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Iowa State Cyclones vs. Baylor Bears Preview

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Campbell doesn’t care if the spread is 100, bring on Baylor!

Iowa State v Baylor Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

Matt Campbell looks to build upon his recent success, welcoming the legendary Troy Davis back to Ames. Oh, and that team from Baylor arrives to play a football game, too.

Number 28 will be honored (finally) for his induction into the College Football Hall of Fame. Check out this fantastic video courtesy of Cyclones.tv.

2016 Game V: Iowa State (1-3, 0-1) vs. #13 Baylor University (4-0, 1-0)

Time: 11 a.m. CDT

Location: Jack Trice Stadium, Ames, Iowa

Capacity: 61,500

Line: Baylor -16.5

Television: Fox Sports 1

Radio: Cyclone Radio Network

Game Notes/Release

Baylor Game Notes

SBN Nation Website – Our Daily Bears

When We Last Left Off

Iowa State gathered its first win of the young season 44-10, blowing out an underwhelming opponent in San Jose State. The defense forced four turnovers through the air, and the two-headed monster at quarterback threw the ball all over the field with success.

Both sides of the ball took a step forward, namely the offense. Starter Joel Lanning threw for two touchdowns, and breathing down his neck was backup Jacob Park and his impressive 15-for-19 performance and 3 touchdowns. There was a better push up front, as running back Mike Warren went more than 100 yards for the first time all year.

I noticed a hungry team out there last Saturday. One that didn’t cave after a disappointing 0-3 start. Campbell preaches “the process,” and it shows mentally as well as how the players are acting on the field and on the sidelines.

The defensive front struggled at times, but the secondary (which has been strong all year) came through in flying colors. With everyone at 100% it will be interesting to see how the 4-2-5 unit will play against Big 12 competition.

The Series

Baylor leads the all-time series 8-6, with ISU’s last victory coming in 2012, a 35-21 win behind Steele Jantz’s five touchdown passes. Oh, and legendary Cyclone Jake Knott’s last performance with a broken arm. That guy had balls of solid rock.

Baylor Tidbits

The Bears come in to Saturday’s affair with a 4-0 record, one of only two Big 12 teams to claim fame to an undefeated season. Not saying much, since the Big 12 is as bad as our debates we had the other night.

And also, due to the fact that Baylor has taken the Iowa approach to scheduling opponents, with their first three foes named Northwestern State, SMU, and Rice.

The only thing I remember Northwestern State by is this:

Baylor also went through some transgressions (if you can call them that) over the off season, firing legendary Art “Loves America” Briles. And what better way to appease the public than fire your entire staff (which they didn’t), and hire a complete opposite of Briles — Jim Grobe.

Grobe has had to put his foot in his mouth on occasion in the press, but so far has won with the players he has (not his). It will be interesting to see what he can do, as Baylor now is the only Big 12 team legitimate enough to compete for the College Football Playoff.

ISU Offense

Campbell made it clear that he will continue the musical chairs at quarterback, and why not? Both looked competent against SJSU, and shared the ball well amongst all receivers. Freshman Deshaunte Jones was a bright spot (with 2 TDs) and Allen Lazard continues to do Allen Lazard things.

I look for both to play two possessions at a time to start the game, but towards the latter, the coaching staff will have to ride the hot hand. At this point in time, you have to be cognizant of that long-flowing hair, er, accurate arm of Jacob Park. The man can flat out fling it, and he will probably be playing with a slight deficit in this one.

First Key to Victory — Chew the Clock

The only way ISU keeps it anywhere close is if they keep Baylor’s offense off the field. Campbell and offensive coordinator Tom Manning love to run the ball, but they may have to resort to the short-to-intermediate passing game. Baylor runs a 3-4 hybrid defense with more speed on the field, and ISU’s front five is going to have to pave the way for yards between the tackles. The Cyclones have to gain yards on 1st and 2nd down and sustain drives if they want to stay within reach.

Baylor was able to shut down Oklahoma State’s top WR James Washington last week, but other Cowboys took advantage. If the focus is on Lazard, enter in slot receivers Trever Ryen and Deshaunte Jones. Both have game-breaking speed and can change the momentum in a heartbeat.

If ISU can keep the game within two scores and the defense does its job, I see the Lanning/Warren show with a larger package of tight ends and lead blockers. If not, (more likely scenario) I see Jacob Park entering this contest to put up points on the scoreboard quickly.

Baylor Defense

Well, so far this unit is really good.

Save for the fact they played nobody in the first three weeks, this Baylor defense is still only allowing 142 yards through the air and ONE passing touchdown. Against a formidable passing attack last week, Oklahoma State tried to pound it out on the ground, with little success at 3.9 yards per carry. They converted multiple third-and-longs, but were unable to capitalize in the red zone. Uh oh.

With the new 3-4 look, Baylor plays a hybrid safety/linebacker similar to D’Andre Payne’s role, and so far Travon Blanchard has taken advantage of it. The junior won Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week honors last week, accounting for 11 tackles, 4.5 TFL and a forced fumble and recovery.

Defensive end K.J. Smith is another name to remember, as the 260-pound junior has 2.5 sacks and can stuff the front lines in the Bear’s three-man front. By the way those three down linemen only average 271 pounds and it is clear Baylor is negating beef for speed on the field. But so far it has worked, as teams only average 3.8 yards per carry.

Leading the speed in the back end is linebacker Taylor Young, coming off All Big-12 honors from a year ago. The 225-pound junior is on many watch lists, and has 24 starts to his name. Leading the team with 33 tackles is senior Aiavion (huh) Edwards. That is one name you have to look up to pronounce.

