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2017 Game XI: Iowa State vs. Baylor Football Preview

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Down to Waco, TX the Cyclones go - to play Dumpster Fire Baylor...

NCAA Football: Baylor at Iowa State Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

2017 Game XI: Iowa State (6-4, 4-4) vs. Baylor (1-9, 1-6)

Date: Saturday, November 18th, 2017

Time: 1:30 P.M. CST

Location: McLane Stadium, Waco, TX

Capacity: 45,140 (but only a few will show up)

Line: Iowa State -9.5

Television: FSN

Radio: Cyclone Radio Network

Game Notes/Release

Baylor Website

Baylor SB Nation WebsiteOur Daily Bears

I’m sure all you Cyclone fans out there think ISU got hosed on that interception at the end of the game.

Whether it was the right call or not, I love, love, love Matt Campbell’s response to the controversial call:

“I could sit here and complain about it, but that’s not who we are, and that’s not what we do. There’s a million different plays we could have made in the game to not be put in that situation.” –Matt Campbell

That was true – there were multiple plays (especially in that electric fourth quarter) where ISU needed to make plays, and that interception did not decide the game.

  1. 5:55 mark - 3rd and 22 – Oklahoma State converts a long touchdown pass over the outstretched arms of D’Andre Payne
  2. 5:01 – After a 3-and-out, Colin Downing punts the ball 30 yards to the Cowboys and gives them a short field. They in turn score on quick drive
  3. 0:53 – 4th and 13 – Zeb Noland dumps off to David Montgomery, and the slithery running back breaks tackles like King Kong through the jungle for a first down

Iowa State made some of those little plays, but Oklahoma State made a few more to squeak out of Ames with a victory.

That brings up another point. Wrong, right or indifferent, this Cyclone team has played up to their competition. Their four losses have come by a combined 24 points, and I have yet to see this team lay an egg.

Look at our friends to the East – they go from putting up 55 points versus Ohio State, to only gaining 66 yards against Wisconsin.

You fans are lucky we have a coach that prepares his players each and every week, and gets them to play at a high level, no matter the competition.

When we last left off….

ISU lost a heartbreaker last week versus a very good Oklahoma State team. The defense counter-attacked with different looks and schemes, but each time ISU made an adjustment, so did Okie State. It was a hard fought battle, but in the end the better team won.

I was uber-impressed with our fourth-string quarterback Zeb Noland, coming in to replace starter Kyle Kempt. The freshman out of Georgia has a cannon for an arm, and quite honestly added another dimension to the playbook. His confidence level grew, and I am excited for his future.

With that being said, there are still two games left, and we aren’t playing for 2018. If Kyle Kempt is healthy, he deserves to be the starter, and according to Coach Campbell he should at least be an option.

ISU continues to show the world that they can compete in a multitude of ways. Win in a defensive slugfest versus TCU, no problem. Match Oklahoma State score for score, let’s do it. Now, I wouldn’t recommend the Cyclones implementing the Kliff-Kingsbury (I Have To Score More Than You Because My Defense Stinks) attack, but it is refreshing to see that we have guns ready to fire, even if they are holstered for a few games.

Baylor Tidbits

Matt Rhule stepped into one of the toughest environments any college football coach has ever dreamed of. His predecessor, Art Briles, left a pile of dog shit at the doorstep, and before falling into it face-first, drug every last coach, player, or campus leader through the mud with him on the way out.

Baylor has been forced into playing a ton of underclassmen, not only from their self-enforced black eye, but also injuries. A combined 30 players have missed 111 games due to injury, among them 2016 Big-12 First-Team Defensive End K.J. Smith, whose shin splints are so severe that they could have turned into stress fractures. The Bears have lost three of their receivers to season-ending injuries, and are on their third quarterback – freshman Charlie Brewer.

In fact, last week versus Texas Tech, 10 of the 22 starters were freshmen or sophomores. So far, 32 first- and second-year players have made starts in a Baylor uniform, and so far the results have been anything but extraordinary.

