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Baylor vs. Iowa State Preview/Prediction Thread

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The Bears leave the friendly confines of the State of Texas for the first time this season in traveling to Ames, Iowa to take on the Cyclones.

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13/13 BAYLOR (4-0, 1-0) vs. NR/NR Iowa State (1-3, 0-1)
Oct. 1, 2016 | 11 a.m. CT
Ames, Iowa | Jack Trice Stadium (61,500)

TV: FS1
Listen | Gametracker Gametracker | Game Notes Notes

OPPONENT: Iowa State Cyclones
ODB GAME HUB: Baylor Bears vs. Iowa State Cyclones 2016
BREAKDOWN:
Baylor vs. Iowa State
PODCAST:
Hooray for Ames!
OFFICIAL WEBSITE:
Iowa State Cyclones
MEDIA GUIDE: 2016 Iowa State Football Media Guide
DEPTH CHART (Iowa State): Click here.
LAST MEETING 45–27 Baylor | ODB Game Hub
LAST GAME: W; Iowa State 44-10 over San Jose State
SB NATION BLOG: Wide Right Natty Lite, at right
SPREAD: Baylor –16.5 (Open: Baylor –17)
TV COVERAGE: FS1, 11:00 AM Saturday

UNIFORMS: Green-White-Green

SBNATION PREVIEW: Preseason writeup about the Cyclones here.

The Big Picture:

Baylor is now 4-0 on the young season after winning at home last week against Oklahoma State.  Tomorrow morning, early, we face a 1-3 Iowa State team that would love nothing more than to catch Baylor looking forward to having two of the following three weeks off to rest and recuperate and hand us our first loss of the season.  And make no mistake about it; Iowa State hasn't been good this season by any stretch of the imagination, but they are more than capable of jumping up and beating somebody good, particularly at home, if that team doesn't take them seriously.  That's not a prediction; it's a warning.  And it's probably something our coaches have said about a thousand times this week.

Also, if you're expecting the same old Cyclones as we've seen in the past, think again.  Former Toledo Head Coach Matt Campbell took over the reins in Ames this past winter when Paul Rhoads was shown the door after seven seasons, and he's brought with him visions of a more dynamic team on both sides of the ball.  So far, I've seen that dynamism more on the defensive side, but my guess is that's more of a roster issue than anything else.

Injuries:

WR K.D. Cannon -- QUESTIONABLE -- We haven't gotten much, if any, word about his status for this week, but I'm going to go ahead and predict that he'll sit out this and the Kansas game to get a full month of rest for his groin injury.  Those tend to linger, and we're going to need him.  It's what I'd do.

To my knowledge, no other major contributors are even questionable for this game.  CB Ryan Reid and S Orion Stewart should both be able to play once again this week (Stewart obviously having played last week).  Please correct me in the comments if I'm wrong.

Advanced Stats:

Category

Baylor (4-0)

ISU (1-3)

EDGE

Overall F/+ Rk 15 (33.3%)
97 (-24.4%)
BAYLOR
Overall FEI Rk 21 (.131)
115 (-.191)
BAYLOR
Overall S&P+ Rk 12 (16.9)
85 (-3.9)
BAYLOR
Field Position Advantage ---
---
---

Last week's win was apparently enough to give the Bears their first positive momentum of the season in the advanced rankings, where we rose 7 spots in F/+.  Iowa State also rose coming off their win over San Jose State, although only by 1 spot from 98 to 97.

We still don't have the full complement of advanced statistics at our disposal, but we're getting there.  Here's how the various units weigh out against each other for tomorrow's game according to S&P+.

Baylor Defense -- #13
Iowa State Special Teams -- #22
Baylor Offense -- #33
Baylor Special Teams -- #69
Iowa State Defense -- #82
Iowa State Offense -- #83

You read those stats correctly -- according to S&P+, Baylor is the proud owner of the #13 defense so far and just the #33 offense.  Bet you didn't see that coming when the season started.

Players to Watch (for ISU):

RB Mike Warren (#2): #2 in the program, #1 in the hearts of Cyclones fans, Mike Warren leads the way for ISU's rushing attack with 61 carries for 256 yards and 1 TD so far this season.  If I'm ISU, I look at what OSU was able to do in keeping our offense off the field last week by pounding the rock and try to emulate that as much as possible with Warren.  Whether it works or not will be up to our defense and their questionable ability to get off the field on third downs.  Of course, ISU won't have Mason Rudolph to try to bail them out of jams, either.  Instead, they'll have...

QB Joel Lanning (#7): For reasons that are not altogether clear to me at this moment, Lanning didn't play in last week's game against SJSU.  In that game, ISU went with sophomore Jacob Park.  I'm going to guess an injury of some kind played into that decision, but it appears Lanning is back this week.  He's also the same guy that, if you'll recall, helped the Cyclones outscore the Bears 27-10 last year to close out the game after Seth Russell left with his neck injury.

WR Allen Lazard (#5): The 6-5 Lazard is ISU's other offensive star (after Warren) and has 18 catches for 295 yards and 2 TDs on the season.  Expect for Baylor to bracket him the same way we did James Washington a week ago, with the added good news that ISU doesn't have the same caliber of secondary receivers as OSU.  But Lazard is a beast, don't get me wrong.

DB Kamari Cotton-Moya (#5): It wasn't easy picking one guy from the defense to highlight, but I eventually went with Moya, who is second on the team in tackles with 30 (for comparison, Pat Levels is second on Baylor's team with 30, as well).  Moya starts at safety opposite Mike Johnston, who is apparently a freshman.

My Prediction

I'm going to dispense my usual numbered list of keys, since I'd probably just end up saying "start fast!!!" a bunch of times, and instead say that Baylor's mindset going into the game could be determinative of the outcome.  I like what I've seen so far in that arena and do not attribute any of our struggles so far, to the extent they have existed, to that.  Instead, I think we've seen more or less the natural results of a QB coming back from injury trying to reestablish a connection at full game speed with his WRs, an almost entirely new OL trying to gel, and lingering injuries to Shock Linwood that have left Terence Williams and JaMycal Hasty carrying more of the load than previously expected.

The bottom line is that as much as I expect Iowa State to improve going forward based on the respect I have for Matt Campbell, they're not there yet.  Baylor is favored to beat them by more or less 3 scores, and that should happen barring some crazy outcome that may see this blog implode in on itself.  The key will be avoiding the traditional pitfalls of teams trying to get upset: turnovers, penalties, turnovers, (giving up) explosive plays, turnovers, and a lackadaisical attitude.  Oh, and turnovers.  Considering what we've seen on defense so far this season, I'm confident that even if the offense starts slow, we'll eventually get going enough to pull away. Seth Russell and Ishmael Zamora combine for another big day through the air in Cannon's absence, and the running game finally gets going a little bit to make this one less stressful in the second half.

Final Score: Baylor 44, Iowa State 20.

Oklahoma State Postmortem:

So my prediction for last week was off by 4 points.  I had the Bears winning 38-31, and we actually won 35-24.  ODB as a whole might have done even better, with 72% of respondents voting for either a close (1-10) or intermediate (11-20) victory. Considering we ended up winning by 11, basically the middle of those two ranges, I'll take that.  Good job, everyone!