With 8:14 to go in the second quarter, Baylor led over Iowa State 35-0 and even Cyclones fans were telling me on Twitter that the game was over. Then, over the next 30 full minutes of the game, Baylor didn't score, Iowa State scored 20, and things got way more dicey than anyone ever expected. The defense, which allowed just 46 total yards through the first quarter-and-a-half, gave up more than 300 the rest of the way. The offense, which looked unfazed by the rain early on, completely turtled in the third quarter and never really recovered, and the Bears, a dominant force of nature through the first 6.5 games of the season, suddenly looked mortal in the rain.
With 8:14 to go in the second quarter, we were wondering when our starters might get out of the game and how many points we'd score-- whether we'd break that 60-point streak or fall just short. As it turned out, the starters would stick around until after Jamal Palmer ended Iowa State's penultimate drive and Seth Russell got his bell rung on a third-down play.
I fully realize that it looks somewhat ridiculous to complain in any way after a 18-point conference win in monsoon conditions that took the crowd out of the game. It's also ridiculous to expect that any team playing at a really high level would continue to do so in every single game. After all, virtually everyone that we might compete with to make the CFB Playoff has had a clunker or two (or, in the case of Ohio State and/or TCU, more than two), or actually lost a game.
My personal frustration stems not from only scoring 45 points or not blowing out Iowa State as we should have; it stems from the certainty that someone, somewhere is going to use this game as part of an argument against us, context be damned, and I hate that.
If you're looking at the bright side, you'd note the fact that the biggest problem we had -- stopping the run -- would be greatly alleviated by having our best defensive player, Andrew Billings, back in two weeks. The defense created 4 turnovers, including 2 good interceptions. As much as I hate to blame it, the weather was clearly a factor.
- All kinds of streaks fell today with the Baylor offense scoring "just" 45 points and putting up "only" 491 yards. Shock Linwood had a strong statistical game with 27 carries for 171 yards and a TD (and another receiving), but Seth Russell finished 16/37 passing for 197 yards and 2 TDs with an INT. This one isn't going on his Heisman reel, is what I'm saying.
- The defense took a lot of heat for the way it performed against the run, and a lot of that was directed specifically against MLB Grant Campbell. That defense was, of course, without key cog Andrew Billings, and I'm going to hold off on a final grade until I watch this game over again. I will say that it looks like ISU found their QB of the present, at least, in Joel Lanning. There's no reason they should go back to Sam Richardson after the way Lanning played.
- I have a lot of questions about the play-calling today, which started off sketchy and didn't really get better. We seemed committed to proving that we could throw the ball in the rain as a way of opening up the run, but it never really worked the way we probably expected. Seth was off throughout, having four passes batted down at the line and throwing a really bad interception in the second quarter, and just never got going.
- Even with that in mind, our fans have got to chill out with the in-game demands for Seth to be pulled when things don't go our way. He's the starting QB for a reason, and that reason is that he's really freaking good. That's not going to change in one half, or one quarter, or even one game. Plus, Art Briles isn't Steve Spurrier, and I can't think of a single instance where he actually pulled a QB for poor production since RGIII took over for Kirby Freeman in 2008.
- It's a disappointing game, but it's not crippling in any sense for Baylor's rankings or our chances at the CFB Playoff. We won a conference game in less-than-inspiring fashion. It happens.
|3rd down efficiency||5-16||7-15|
|4th down efficiency||2-3||2-2|
|Yards per pass||5.0||5.5|
|Yards per rush||4.2||5.6|