Baylor is an eye-popping 1-9 this season, with their only win against – you called it – Kansas. They were so bad, that our WRNL Big 12 Power Rankings had Baylor in the cellar for almost an eternity.

The Series

Baylor leads the all-time series 9-6, and has won five in a row. The last time Iowa State beat Baylor, Jake Knott played with a busted shoulder, and this guy was our starting quarterback.

Where, oh Where in the World is Steele Jantz

Iowa State Offense

Whether Kempt or Noland are the primary signal-callers on Saturday, I am fine with either, as coordinator Tom Manning has groomed both tremendously well. They can both be game-managers, and that is the first key to victory for the game.

First Key to Victory – Don’t F*&^ Up

I want to see our quarterbacks game-manage the crap out this game. This ISU offense is not electric by any means, but it has a top-3 running back in the conference, and quite possibly one of the deepest wide receiving corps in the nation. Utilize your talent, and don’t make mistakes – and that is exactly what the offensive play-calling has been geared towards.

Baylor is worse than every other team at defense, as they give up nearly 5 yards per rush and 36 points per game. The offensive line needs to gain some sort of push up front, and with the lack of beef on Baylor’s defensive line (average weight 271), the Cyclones should have a good day in the running game.

Heck, just give the ball to #32 and get out of the way

The Bear’s nickel-back and primary cornerback are both freshmen, and they even have a 2nd-string corner that is trying his best Joel Lanning impersonation– playing both defensive back and wide receiver. This plays right into the hands of a big day for the Cyclone wide receivers.

I foresee a lot of carries from the DM train, and when ISU gets in the red zone, they will light it up with their taller receivers, most notably Allen Lazard and Matthew Eaton, for jump balls.

With Noland in there at QB, ISU can take more shots deep. I pity the fool that has to try and cover 6-foot-6, fleet-footed Hakeem Butler down the field.

Baylor Defense

The Bears run multiple sets, most notably a 4-2-5 with a nickel-back in coverage. They tend to move over to a 3-man front on passing downs, but I project they will stick with four down linemen versus the Clones. Albeit getting gashed in previous games, they held Texas Tech to only 337 yards of offense last week. Now that was due to a combination of short fields after coughing up four turnovers and allowing a kick return for a touchdown, but this defense has improved.

I would compare this BU team to ISU from a year ago. They haven’t quite jelled yet, and are still trying to find their identity. Thus far, defense has not been it. They are in the bottom-three in seven different defensive categories in the Big 12, and are full of inexperience.

One of those players who is not inexperienced is linebacker Taylor Young. The senior has 39 career starts and has accounted for a total of 325 tackles in his career. Fellow linebacker Clay Johnston (who was second on the team in tackles), is out indefinitely with an injury. Enter in a sophomore and freshman alongside Young.

The front is led by junior Ira Lewis and Brian Nance, who combine for 6.5 sacks on the year. Baylor has not gotten pressure up front, and will have to try and blitz if they want to get to the quarterback.

The secondary is not good. They have given up 20 passing touchdowns, and have only forced 3 interceptions. They’re led by freshman corner Harrison Hand, who leads the team with eight pass breakups and one pick.

This GIF is the epitome of the Baylor Bear back end. Woof

The Verdict – ISU

It looks like Noland will probably get the start, and he adds another dimension to the deep passing game. ISU needs to maintain a balanced offensive attack, and move the chains on offense. Baylor can score lightning quick, and wants to get in a shootout. If ISU can take what is given to them, manage the game effectively with no turnovers, then it will be Dilly Dilly all over again.

Iowa State Defense

The Cyclone defense showed some lapses last week, but it was not because they were out of alignment or had mental gaffes. It was just that Oklahoma State’s offensive playmakers outplayed us, plain and simple.

Teams have learned how to beat the 3-man front, and it was only a matter of time, as coaches gameplans pick up on what other teams do, and the tale is always in the game tape.

