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2018 Game IX: #23 Iowa State vs. Baylor Football Preview

Its November, Its Cold, Its a Perfect Time for a Texas Team to Come to TOWN!

NCAA Football: Iowa State at Baylor Andrew Dieb-USA TODAY Sports

2018 Game IX: #23 Iowa State (5-3, 4-2) vs. Baylor (5-4, 3-3)

Date: Saturday November 10, 2018

Time: 2:30 P.M. CST

Location: MidAmerican Energy Field at Jack Trice Stadium

Capacity: 61,500

Line: ISU -14.5

Television: FS1

Radio: Cyclone Radio Network

Game Notes/Release

Baylor Game Notes

SB Nation Website - Our Daily Bears

Iowa State is on a ROLL! Winners of FOUR straight, this Cyclone Football Program has a legitimate shot at playing in the Big 12 Championship Game on December 1st.

They entered the rankings for the first time, ranked #23 in the Associated Press Poll, and have moved up to #22 in the College Football Playoff Poll.

Not Your Father’s Iowa State? How about Not Your Older Brother’s IowaState! This team is off to one of their hottest starts in Big 12 play, tying the school-record for consecutive conference wins, and they have done it against the FIFTH toughest schedule in the COUNTRY.

It’s hard not to look ahead to Texas, but Matt Campbell and his staff are buckled down for one thing and one thing only – BEAT BAYLOR. I couldn’t help but admire in his weekly press conference, where he never talked about expectations, only about how this team is continuing to get better; and with the injuries we have sustained – there are tons of new faces that Iowa State feels comfortable playing in Big 12 competition. We have not had this much depth (or talent) in – ever.

Get comfortable folks - this is going to be a fun ride!!!

When we last left off….

Iowa State took care of business right from the get-go against a depleted and far inferior squad in Kansas. Heck, they fired their coach after the game.

Not that the Cyclones played perfect in their 27-3 victory, but they started the game off in a flurry – thanks to Randy Moss, Hakeem Butler and his two electric touchdowns in the first quarter.

The defense continued to dominate, forcing two turnover-on-downs at the goal-line, yet there was a bit of a kryptonite in the rush defense. KU began to exploit the outer edge with pulling linemen and their running backs gashed the second line of defense in the cutback variety.

All that said, ISU was able to exploit mismatches on offense, and their defense picked up the slack as they always do.

On to Baylor.

Baylor Tidbits

I’m not really sure what to think about this Baylor squad. While they are 5-4 and are on the verge of clinching a bowl, they are still young, evident by 13 true freshmen played already, and putting 18 first-time starters on the field.

Led by second-year coach Matt Rhule, this program has tremendous speed and athletic talent, most namely at the playmaker spots. They faced adversity in a tough five-game stretch, losing to OU and WVU big, but had a chance late against Texas, and finally pulled through with a big home victory over Oklahoma State last week.

Looking at the statistics, you think this game would be a rout, as the Bears are last or second-to-last in Big 12 in scoring defense, yards allowed, rush defense, and pass defense efficiency. They are in the middle of the pack in most offensive categories, but one of those athletic playmakers to keep an eye on is former Tennessee running back-turned-wide receiver Jalen Hurd. In this well-written column by Bleacher Report in July, Hurd made the massive gamble in the offseason to switch positions, namely due to the longevity of the position in the pros. So far it has paid off, as Hurd is top-10 in the conference in both receptions and yards.

Rhule is changing the culture in Waco, and doing things the right way. He was left in no-man’s land after the sanctions forced upon Baylor (rightly so), but has done a good job of building the foundation from scratch.

The Series

Baylor leads the all-time series 9-7, with ISU beating the Bears for the first time in five seasons last year. The last time these two teams met in Ames it was a shootout, as Baylor scored the final 17 to clinch a 45-42 victory.

Iowa State Offense

The cynical person in me is waiting for a let-down game from Brock Purdy, but this true freshman just will not be denied. I’m nitpicking on the under-throws to Butler, but against good competition – that just ain’t going to fly. With all that said, Brock now has 12 touchdown passes in four games (freshman school record), and at this pace, could eclipse the season record of 20 touchdowns. This Baylor secondary gives up yards like water running through a colander, so he will get his shot for big plays downfield. In fact, the Bears have allowed the most passing TDs in the conference, so I see another glorious day for Hakeem Butler and the crew.

