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Iowa State hands Kansas its first shutout loss in two seasons

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, at 10:20 p.m.
  • Updated Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, at 9:16 a.m.


— One hour before Kansas kicked off against Iowa State, senior linebacker Darius Willis removed his shirt and went for a short jog on the sideline at Trice Stadium.

The temperature hovered around 13 degrees — the wind chill around 4 — and the latter would fall to near zero before the end of the night. But Willis, wearing nothing but mesh basketball shorts, his skin glistening from sweat, looked completely comfortable while doing something completely crazy.

If Willis, a backup linebacker, was attempting to show his teammates that they could handle the arctic conditions on a frigid Saturday night in Iowa, the pregame gambit didn’t quite pay off.

For another night, the Kansas offense was stopped cold in a 34-0 loss to Iowa State. The Jayhawks couldn’t finish off drives. They couldn’t muster any momentous plays. And they couldn’t pierce an Iowa State defense that entered the night ranked 117th in Division I in scoring defense.

Just like that, Kansas (3-8, 1-7) fell back into a tie for last place in the Big 12. For two years, since the reconfiguration of a 10-team Big 12, the Jayhawks have occupied the cellar. On Saturday, as Iowa State (2-9 and 1-8) notched its first Big 12 victory, the Jayhawks were back at the bottom.

Just one week ago, Kansas had snapped a 27-game Big 12 losing streak in a 31-19 victory over West Virginia. And earlier in the week, Kansas coach Charlie Weis had talked about program mile-markers, signs that his team is moving forward. Kansas had finally taken down a Big 12 opponent, and that set up the next line on the agenda: Beat somebody on the road.

As the wind chill fell to single digits late on Saturday night, Iowa State handed the Jayhawks their 24th straight loss on the road.

Kansas freshman quarterback Montell Cozart, who was making his second career start, completed just 4 of 12 pass attempts for 20 yards before being replaced by senior Jake Heaps with 5:56 left in the third quarter.

The Jayhawks quickly went three-and-out.

According to the National Weather Service, frostbite can set in when the body is exposed to temperatures below 0 degrees. So as the Jayhawks played one of the coldest games in recent Big 12 history, the offense appeared to be suffering from some major freezer burn.

And maybe it wouldn’t have mattered, but Kansas twice failed to convert fourth downs deep in Iowa State territory during the first half. In both cases, there really wasn’t a really choice. The weather dictated that Weis go for it.

After driving 64 yards on 12 plays on its opening drive, Kansas failed to convert a fourth and 4 from the Iowa State 26-yard line. Cozart hit receiver Christian Matthews on an out pattern that came up well short of the marker.

Another opportunity vanished under similar circumstances midway through the second quarter. On third and 10 from the Iowa State 22, Cozart scrambled left and appeared to have an angle for the first down. But Cozart pulled up shy of the marker, stepping out of bounds nearly a yard short.

Weis challenged the spot, but it wasn’t really that close. The call was upheld, and Sims was stuffed on fourth and 1.

The Jayhawks came away empty again.

Iowa State, meanwhile, appeared to take advantage of the football field-turned-skating rink. The Cyclones’ opening touchdown came on a KU defensive breakdown — perhaps weather related? — as Iowa State’s Aaron Wimberly ran free on a 58-yard touchdown reception.

The Jayhawks had sent linebacker Jake Love on a blitz, and when Iowa State quarterback Grant Rohach moved up in the pocket, Love looked like he was running on ice. Iowa State would push the lead to 10-0 on a field goal with 13:09 left in the second quarter.

For Kansas, which will return home for its season finale against Kansas State next week, it would only get worse.

Worth noting — Kansas senior running back James Sims made history during the Jayhawks’ loss at Iowa State, becoming the first player in KU history to rush for 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons. Sims, who rushed for 1,013 yards last season, joined former Kansas running backs Tony Sands and June Henley as the only players with multiple 1,000-yard seasons. Sims, who finished with 21 carries for 114 yards Saturday, now has a career-high 1,028 yards on the season. Sims also increased his career total to 3,510 rushing yards, the third-most in Kansas history.

• Kansas has now lost four straight to Iowa State after beating the Cyclones five straight from 2005-09.

• Junior quarterback Jake Heaps completed 7 of 19 passes for 72 yards after replacing freshman Montell Cozart in the third quarter. Cozart returned in the fourth quarter.

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