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First Look: Iowa State Cyclones

Game Day information, TV listings, tickets, links, previews, and everything else for Baylor's Homecoming matchup with the Iowa State Cyclones, this Saturday at Floyd Casey Stadium.

John Weast

12/12 BAYLOR (5-0, 2-0) vs. NR/NR IOWA STATE (1-4, 0-2)
Oct. 19, 2013 | 6:00 p.m. CT
Waco, Texas | Floyd Casey Stadium (50,000)

Listen | GametrackerGametracker | Game NotesNotes | Tickets | In-Game BlogSportStream | Gameday Central

OPPONENT: Iowa State Cyclones (Big 12)
2013 ROSTER, DEPTH CHART (opens as a .pdf)
LAST MEETING: 32-21 Iowa State win, ODB Game Hub, Lowlights
LAST GAME (for ISU): 42-35 loss to #20 Texas Tech (in Lubbock)
SB NATION BLOG: Wide Right & Natty Lite (it's outstanding, please give them a look)
SPREAD: Baylor -31.5 (opened at BU -33)
WEATHER FORECAST: High of 72 for Saturday, 30% chance of rain

SB Nation Preview: ISU Goes Slow and Steady

Before we do anything else, click that link for last year's game and look at it.  I know it hurts but look at it.  What an awful game that was.  We'd lost three in a row, so things were pretty bad in most Baylor circles. Then we went to Ames and a combination of good ISU defense (as detailed by Ian Boyd this summer) and a misfiring Baylor offense, as well as Steele Jantz doing whatever the heck he wanted to against our own defense, led to a 35-21 loss.  That might have been the lowest I've felt as a Baylor fan in a long time, as you can see. Let's move on.

Cyclones Football Schedule

Northern Iowa Sat 08/31 L 20 - 28
Iowa Sat 09/14 L 21 - 27
@ Tulsa Thu 09/26 W 38 - 21
Texas Thu 10/03 L 30 - 31
@ Texas Tech Sat 10/12 L 35 - 42
@ Baylor Sat 10/19 6:00 PM CDT
Oklahoma St. Sat 10/26 11:00 AM CDT
@ Kansas St. Sat 11/02 TBA
TCU Sat 11/09 TBA
@ Oklahoma Sat 11/16 TBA
Kansas Sat 11/23 TBA
@ West Virginia Sat 11/30 TBA

There's probably no way you can be an Iowa State fan this season and not be at least somewhat disappointed in how things have gone.  Yes, your four losses were by a combined 22 points.  You haven't lost a single game by more than a touchdown (plus a 2-point conversion, as was the case with the Northern Iowa game).  You were royally screwed out of a win at home over Texas that could have turned things around, and you lost to Northern Iowa to kick off the season.  All that is true.

It's also true that you're not nearly as bad as 1-4 (0-2 in-conference) suggests.  As I said, the only reason you didn't beat Texas was that the refs hate you.  You lost to Texas Tech in Lubbock by a touchdown and scored 35 points on possibly the second-best defense in the conference.  FEI ranks you 37th in the country with a middle-of-the-pack offense and a defense slightly worse than that, while S&P+ has you 69th and climbing.  You are better than your record looks.

You're probably also better than a 31-point spread, which is why that, too, is coming down.

Iowa State Cyclones Team Stats

Stat Rank Value
Total Offense 81 387.4
Rushing Offense 84 150.0
Passing Offense 65 237.4
Team Passing Efficiency 74 126.09
Scoring Offense 73 28.8
Total Defense 101 447.6
Rushing Defense 87 180.4
Passing Yards Allowed 100 267.2
Team Passing Efficiency Defense 74 130.80
Scoring Defense 87 29.8
Turnover Margin 13 1.2
3rd Down Conversion Pct 67 0.402
4th Down Conversion Pct T-18 0.667
3rd Down Converstion Pct Defense T-86 0.419
4th Down Conversion Pct Defense 121 0.857
Red Zone Offense 1 1.000
Red Zone Defense T-56 0.824
Net Punting 10 41.00
Punt Returns 42 10.50
Kickoff Returns 16 25.63
First Downs Offense T-109 99
First Downs Defense T-68 125
Fewest Penalties Per Game T-40 5.20
Fewest Penatly Yards Per Game 64 49.20
Time of Possession 46 30:47
View Complete Ranking Summary

You get the idea here: "meh" offense, "meh" defense, and pretty awesome special teams.  That's about what FEI says, too, although FEI likes the offense a bit more than the absolute measures, ranking it 50th overall.

Iowa State doesn't do anything exceptionally well except not turn the ball over and score in the red zone.  They actually lead the nation in the latter, which is something that could be a problem for a defense founded on the principle that we bend but don't break.  The key will be keeping them out of the red zone by limiting big plays and stopping methodical drives.  My guess is they'll at least try to do the same thing Kansas State did this past week by limiting our number of possessions, and as we saw from Daniel Sams, a running game is absolutely critical to that effort.  On that point, FEI and S&P+ disagree somewhat on their likelihood to be successful.  S&P+ likes the ISU running game, ranking it 39th in the country.  That's bad for us.  FEI, however, has serious doubts about their ability to churn out methodical drives, ranking them 111th in that area. I'm not sure why this apparent discrepancy exists, other than the fact that methodical drives can be made up of passing plays, as well, and Iowa State does not throw the ball well.

With Sam Richardson playing the role of Daniel Sams this week, and Iowa State having seen what KSU did to us in Manhattan, I expect Phil Bennett's staff to emphasize the QB run in practice this week in order to avoid a repeat performance.  It only makes sense; even if we don't see Richardson doing it this week, which we probably will, you know we will see it from Trevone Boykin and J.W. Walsh, eventually.  Nothing is more important to this game than limiting ISU's ability to run the football, in order to give the ball back to our offense, establish a tempo of our own, and pull ISU out of their game plan.  We didn't get that done against KSU; we have to this week against the Cyclones.

Should Baylor win this game on Saturday, it will be 6-0 for the first time in the lifetime of any player on the team right now, securing bowl eligibility in the fastest possible time.  It's also Homecoming, which means the crowd should be quite good, and the tailgating even better with the festivities of the day occurring mostly in the morning.  I hope the ODB community is well-represented at the game (we'll do a poll later this week), and Baylor shows well in front of a national crowd on ESPNU.  The game starts at 6:00 PM, and the weather looks favorable to this point.

Don't be surprised if the spread on this game comes down massively before kickoff.  It was Baylor -33 when the lines opened on Sunday, and it has already dropped a point and a half since then.  I wouldn't be shocked by 5 or 6 more before Saturday.  33 points was too many for Baylor to give in a conference game, anyway, and ISU is better than I think people give them credit for being.

I guess we'll see.


  • Do you see Baylor being able to stop the run against ISU's tandem of Aaron Wimberly and Sam Richardson?  Wimberly is reportedly banged up a bit coming into this game but will play.
  • How important is it to you that Baylor establishes a running game like we failed to do, until late, against Kansas State?  S&P+ has the ISU run defense ranked 107th in the country.
  • The uniform combo has to be gold (traditional), green, gold right?  They wouldn't do anything else for Homecoming, would they?
  • Is there anything else you'd like to see in these FIRST LOOKS going forward?  Remember, they are not designed to be all-encompassing, which is why I do other previews throughout the week.  Really, it's just supposed to get discussion started and to refocus the community to that week's opponent (something that will be thwarted by the Grades Report tonight, I'm sure).

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