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2019 Game IV: Iowa State vs. Baylor University Football Preview

Time for a Road Trip to Waco, and this time it’s BEAR STEW for Lunch!

NCAA Football: Texas-San Antonio at Baylor Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

2019 Game IV: Iowa State (2-1, 0-0) vs. Baylor University (3-0, 0-0)

Date: Saturday, September 28, 2019

Time: 2:30 P.M. CST

Location: McLane Stadium, Waco, TX

Capacity: 45,140

Line: ISU -3

Television: ESPN

Radio: Cyclone Radio Network

Game Notes/Release

Baylor Game Notes

SB Nation WebsiteOur Daily Bears

72-20!

Now that was a good way to shake off the rust and absolutely pummel the opposition into submission. Granted, ULM was not the best of teams, but it was encouraging to see the Cyclones take care of business, and for Campbell to keep the foot on the gas.

It was just what this team needed – a boost of momentum before they begin Big 12 play, as well as their first matchup on the road. It will be a different environment in lowly Waco, Texas, but this Baylor team matches up quite well against the Cyclones.

One game at a time is not a cliché. This is step NUMERO UNO for Iowa State’s journey of success in a very winnable and potentially program-defining season.

If we know anything, it is that Campbell’s teams improve as the year goes on.

When we last left off….

The Cyclones beat the ULM Warhawks worse than a midget in a tallest person contest. The Cyclones scored on 11 consecutive possessions, paving the way for 72 points and a school-record 714 yards of offense. It was a Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week Performance for Brock Purdy, as he also established new school-records in both total yards and touchdowns.

The defense saved a horrible offensive start, holding ULM to a missed field goal AND a fourth-down stop, after successive first-quarter turnovers by Purdy. There continued to be gaffes on third downs, as the defense has had trouble slowing down mobile quarterbacks, and are now 2nd to last in the conference at 3rd down defense.

Ladies and gentlemen – we forced our FIRST turnover of the year! In fact, ISU forced three turnovers, including a pick-six AND stopped ULM on three FOURTH down conversions.

All in all, it was the great momentous win and thrusted ISU towards Big 12 play.

Now on to BAYLOR!

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

Baylor Tidbits

There is no love lost between Baylor and Iowa State. Last year ended with THREE ejections and an unembellished disdain between coaching staffs. Coach Matt Rhule preaches toughness and fundamentals, and his track record of turning programs around has worked to perfection.

After NCAA penalties, Rhule went from 1-11 to 7-6 and a bowl victory last year. He now has a 3-0 record in Waco, albeit against lower competition. Last week the Bears traveled for the first time on the road, and after a 21-3 halftime lead, the offense stalled in the second stanza against Rice. In fact, in the first three games, Baylor has outscored opponents 91-10 in first halves. They held on for a 21-13 win, but almost pissed it down their leg with crucial turnovers and a sloppy run game.

Baylor has played an astounding 21 TRUE FRESHMEN this year, and 39 players made their first appearances in the first few stanzas. In fact, over the last 2.2 seasons, BU has played 81 true or redshirt freshmen.

Charlie Brewer is in his third year as starting quarterback, leading the Bears to the 2nd highest scoring offense in the Big 12, and the defense is led by All-Big 12 Preseason end James Lynch. Their defense has been a force, with 21 tackles-for-loss and 9 sacks.

The Series

Somehow FBU leads this all-time series 9-8, but ISU has won the last two contests. The previous time they played in the Dr. Pepper Capital of the World, ISU won a hard fought 23-13 battle with Zeb Noland at quarterback, and this play to Hakeem “The Dream” Butler.

Iowa State Offense

We have a special quarterback folks! Never have I seen anyone play with the type of resiliency as Brock Purdy. The guy shakes off two quick turnovers and only goes on to break the record for most yards by any ISU player in history. Quarterbacks of old would have faltered, but not this one. I don’t know about you, but I think Purdy is a top-3 quarterback in the Big 12, and by year end, could be in the running for first-team honors.

According to Pro Football Focus, guard Trevor Downing earned his place on Big 12 offensive team of the week, and with Colin Newell continuing to nurse a sore knee, this offensive line has only improved from week to week.

First Key to Victory – Contain the Baylor Pass Rush

The Bears love to send pressure, and will do it in a multitude of ways – safeties up the middle, corners off the edge, and most commonly from the linebackers. It will be important (especially on the road) for ISU to continue to communicate effectively, and for Manning to allow Purdy to make his throws quickly. I am impressed with the decisiveness that Brock has had in the pocket.

Tight end Charlie Kolar continues to shine, and his rapport with Purdy is excellent. Look for him to get his touches, and for the Big 12’s 2nd leading receiver in yards per game (Tarique Milton) to find open spots, especially in the middle of the field.

With the pressure, look for quick passes underneath to Deshaunte Jones and red zone targets to continue to come La’Michael Pettway’s way.

The running game has taken a back seat to the tremendous play of Purdy, and rightly so. It is truly a complement to our vast passing attack, and I think the best man for the job on Saturday is speedster Kene Nwangwu. He has superb vision to find open holes and quick bursts to beat his man to the outside. With the constant pressure, I expect Sheldon Croney, Jr. to be in there on passing downs as he serves as the best pass-blocker. Baylor has the league’s 2nd best rush defense, but honestly boyz – they simply haven’t played anyone of worth.