JaQuan Bailey had one of his finest performances last week, and needs to continue to play with a high motor on every play. Ray Lima has been banged up as of recently, but still commands a double-team to allow those linebackers to roam free. Baylor gives up nearly three sacks a game, so I can see Jon Heacock dialing up some blitzes to confuse their freshman quarterback.

All three linebackers will be like pigs playing in mud, as they will have a heyday against this awful offensive line. Look for Joel Lanning to add to his resume, as he is second in Big 12 in tackles, and is the leader in the club house for the Paul Hornung Award.

Second Key to Victory – Contain the Passing Attack

The secondary will be busy, as BU attempted 63 passes last week versus Texas Tech. If ISU gets a steady lead, look for the vaunted 3-5-3 look, with three safeties on the field, and for this defense to keep everything in front of them.

Baylor has been decimated with injuries at the wide receiver spot, but they may have found a savior at quarterback, as Charlie Brewer threw for over 400 yards last week, and completed 43 of those 63 attempts.

Baylor Offense

Brewer will make his third start in a Baylor uniform, and has shut the door on any quarterback controversy. Rhule played the 2-QB system for awhile, but after last week’s performance I think he has found his guy. Brewer has good pocket presence, and can run if he has to.

So far, he has been running for his life, as the BU offensive line shuffled four different starting combinations in their first four games. Since then, they have found their group, but still are below average.

The Bears continue to move the ball at a break-neck pace, with 21 of their 29 TD-scoring drives lasting two minutes or less.

Third Key to Victory – Keep an Eye on Mims At All Times

If there is one guy to stop on this offense, its wide receiver Denzel Mims. The sophomore eclipsed 1,000 yards last week, and has gone over the century mark in five of the last seven games. He leads the receiving corps in all categories, including an 18-yard catch average, and 8 touchdowns.

This name should sound familiar – Ish Wainright. This 6-foot-5, 260-pound tight end spent his first four years on the hardwood, most notably as a starter for the last two. Wainright caught his first touchdown a few weeks ago.

The running backs have played a wonderful game of musical chairs, and most recently the man at the helm has been JaMycal Hasty, who led the team in rushes last week. They also carry with them a dynamic runner in Terrence Williams, who gashed ISU a year ago in Ames.

Verdict – ISU

The Cyclones need to play sound fundamental football. Baylor will try and keep the game at a frenetic pace, but this defense needs to wrap up at the point of attack and keep the ball in front of them. I see the linebackers having a whale of a game, and multiple packages with more defensive backs on the field to supplant any sort of deep passing attack.

Special Teams

Baylor carries with it a solid kicker/punter in Connor Martin. The sophomore is an impressive 16-for-19 on field goals, and has a 42-yard punt average.

While the Bears have a good kicker, they are just as bad at returning it. They are dead last in kick returns, and have only gained 60 yards on punt returns, ALL YEAR LONG.

ISU had a semblance of a kick return game last week with Landen Akers, and will have Trever Ryen back from concussion protocol returning punts.

Punter Colin Downing had a case of the yips last week, and hopefully the senior turns it around on Saturday. His career has been too good to put a blemish on it.

Verdict – ISU

ISU will continue to control field position, and this will play a large factor in the outcome of the game.

Winning Scale from 1 to 10

If we were to have a bench-press contest, between 37-year old Matt Campbell and 42-year old Matt Rhule, who do you think would win? My money is on Campbell, and with that being said I give ISU’s chances of winning at a solid 8.5 out of 10.

Final Analysis

Throw out the Xs and Os. This game comes down to preparation and coaching. This coaching staff has been superb at getting their players ready for games, especially on the road in tough environments. Not that I’m saying Waco will have a rowdy crowd, but you know what I’m saying.

This ISU team doesn’t make mistakes. They play every play as one strong unit, and have continued to hone their craft. It’s the little things, says coach Campbell.

This Baylor team is still trying to find themselves. They have too much inexperience, and will be unable to handle the adversity. That comes down to coaching. And this ISU program is ready to eat.

Final Score

Iowa State 35

Baylor 24