Iowa State football is at the top of the Big 12 standings heading into Week 10, but will the Cyclones remain there after a battle with Baylor?
Coming into the season, many outside of Ames, Iowa, did not expect to see the Cyclones tied for the conference lead heading into the beginning of November. Led by an elite running back and a defense with tenacity, there isn’t much of a surprise, they look the part of contenders.
What many expected out of the Cyclones was an elite passing game, with senior Brock Purdy at the helm with key pass-catches in Charlie Kolar, Chase Allen and Xavier Hutchinson. However, it has been sophomore Breece Hall, that has been the most impactful running back in the conference, even out-performing Heisman-hopeful Chuba Hubbard from Oklahoma State.
There’s a valid reason for the praise of the 19-year-old. Some are heralding him as RB1 for the 2022 NFL Draft Class. Hall has enjoyed a 900-yard season, to go along with 11 touchdowns in just six games this season. The duo of him and the passing game makes Iowa State so hard to game plan against, because there are too many dynamic and unique players on offense.
On the other hand, consistent offense is something Baylor has been desperately hoping for. The Bears are coming off a 33-23 loss to TCU in Waco. However, the score was not the indication of how the Bears played offensively.
Baylor was down 30-0 at one point, and had a comeback that fell short. This is not new to Baylor as they have struggled mightily in finding a run game. Their two returning main running backs in John Lovett and Trestan Ebner have combined for just 199 yards.
The leading rusher for the Bears has been redshirt freshman Craig Williams. Williams has an outstanding 9.4 yards per carry for 169 yards and two touchdowns.
Defensively, both teams are anchored by solid linebacker play with the captains of each area will be All-Big 12 members by seasons end. Iowa State’s Mike Rose has played tremendously on the season, recording 45 tackles for 4.5 tackles for loss and 0.5 sacks. That goes along with his two interceptions and a pass deflection.
Maybe even more impressive numbers from Baylor’s Terrel Bernard, as he accumulated 47 tackles, for 5.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and an interception in only four games played.
Last year’s contest featured a near 20 point blown lead in Waco. Until John Mayers connected on the go ahead field goal near the end of the game as the Bears would hold on to an early season, 23-20 victory.
There has been bad blood between both teams over the past few years and a good reason for that.
Here’s how to watch the game between the Cyclones and Bears.
Date: Saturday, Nov. 7
Time: 7 p.m. ET
Location: Ames, Iowa
Venue: Jack Trice Stadium
TV: FOX Sports 1
Stream: FOX Sports Go
Keys to Victory
For the Cyclones, it’s to get a good start early on. Letting Baylor hang around, could create issues as the Bears seem to figure out their offensive struggles in the second half. Over the past two games, in the fourth quarter of Texas and second half of TCU, the Bears are outscoring those opponents 29-3.
Baylor’s defense is considered to be above average, getting a quick start is certainly capable. The Horned Frogs did it last week and that second half performance continues to grow questions for TCU.
Baylor has to create some sort of rhythm in the rushing game. When Charlie Brewer is given time, he can still make good throws and should be under center for the Bears. However, the run game has been abysmal, with the lone bright spot being Williams’s 10 carries, 91 yards and a touchdown last week.
The Bears struggled on offense last time in Ames as they were not able to dig out of the hole. If that continues, it will be a very hard task for Baylor to pick up their second win on the season.
Baylor gave up 119 yards and a touchdown to freshman Darwin Barlow last week, after letting West Virginia running back Leddie Brown have a monster game in their second matchup. Baylor can be occasionally weak at stopping the run and that’s not what the Bears need.
Iowa State does strike early and their defense holds strong, keeping Baylor one-dimensional. Charlie Brewer tosses a few touchdowns, but Brock Purdy steals the show. Him and Hall do enough as Iowa State stays in the conference championship race.
Final Score: Iowa State 34, Baylor 21