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Baylor vs. Iowa State Preview / Prediction Thread

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I thought I could just not do one, but I was wrong.

Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports
vs.
2/2 BAYLOR (6–0, 3–0) vs. NR/NR Iowa State (2–4, 1–2)
Oct. 24, 2015 | 11 a.m. CT
Waco, Texas | McLane Stadium (45,140)

TV: ESPN
Watch | Listen | Gametracker Gametracker | Game Notes Notes

OPPONENT: Iowa State Cyclones
ODB GAME HUB: Baylor Bears vs. Iowa State Cyclones 2015
MEET THE PRESS: Baylor vs. ISU
FIRST LOOK: Baylor vs. ISU
PREDICT THE SCORE: Baylor vs. ISU
ADVANCED STATS PREVIEW: Baylor vs. ISU
ROLL CALL: Baylor vs. ISU
SB NATION BLOG: Wide Right & Natty Light, at right
SPREAD: Baylor –37 (Open: Baylor –37)
TV COVERAGE: ABC/ESPN2, 11:00 a.m. CDT
WEATHER FORECAST: Rainy with a high of 76°, SSW winds 5–10mph (wunderground puts game time temp at 73°)

SBNation.com ISU Preview
baylorbears.com Preview
Cyclones vs Bears coverage

So I'm sitting here on a Friday night watching Baylor 3.0 play against Memphis, and I tried to let myself not write this post.  But I can't.  So even though this is going to be significantly abbreviated, we're doing it.

INJURY/SUSPENSION NEWS:

Baylor -- The big question here will be the status of Andrew Billings, Baylor's star defensive tackle.  He reportedly wants to play, but the smart money says that with a wet field tomorrow, he'll likely sit.

Iowa State --  According to the Des Moines Register, injuries could sideline Cyclone starters Allen Lazard and Kamari Cotton-Moya for tomorrow's game. To say those would be HUGE losses is an understatement.  Both players apparently made the trip to Waco, and the coaching staff has not yet confirmed that they will miss the game*, so that's something to watch.

*Important to note: I have no idea why you would confirm that two of your best players are not going to play, particularly when one is a WR.  Make your opponents plan for them.

Commenters on WRNL have been talking about a forum post on another ISU site saying that DEs Jhaustin Thomas and Trent Taylor and DB Kenneth Lynn will also miss the game.  I have no idea if those rumors are true, and the ISU people seem to be dismissing them fairly quickly.

ADVANCED STATS:

As always, I highly recommend you go check out Peter's Advanced Stats post for this week's game, linked above.

Here's the 35,000-foot level.

Category

Baylor (6-0)

ISU (2-4)

EDGE

Overall F/+ Rk 3 (50.7%)
77 (-6.3%)
BAYLOR
Overall FEI Rk 5 (0.233)
83 (-.068)
BAYLOR
Overall S&P+ Rk 4 (23.1)
63 (1.6)
BAYLOR
Field Position Advantage ---
---
---

Before any Cyclone fans freak out, the EDGE category here is entirely arbitrary.  0-10 ranking spots different = EVEN.  11-40 = Standard Case for whichever team. 41+ = ALL CAPS for that team.

Players to Watch (for Iowa State):

Going to buzz through this as quickly as I can.

#12 QB Sam Richardson -- Hasn't been all that great this year with a 129.0 QB rating and 8 TDs against 6 INTs, but he's the QB, so we need to know him.  The best news I have for you is that Richardson has rushed 42 times this season for a grand total of 23 yards.  A dynamic running threat, he is not.

#2 Mike Warren -- The straw that stirs the ISU drink so far this season, Warren -- a true freshman -- has 93 carries for 652 yards (7.0 yards/carry) and 3 TDs. He's looked really good in the Cyclones' first six games and is actually the Big 12's leading rusher in conference play.  He's a good.

#5 Allen Lazard -- I'm listing him here despite his unknown status because he's a 6-5 monster of a WR.  If he plays, expect fades all day.  If he doesn't, be thankful.

What I'll Be Watching For:

The Impact of the Weather / A Delay: We've devoted considerable attention this week to the potential impact of the weather on whether this game would be played, how the teams would play, etc.  One thing we haven't talked about as much is the potential for a delay in start time.  If that happens, I'll be interested to see how the team reacts after sitting around for however long and waiting to get things going.  Do they come out flat? Do they keep their edge? We have no way of knowing.

Playing Down to our Opponent: No disrespect intended to Iowa State, but Baylor is the favorite in this game for a reason.  It may be somewhat nonsensical to worry about considering we've played "lesser" teams before, but I want to see a Baylor squad ready to do what needs to be done in conditions that could be anywhere from bad to awful.

The Passing Game: Is this going to be a grind-it-out game for 60 minutes, or will the Bears keep their high-flying ways, if only somewhat?  This goes back to the weather, obviously, and the potential impact of slippery footballs, dropped passes (it's going to happen), and rain in the eyes.  Throw in here that we absolutely must limit turnovers, which could be a problem due, again, to the wet footballs.

My Prediction:

Last week was my worst since Lamar with a final score of 62-38 throwing my 56-31 prediction off by 13 points.  I'm going to try to bounce back with Iowa State, but I have zero confidence it's going to happen.

Perusing the ISU threads in various places, it's kinda funny that they seem to be more confident in Baylor tomorrow than I am.  I'm seeing a lot of 60 and 70-point scores for the Bears, but I just don't see it.  I think this game comes in right around the spread, with Baylor in the 50s and Iowa State somewhere in the teens, but I don't think the Bears will get the record-breaking sixth 60-point game in a row.  With the weather slowing things down somewhat and both teams running the ball frequently, I don't see it happening.

Final Score: Baylor 56, ISU 17*.

*I have no idea why I'm predicting that ISU will kick a field goal, but I am.