Kansas State, Iowa State get ready for battle
Published on -10/9/2012, 10:21 AM
By ARNE GREEN
Special to the Hays Daily New
Paul Rhodes would love to bottle the Iowa State Cyclones' latest formula for success.
By minimizing their own mistakes and maximizing TCU's, the Cyclones escaped Fort Worth last Saturday with a 37-23 upset victory in a game where they were outgained by more than 100 yards.
They also improved to 4-1 overall, evened their league record at 1-1 and cracked the national rankings at No. 25 in the ESPN/USA Today coaches' poll.
"We played extremely hard, had five turnovers, and when you get that you're going to have a pretty good chance of winning," Rhodes said Monday during the Big 12 coaches teleconference.
But duplicating that formula against a Kansas State team that embodies it might not be so easy. In fact, Rhodes said, it's darn near impossible.
"There's no way we can count on five turnovers to help us win this game," said Rhodes, whose Cyclones entertain No. 6-ranked K-State at 11 a.m. Saturday in Ames, Iowa. "They are number one in turnover margin in our league, and that's just one statistical category.
"I've got a whole novel full of 'em, where they prove why they're the smartest team in the Big 12; they prove why they don't lose football games. They make good decisions, they don't throw risky throws (and) they have great ball security."
In other words, the little things add up to a lot. Especially when it's K-State coach Bill Snyder calling the shots.
"You'll struggle to find a finer-coached football team and a finer-prepared football team in the country than a Bill Snyder-coached Kansas State ballclub," Rhodes said.
Even when they didn't display some of those traits last week while stumbling out of the gate against Kansas, neither did the Wildcats self-destruct. And what was a precarious 21-14 halftime advantage quickly turned into a 56-16 rout.
At the end of the day, K-State (5-0, 2-0) had forced five turnovers while committing none, and was penalized once -- for 5 yards on a false start. In fact, the Wildcats are the least-penalized team in the nation with a total of nine and rank fifth in turnover margin at plus-10.
"It really is about those intrinsic values and one of those intrinsic values is discipline," said Snyder, whose Wildcats have yet to turn the ball over in two league games compared to 10 takeaways. "Discipline allows you to do the things, as most coaches would say, that prevent you from beating yourself.
"Certainly, penalties is one of those things, turnovers is one of those things, and we've done reasonably well in those both areas -- at least up to this point in time. And that's a tribute to the discipline of the young people in the program."
Rhodes would argue that it's also a tribute to the man in charge.
"Coach John Majors taught me a long time ago that the number one way to win a football game is not to lose it," Rhodes said. "That's Bill Snyder and that's the Kansas State Wildcats, and they've been doing it for years.
"If you start pressing and try to go figure out a way to win it because of that, that's where you're going to get yourself in trouble. Because that's when you're going to make a mistake when they're not making mistakes."
"You've got to go out and do the same thing that they do and we try to do," Rhodes added. "They just do it better than most people."
K-State, WVU in prime time
K-State will be back in prime time on Oct. 20, when it travels to Morgantown, W.Va., to face West Virginia in Fox's college football game of the week.
Fox will broadcast the game nationwide with a 6 p.m. kickoff.
Big 12 newcomer West Virginia (5-0) is tied atop the league standings with K-State at 2-0 and is ranked fifth in the latest Associated Press poll, one spot ahead of the Wildcats. The Mountaineers are fourth and K-State fifth in the coaches' poll.