Baylor vs Iowa State football: Game preview and prediction


Iowa State (1-2, 0-1) is no stranger to pulling major upsets in primetime in the friendly confines of Jack Trice Stadium. They’re also no stranger to defeating Baylor (3-0, 0-0) at home under the lights. The Cyclones are better equipped to take on the Bears in a game that no one is giving them a chance in after last year’s fiasco in Waco, and they’ll try to pull off the second-biggest victory in history.

(7)Baylor Bears vs Iowa State Cyclones

Jack Trice Stadium | Ames, Iowa
Saturday, September 27th, 2014
Kickoff – 7:20 PM CT | TV: FOX | Web: FOX Sports Go

More from Football

Last time Baylor came to Ames, they lost 35-21 as former linebacker Jake Knott stole the headlines playing hurt and in his last game of his career. Since that loss, Art Briles’ incredible offensive machine has been held under 30 points once. That was at a tough environment in Stillwater.

It’s crazy how much Baylor has improved since their last visit. From a team that barely was able to compete in Big 12 road games to becoming a national title contender once Briles installed his system. He’s picking up the right talent and it’s become so much more than just a one-hit wonder with Robert Griffin III under center.

Series history

Baylor opponents average 1.8 yards per carry. Iowa State averaged 1.2 yards per carry last year against the Bears.

Iowa State is an even 6-6 against Baylor in 12 meetings. The Bears are 4-2 in the last six meetings, started by their infamous victory in Ames back in 2005. While it wasn’t their first victory in Jack Trice Stadium, it was the school’s first Big 12 conference road win. Iowa State has won the last two games in Ames between the schools, and both of those games were also played at night.

Quick stats

  • Baylor has held their three opponents to 9 points a game, while scoring 59.3 points a game themselves.
  • Baylor opponents average 1.8 yards per carry. Iowa State averaged 1.2 yards per carry last year against the Bears.
  • Baylor is completing 59.2 percent of their 3rd downs (29-of-49) this season. Iowa State: 37.8 percent.
  • Baylor opponents are 3-for-3 in the red zone (one touchdown, two field goals). Iowa State opponents: 11-for-11.
  • Baylor averages 8.7 penalties against them per game (116th nationally). Iowa State averages 4 penalties less (27th nationally).

What to watch for

Sep 12, 2014; Buffalo, NY, USA; Baylor Bears quarterback Bryce Petty (14) during the game against the Buffalo Bulls at University of Buffalo Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Iowa State gave Baylor the momentum early last year and never regained it. That must change, and it’ll be a little easier in front of the home crowd. Any play that’s made on either offense or defense will continue to ramp up the crowd more and more. The Cyclones must fuel on that momentum. Their little 28-point run against Kansas State proves that they can succeed on offense against anybody.

Even though Iowa State should focus on passing the ball and exploiting Baylor’s young secondary, they have to move the ball on the ground. It’s something Paul Rhoads has been harping on continuously in press conferences and interviews. Hopefully Aaron Wimberly and DeVondrick Nealy can break some tackles and help take a little pressure off of Sam Richardson — there has to be some sort of run production, but the Bears haven’t flinched yet this year.

If possible, Iowa State has to let Baylor beat themselves. One knock on Baylor’s youth is that they’ve paid by getting flagged. Considering how tame the Cyclones are, they must use this to their advantage. A bend-but-not-break defense for ISU has simply not been there, allowing all 11 opponent possessions inside the red zone convert for a score.

Last but not least, don’t let Bryce Petty look like a Heisman contender. He dissected the Iowa State defense last year, and the receivers are so athletic that they can make any of Petty’s throws look like they only had an opportunity to catch it.


Read all the Big 12 and select top 25 predictions here

Oct 19, 2013; Waco, TX, USA; Iowa State Cyclones wide receiver Jarvis West (1) returns a punt against the Baylor Bears during the game at Floyd Casey Stadium. The Bears defeated the Cyclones 71-7. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

So far, my too-early predictions from early this summer have been correct. I predicted Iowa State to lose to NDSU and Kansas State, but then beat Iowa. I had the Cyclones also taking down the Bears at home.

The win over Iowa jumpstarted this team enough that’s not out of the realm of possibility it can happen. Just by looking at the defense, it’s no longer torched by running backs who re-enacted Moses parting the sea on every carry. This defense, now with the right pieces starting, has all the talent in the world to stop Baylor. Especially when the Bears have had four wide receivers down this season, and two of them are returning still slightly hobbled.

Iowa State’s offense also has enough talent to keep up with Baylor in a shootout. Richardson is so much smarter when it comes to passing the ball and scrambling to make something out of nothing. He takes less risks. Jarvis West has stepped up in a big way, and you know Allen Lazard can’t wait to test out the secondary. Obviously, Wimberly has to be hungry after getting knocked out early against the Bears last year.

It wouldn’t surprise me if Iowa State pulled out a victory on Saturday night. But I simply can’t pull the trigger. It’s going to be closer — much closer than the experts predict. Call me nuts, but I think the Iowa State offense will come through. But until the Cyclones can turn the corner and consistently pull out close victories, another heartbreaker could very well be in store.

Baylor 38, Iowa State 30