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Instant Reaction: Baylor @ Iowa State

Ohio v Iowa State Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images

Blake Shapen showed up and the Defense did their job as the Baylor Bears have their best win of the 2022 season, taking down Iowa State 31-24. The Cyclones had an 11 game conference home win streak, and the Bears hadn’t won in Ames since 2016. It’s the 4th straight one possession finish between the two, in what has become one of the more fun, budding rivalries in the Big 12.

The Baylor offense finally had the type of game fans were looking for, as Blake Shapen played his best this season, going 19-26 for 238 yards and 3 touchdowns. It was the most decisive Shapen has looked all season, and Jeff Grimes knew exactly how he wanted to attack the Cyclone defense, mixing in runs with lethal play action to extend drives. Shapen’s day was capped off by a beautiful trick play, as the QB found Gavin Holmes for 38 yards and a touchdown off of a reverse flea-flicker. That touchdown was the first time that Iowa State had given up points in the fourth quarter in 2022.

The run game was consistent and tough, as they wore down the ISU defense as the game went on. Richard Reese was the standout back again, grabbing 78 yards on 21 carries, the best of which was a 19 yard tough run for a TD. Sqwirl Williams was number 2 in the backfield, with 10 carries and 36 yards. Iowa State did a solid job making the running tough, but the O-Line and RBs worked together to grab the yards that were there for the taking.

This was one of the best games of the year for the receivers and tight ends. Having Ben Sims back in the lineup was a clear boost to the offense, as he grabbed 5 catches for 39 yards and a TD. Dillon Doyle was playing a tight end style position on his TD grab, so the position group will get credit for that one as well. Gavin Holmes had one of the best games of his career, going for 92 yards on 3 catches and a TD. Shapen really spread the ball around this group and didn’t allow the Cyclones to key in on any one guy, as 11 different receivers caught a pass today.

The Baylor defense delivered some of the best pressure that we’ve seen all year, sacking Hunter Dekkers 4 times. Dekkers often looked uncomfortable, leading to 2 interceptions and a few more close calls. The defense, unlike last season, completely shut down the ISU run game, holding them to 66 rushing yards and only 2.4 yards per carry. The defense gave up some big plays down the stretch, and two of the Cyclones’ touchdowns could have gone either way from a review standpoint, but the D did what they needed to do, and forced Iowa State into playing pass more often than they want to.

This is absolutely the biggest win for the Bears this year, winning in Ames is no small feat. Winning on the road will be a requirement this season, as the schedule doesn’t get any easier with Lubbock, Morgantown, Austin, and Norman still on the schedule. But, this was a crucial first step in defending our Big 12 crown. The team is showing improvement, and it’s not crazy to think this victory is the exact type of momentum the group needs to continue to improve and show the rest of the conference just how dangerous the 2022 iteration of the Bears is.