The secondary so far has been lights out, and will be a big test for ISU’s receivers. Baylor leads the country in defensive passing efficiency, and is seventh in passing yards per game. They are led by two senior cornerbacks in Orion Stewart and Tion Wright.

Verdict — Baylor

I noticed a lack of strength up front by the Baylor defense, but so far it has been working for them. Defensive Coordinator Phil Bennett preaches takeaways, and this unit is one of the best at it. If there’s any hope for ISU, it’s that they lack a decent pass rush. Still, with the amount of 5- and 4-star recruits (and speed) on the field for Baylor, this battle has to be given to the boys from Waco.

ISU Defense

We will play strength for strength in this one, as ISU also carries with them a formidable pass defense. So far on the year, led by a bevy of experienced cornerbacks, the Cyclones have only allowed 195 yards per game. Last week we saw more aggressiveness, paving the way for the first four interceptions of the year, and all by the cornerbacks.

Those boys will be busy in this one, as Baylor brings in a deadly passing attack, stretching the field on every boundary with deep passes down the sidelines and play-action seam routes up the middle. Brian Peavy and Jomal Wiltz will have their hands full, but the play of the safeties will be paramount.

Baylor loves to run play-action and hit their slot-receivers and/or tight ends up the middle of the field, evidenced by this big gain last week.

This play shows a blitz from the linebacker, but in normal situations the ball will go directly in that gap between the linebacker and safety. Our LB’s are slow (really slow), and Kamari Cotton-Moya and Mike Johnson will have to have the closing speed to either disrupt the route or knock the ball out with a vicious hit.

I hope the combination of D’Andre Payne and Evrett Edwards at nickel are on the field at all times, and maybe both of them on the field in certain situations. ISU has to counter with more speed, and that also means more Reggan Northrup and less Kane Seeley/Josh Jahlas.

Second Key to Victory – Try to Stop the Run

Take hint to the fact I put in the word “try” in this key. While Baylor has been racking up the yards video-game style over the years, everyone thinks they are a majority passing team. Actually, over the last five seasons they have run the ball on 58% of their plays, and are ranked number one in the country last season in rushing yards. This year is no different, and the ISU front four will have to cause chaos if our linebackers want to tackle Bear runningbacks less than five yards downfield.

That means Demond Tucker has got to step up. So far the heralded nose tackle has under-performed, and needs to show his potential. Also, our defensive ends need to hold their outside contain, as Russell loves to run on the outside. That probably means more JaQuan Bailey and Jhaustin Thomas. Those two are freak athletes and have the speed to catch up.

Our linebackers will be exposed tremendously in this one, but the defensive line could shake things up if they do their jobs. Look for a big day in the tackle column by Willie Harvey and Kamari Cotton-Moya. Those two will be sore come Sunday.

Baylor Offense

Baylor carries with them an All-American potential at quarterback in Seth Russell. Russell won Big 12 Player of the Week last week, throwing for 387 yards and 4 touchdowns in a win over Oklahoma State. Russell is a perfect 12-0 in his career as a starter, forced out with a neck injury only a season ago. The senior can not only pass it, but he can also run it as well.

Behind him is a three-headed monster at runningback, led by sophomore Terence Williams and his team-leading 289 yards. Not far behind is JaMycal Hasty (6.8 yards per carry) and Shock Linwood. All three combine for 784 yards in four games, and complement each other nicely.

A question mark heading into the season for Baylor was their lack of experience at offensive line. While they are led by Preseason All-American Kyle Fuller at center, the other four spots are all first-time starters. They have done their jobs, only allowing two sacks all year and leading Baylor to eighth in the country in total offense.

Top receiver KD Cannon is questionable with a groin injury, and will most likely sit this one out, but the next guy in for Baylor is just as good. Coming off suspension last week, Ishmael Zamora led all receivers with eight grabs for 175 yards and two touchdowns. Baylor is going to line up their receivers inches from the sidelines, and chuck it deep.

Their tempo will be as fast as a cat on a hot tin roof, and Seth Russell is as good as they come, completing 60% of his passes with 13 touchdowns on the year. I’m just glad I’m not Defensive Coordinator Jon Heacock.

Verdict — Baylor by a Secretariat Margin

Baylor is going to spread the ball out and find weaknesses on the field. Those flaws are in the first two lines of defense: front-four and linebackers. The secondary has shown us they can compete, but can only do so much. I see a big day from Baylor running the ball.

Special Teams

If there is one thing to hang our hats on it’s the God Damn Special Teams!

Cole Netten made his school-record 12th straight field goal (cross your fingers I didn’t jinx him), and Colin Downing is leading ISU to newer heights with #PunterU.

On the other side, it’s even better. Punt returner Trever Ryen ranks 2nd nationally in punt returns (26 yards per return) and true freshman Kene Nwangwu is fourth-best in country in kick-return average amongst freshman.

I’m not even going to mention Baylor’s specialists. It’s a landslide in this department for the good guys!

Verdict — ISU

Final Analysis

Well, it’s time for Matt Campbell to put on his big boy pants. Baylor comes to town ranked 13th in the country, and is the front-runner to win the Big 12. It was good to see success last week, and for this team to continue to improve.

Campbell is doing things the right way, and all I want to see is a team that is better at the end of the season. That may not come by way of a victory on the scoreboard, but it will shape this young team for who they can become in the near future. It’s great to see so much young talent on the field, and for these freshmen to get experience against Big 12 competition.

Baylor may be stymied by our passing defense, but at the end of the day they will run all over this depleted defensive front. I want to see some progress at the quarterback situation, and if Park can show us his true talent, then I say we ride his hot hand for the remainder of the season.

Oh ya, I forgot that last key to victory:

Third Key to Victory - Pray

Final Score

ISU 17

Baylor 42