The Iowa State Cyclones lost to the Baylor Bears 45-27 today in a game that looked like it would be a blowout, but ended up turning into a competitive matchup in the second half. Iowa State's defense managed to hold Baylor to their smallest point total all year, as well as the Bears' first time under 50 points this season. Plus, Cyclone fans were given their largest glimpse yet into what Joel Lanning can bring to the table at quarterback, as he helped ISU mount a small comeback against one of the best teams in college football..
I'll spare you the details of how, exactly, but Baylor jumped out to a 35-0 lead in the first half. Iowa State starting quarterback Sam Richardson accumulated paltry stats of 3/11 passing for 12 yards, including two interceptions. The poor performance out of Richardson prompted head coach Paul Rhoads to sub in backup QB Lanning with about five minutes left in the 2nd quarter.
After being inserted into the game, Lanning marched the Cyclone offense down the field for an eight play, 75 yard drive that was capped with a Joshua Thomas rushing touchdown from the 3 yard line. The touchdown was Thomas' fifth of the season, and sent the Cyclones into the locker room down 35-7 at the half.
Iowa State got the ball to start the 3rd quarter, and Lanning once again led a great scoring drive. The ISU offense got all the way down to the Baylor 1 yard line, were stuffed on two consecutive run plays up the gut, then converted on a nifty play action rollout that saw Lanning find Quenton Bundrage on the right side of the end zone for a touchdown. The score cut the Baylor lead to 35-14.
All throughout the 3rd quarter, the Iowa State defense tipped passes at the line and made Baylor's quarterback, Seth Russell, visibly frustrated. The Bears were unable to score at all in the 3rd quarter - only the second time that's happened all year.
ISU was once again driving down the field to start the 4th period, but running back Mike Warren was stuffed on a "go for it" situation on 4th and 1. That stop from the Baylor defense took the wind out of Iowa State's sails for a moment, but BU running back Johnny Jefferson coughed the ball up just three plays later and the Cyclones got the ball back with great field position close to midfield.
Eight plays and 56 yards later, Lanning threw a beautiful pass to the back right corner of the end zone, and sophomore wide receiver Jauan Wesley hauled in the throw and got a foot down under heavy pressure from a Baylor defensive back for six points. Unfortunately, kicker Cole Netten pulled the PAT to the left and the margin stayed at 15 points - 35-20, Bears.
Riverboat gambler Paul Rhoads called for a surprise onside kick attempt with 7:47 left in the game, and Iowa State had a player in position to field the kick, but Netten's kick failed to travel 10 yards and went out of bounds, which gave Baylor the ball at the ISU 35 yard line. The Cyclones were able to stop the Bears from scoring a touchdown, but a 34 yard field goal from Chris Callahan increased the lead to 18 points with just 5:31 left on the clock.
Any hopes of pulling off the miracle comeback victory were erased on the ensuing Iowa State possession, as Baylor defensive end Jamal Palmer raced around the end and knocked the football free from Lanning's hands. K.J. Smith jumped on the ball for the Bears, and five plays later, backup QB Jarrett Stidham found star wide receiver Corey Coleman for the "cherry on top" touchdown.
The last score of the game came on a nice 29 yard catch and run from Quenton Bundrage in garbage time. It was Lanning's third TD pass of the game, and he finished with a stat line of 12/17 passing for 144 yards.
Mike Warren once again proved why he's one of the best freshmen running backs in the country, tallying 145 yards on the ground on 28 carries. His backup, Joshua Thomas, also had a good day with 77 yards and one touchdown on 13 carries.
Iowa State's next game is against Texas on Halloween. That game will kick off at 6:00 p.m. and be broadcast on Fox Sports 1.