Texas Tech v Iowa State Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images

Not only will Butler add to his impressive nation-leading 24-yards-per-catch stat, but look for Tarique Milton and Deshaunte Jones to get involved, and I see another touchdown or two out of the likes of Charlie Kolar or Matthew Eaton.

First Key To Victory – Control the Clock

Baylor leads the Big 12 in time of possession, and while our defense is as good as the ‘85 Bears (kidding, not kidding), it doesn’t matter if they are on the field for 35+ minutes. The offensive line needs to get back to their glory days of opening up holes for David Montgomery and company, as Baylor is awful at stopping it. Again, look for the two-tight end set (as Chase Allen is BACK), and my main man Sam Seonbuchner blowing up dudes at the point of attack.

The DM Train is 2nd in the Big 12 in rushing yards per game, and needs to get back on track so the offense can take the air out of the ball. Baylor has been susceptible to mental errors and missed tackles, so I project a solid day out of #32.

Baylor Defense

This defense is downright bad. While they were slaughtered by offensive powerhouses OU and WVU for a combined 125 points, they did hold Okie State to 31 and Texas to 23.

The defensive line has been gashed for almost 190 yards per game on the ground, and against a similar style to ISU (K-State), gave up an abominable 319 rushing yards on 35 CARRIES!

They run a hybrid 4-3 scheme with a nickelback, and sometimes try the 3-man front when necessary. They do not play fundamentally sound defense, and have been apt to allow multiple missed tackles. The Bears are led by linebacker Clay Johnston, who hulked out last week to the tune of 14 solo tackles against Okie State.

The defensive line has created a fair amount of pressure, averaging just over 2 sacks per game, and are led by rush end James Lynch, who has 8.5 tackles-for-loss and 5.5 sacks.

This is how bad the defense is – Blake Lynch, who started his career at running back and receiver, has been forced to switch over to the defensive side of the ball, and is now starting at linebacker. Good gravy baby!

Reading up on SB Nation’s Our Daily Bears’ midseason grades, the staff gave the Bears’ secondary a D. Rightly so, as they have been beat over the top multiple times, and have failed to make stops when it matters most

Their best defensive back is 6-foot-3 Derrek Thomas, as the Temple transfer has played well individually, but the sum of its parts have not. Baylor has a young defense, starting a true freshman at safety, and have only accounted for 5 interceptions on the year.

The Verdict – ISU

This is exactly the kind of defense ISU can exploit, as they lack the basic fundamentals, and ISU has the weapons to pounce. I am really looking forward to a solid blocking day from our boys up front, and of course some heroics from the BEAST himself – Hakeem Butler.

Iowa State Defense

What more is there to say about this defense? There is not one player that stands above the rest, as it is a full team effort, and Jon Heacock has been the mastermind behind it all. The Cyclones have held all eight of their opponents under their season-total offensive averages, and impressively held four of those teams under 300 yards. In this day in age, where elite offenses reign supreme, this Cyclone defense has been able to hold their own, and our collective writers had a fantastic article this week gushing over it.

It all starts up front with stopping the run, and there isn’t a better team in the Big 12 than ISU. Matt Leo made his first start last week, and look for him to continue upon his success against a team that allows for the most sacks in the conference. That also means Jaquan Bailey and Spencer Benton will eat quarterbacks for breakfast on Saturday.

There was a WRNL Twitter poll on Monday where we asked which defensive unit gets the MVP so far on the season. While the defensive line dominated in votes, my choice went to the linebacking crew, as I have been uber impressed with their abilities to wrap up at the point of attack and cover in the passing lanes.

True freshman Mike Rose has been the best of the bunch, and there is simply no drop-off in talent in the two-deeps. Marcel Spears, Jr. and Willie Harvey will need to stay in their lanes, as Baylor has a running back with four 70+ runs in his career, and he makes his living on the outside edge.

