October 27, 2012; Ames, IA, USA; Iowa State Cyclones wide receiver Jarvis West (1) catches the touchdown pass against the Baylor Bears at Jack Trice Stadium. Iowa State beat Baylor 35-21. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Iowa State Cyclones at Baylor Bears: Five keys to victory

Let’s be honest for a couple minutes. Iowa State’s road test at Waco will be the toughest they’ve faced all season, possibly the toughest game on the entire schedule. There’s such a big difference from one year ago when we thought the Cyclones had a chance.

This year? It feels like fans should be happy if they hold the Bears to under 60 points.

However, Baylor, like every other team, has its faults. Exposing those, with a little bit of luck, could give the Cyclones a chance.

1. Sam Richardson and Aaron Wimberly have to be healthy.

Both of Iowa State’s better players must be in the game for all 60 minutes. They’re dealing with lingering injuries that will likely impact the contest, but just having them in there will give the Cyclones a glimmer of hope. Kansas State showed that Baylor’s defense is weakest at running the ball. Richardson’s scrambling and Wimberly’s legs must give the offense at least 200 yards of production.

2. ISU’s defense cannot miss tackles.

After the pathetic display of tackling a week ago, it’s incredibly scary to think what Lance Seastrunk can do against them. They need to find some way to contain him, hold him to under 200 yards while also not letting any other running back become a major impact in the game. If Iowa State can hold Baylor to around 200 rushing yards, they have a chance to stay in the game.

3. ISU’s defense must force turnovers.

There’s a lot of talk on how the Cyclones need to maintain control of the clock. That doesn’t matter to Baylor who can score at Oregon-like speeds of two minutes or less. Bottom line: Iowa State needs to get about three turnovers or more to be in a position to win. This defense has shown all year that it can’t just stop teams consistently.

4. ISU’s special teams need to rise again for a second consecutive week.

Paul Rhoads may want to consider quite a few onside kicks if the Cyclones can’t stop Baylor. Eliminating possessions for Baylor is a huge must. Special teams players need to go after big plays like last week.

5. Don’t get discouraged early on.

If Baylor throws up three touchdowns before you’re able to sit down with your pitcher at the bar, don’t give up hope. Iowa State has a quick-strike offense that’s been putting up points since the game against Tulsa. They can easily get into the 30’s or 40’s especially if a running game can open up Richardson’s passing game.

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