After their home game against Oklahoma State, Baylor will travel to Ames on November 10th to take on the Iowa State Cyclones. After a relative breakout season last year, many are fairly high on Iowa State this year, making this a tough road game.
Offensively, Iowa State loses one big piece from last season: Allen Lazard. Arguably one of the best receivers in the Big 12, the Cyclones lost its best 3rd down bailout option. The number of times Iowa State got out of third and long by throwing a jump ball to the tall and athletic Lazard was kind of mind boggling. However, the Cyclones return their other top bailout star: David Montgomery. Montgomery was arguably the best running back in the conference last year, making his mark as one of the best after-contact backs in the country. His ability to make more with less helped Iowa State last season and if his line can block a little better for him he’ll be that much better. The quarterback position is also stable after Kyle Kempt earned another year of eligibility. He won’t shock anyone with highlight reel plays, but he won’t blow the game either, which is something Iowa State has really needed for a while.
Defensively, Iowa State loses the leader of the defense (and team) in quarterback turned linebacker Joel Lanning. Still, there is a lot of reason to believe the Cyclones defense will be strong again in 2018 (at least in stopping the rush). Iowa State experimented with a 3-3-5 scheme in 2017 and found a surprising amount of success stopping the run. However, the defense faltered in stopping the pass, ranking near the bottom in many passing categories (granted, the Big 12 is very pass happy so some struggles are expected). Luckily for Iowa State, they return three senior cornerbacks. On the flip side, the safety spot will be much more up for grabs, with the top four safeties from last year leaving.
Iowa State is a team that could be a little better or a little worse than last season. A little worse puts them right on the edge of a bowl game. A little better could put them in the running for the #2 spot in the Big 12 Championship depending on how things shake out. Oddly enough, something else that could effect Iowa State’s season is how the Ohio State situation shakes out. Many are saying Iowa State’s coach Matt Campbell would be the top replacement candidate if Urban Meyer is fired. If rumors of that snowball or, even more unlikely, a move is made during the season, that could completely derail the mental attitude of the team as a whole. Nevertheless, Iowa State has a lot of talent (something that hasn’t been said about them in a good while) and really solid coaching as of now. This will be a tough road game for Baylor, but is certainly one that the Bears can pick up.