Second Key To Victory – Bottle Up Jalen Hurd

Its no secret who Baylor’s best player is – and they look for him a lot. The Tennessee transfer (and former running back) has been tremendously efficient, as 42 of his team-leading 57 receptions have gone for 1st downs or touchdowns. Cornerback Datrone Young is questionable with a shoulder injury, but ISU has enough horses to vacate his spot – most notably freshman Anthony Johnson, Jr.

Is there anybody more underrated than Brian Peavy? Teams don’t even look to his side of the field, as he has continued to dominate at his position. In fact, according to Pro Football Focus, the senior has graded out as the fifth best corner in the NATION. That man will be playing on Sundays.

Needless to say, I’m not too worried about Baylor’s offense, as the line struggles to protect, and their two receivers are going up against an established secondary.

Baylor Offense

The Bears brought in a Transfer from NC State in Jalen McClendon, and the 6-foot-5, 220-pound senior has played situationally during the season. While starter Charlie Brewer was sidelined due to concussion protocol last week, McClendon made the start but was inefficient. Entering the game late and a 10-point deficit, Brewer rallied the troops and led a comeback victory, throwing two touchdowns (and the game-winner) to seal the biggest win of the Matt Rhule era.

McClendon is a bruising runner, while Brewer is the more complete package. The sophomore has passed for just over 200 yards per game, and rushed for 4 touchdowns on the year. While he completes passes at a 60% clip, it his legs that gets him out of trouble (and a suspect offensive line).

Speaking of that inept line, Baylor gives up the most sacks per game (3.11), and have been a patchwork unit since the get-go. They do have two anchors in Blake Blackmar and Pat Lawrence (combined for 67 consecutive starts), and have paved the way for a so-so rushing attack.

The Bears have an absurd FIVE different players with 150 or more rushing yards, and are led by running back JaMycal Hasty and his 388. The lightning bolt is John Lovett, who averages 6.3 yards per carry, including this dart last week.

While Jalen Hurd leads the team in catches (57) and yards (756), not far behind him is Denzel Mims. The dynamic 6-foot-3 junior has 38 grabs and 564 yards to his name, and has been a household name for three years now. Baylor runs a lot of 4-wide sets, setting up mismatches and one-on-one situations for their outside threats. Both Mims and Hurd can run any route, and you will more than likely see Hurd at his former spot in short-yardage AND goal-line situations.

Verdict – ISU

While Baylor is competent on this side of the ball, there just hasn’t been a unit more impressive than Iowa State’s defense. What kills the Bears is the blitz and disguises that Jon Heacock is perfect at dialing up, and it will force Brewer and company into a tailspin.

Give me the Cyclones here.

Special Teams

This is where it gets dicey. The Baylor Bears are phenomenal at getting penetration and blocking kicks. In fact, they rank 2nd in the nation with FIVE blocks, as this has been a Matt Rhule staple going back to his Temple days.

Drew Galitz is also on the short list of terrific punters, second-best the Big 12 in net punting at 43.4 yards per boot. Add to that a decent return game, and a kicker that is 13-for-19, and you can say that Baylor has an above-average special teams unit.

Third Key To Victory – No Mistakes on Special Teams

Iowa State has had its fair share of bad plays, so expect Special Teams coach Joe Houston to be burning the midnight oil making sure his boys come to play on Saturday. Connor Assalley hit a career-long 47-yarder last week, and the return game was so-so. If this game turns into a field-position battle, we will need to see a better (more consistent) Corey Dunn out there.

Verdict – Baylor

Its been the Achilles heel to this program all year, and Baylor has a leg up on the competition.

Winning Scale from 1 to 10

If we were to have a bench-press contest between both Matts, that is the 38-year old Campbell and 43-year old 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 out of 10.

Final Analysis

Looking at this game on paper you would think Iowa State has all the measurables to blow this team away. Not so fast my friend.

If there was ever a trap game – this is it. There isn’t a team flying higher than the Cyclones, and we have yet to see much turbulence along the way. Baylor on the other hand, is playing for something much bigger – a berth in a bowl game, and they have a legitimate shot at pulling the upset.

With that being said, I think this game is tighter than most folks realize, and it will be important for Iowa State to get off to a good start.

At the end of the day, this Cyclone team will find a way to pull it out, and win its FIFTH game in a ROW!

Final Score

Iowa State 28

Baylor 24

Let us know your thoughts below