a field goal and an extra point. Punter Eric Kahn averaged just 32 yards per punt, and KU coach David Beaty wasn’t happy with either sides of the return game.
It’s been well documented, but Beaty’s staff has been handcuffed with a short-handed roster. Still, Saturday’s performance won’t inspire too much optimism in the short term. Beaty’s decision to punt from the Iowa State 35 was questionable, and the running game has been ineffective for two straight weeks.
Player of the game: Mike Warren, a redshirt freshman, set the Iowa State freshman record with 175 yards rushing in 18 carries. He averaged 9.7 yards per carry and finished with two touchdowns, including a 62-yard bolt in the second half. On that one play, he surpassed KU’s rushing total (38 yards) for the day.
Reason to hope: The Jayhawks have some true freshmen — cornerback Tyrone Miller Jr., receiver Steven Sims and quarterback Ryan Wills to name three — gaining experience.
Reason to mope: Now the schedule really turns brutal. The Jayhawks will face Baylor, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma over the next four weeks.
Looking ahead: Kansas returns home to face high-powered Baylor at 11 a.m. Saturday. The Bears should be a massive favorite.