Baylor Defense

Believe it or not, Baylor has taken a page out of ISU’s playbook, and now plays a 3-3-5 defensive scheme. It all starts up front with 333-pound nose guard Bravvion Roy. Next to him is one of the Big 12’s best in James Lynch, who leads the team with 3.5 TFL and 3 sacks (including two last week).

The defensive front has only allowed 3.4 yards per carry, and also is third in the conference in pass defense. Their linebackers are led by senior Clay Johnston, who leads the way with 24 tackles, and next to him is another senior named Blake Lynch.

The Bears defense in fact boasts SEVEN senior starters, as their free safety Chris Miller is the 2nd leading tackler. Both rovers (or nickelbacks) are Grayland Arnold and Henry Black, with Black playing the majority of snaps in the box. This team is very fundamentally sound, but can get beat on the blitz, especially on play-action. Look for Purdy to exploit.

The secondary has yet to allow a single touchdown pass, and hold opponents to a 56% completion rate. Their cornerbacks are solid, but both are shorter than 6 feet. The better one of the bunch is Raleigh Texada, who led the team with 4 PBUs in 2018, and is also a sprinter on the track team.

The Verdict – EVEN, but with a slight edge towards FBU

This is the side of the ball that coach Matt Rhule preaches fundamentals, and it will be a slobber-knocker with big hits and tough yards for Iowa State. I don’t expect the running game to gain much traction, but if Brock can get outside the pocket and make some downfield throws – watch out. ISU has an athletic advantage with its receivers, but playing on the road (and against veteran seniors) will make this a dandy to watch.

Iowa State Defense

Give me Baylor’s defense, and I will counter with an even better one with Iowa State. So far the Cyclones have been stellar at stopping the run, save for a few scrambles from the quarterback. We saw some lapses last week, but I expect coordinator Jon Heacock to shore that up.

I’m still waiting for the real Jaquan Bailey to please stand up and get his career sacks record. He has continued to get double-teamed, but has done a tremendous job of contain to his side. The Bears offensive line is average (and inexperienced), so I expect ISU to utilize its speed on the outside to negate any rollouts from Brewer, and that will come from both the corners and second level.

Baylor has three solid running backs, and use the play-action effectively. It will be important for our linebackers to keep their head on a swivel and defensive line to get their hands up as their quarterback throws the heater on all his passes.

Second Key to Victory – Contain the Running QB

We were exposed last week with the running quarterback (especially on 3rd downs), and failed to wrap up at the point of attack. The responsibility of SPY in this game will most likely fall on the shoulders of both Marcel Spears, Jr. and O’Rien Vance, and boy they better break down. The other way to contain pressure is simply contain the outside edge, and force Brewer to the middle of the field – easier said than done, but it will be paramount if ISU wants to improve upon their horrible, no good, very bad day 3rd down defense.

We continue to see new faces in the secondary, and not only for fresh legs, but also to collect quality big game experience. Amechie Walker and Arnold Azunna both played quite well last week, and look for them to continue to spell the corners.

Safety Greg Eisworth keeps adding to his banner season, and will be all over the field in the STAR role. Lawrence White has impressed me and really taken a leap from last year, as he is second on the team in tackles.

Baylor Offense

One of the few returning starting quarterbacks in the Big 12, Charlie Brewer has impressed thus far. He threw for his first 300-yard game a week ago, but has taken a back seat to the rushing attack in the first three games. Brewer has a howitzer for an arm, and while watching tape I rarely saw a ball that wasn’t a tight spiral. He is not afraid to make the long throws to the sidelines and outside receivers, and has some weapons at his disposal.

Senior Denzel Mims is the best of the bunch, and leads the team with 18 grabs and 249 yards on the year. He has a big body (6-3 and 215) and exploits the defense for jump balls and in the red zone. Sixth-year man Chris Platt is their deep-play threat, and even ran in a score last week. In his Perry Ellis career, he has FIVE 70+ yard receptions, with four of those coming in 2017.

Baylor’s tight end is simply a blocker, as he weighs 302 pounds, and adds a different dimension. Baylor does a great job of getting Brewer out in space and loves run-pass options, as there is a stable of running backs to choose from.

The leader of the pack is thoroughbred John Lovett, who is a horse to bring down. He leads the team with 186 yards, but not far behind him are Trestan Ebner (breakaway speed) and Jamycal Hasty, who is a jitterbug that can make moves in a phone booth. All in all, these Baylor running backs lead the country in yards per carry through the first two games, but were shut down for only 65 yards and 3.4 YPC against Rice.

The Bears start two seniors and a freshman on the line, and are not very experienced overall. Their best lineman is guard Sam Tecklenburg, who leads the entire roster with 31 career starts.

Verdict – ISU

This is where the big boys come to shine. No team in the Big 12 conference is as malleable as this defense is, and look for ISU to exploit not only the inexperience of the offensive line, but also force Brewer into some errant throws. I’m not worried about ISU bottling up the running backs, but more when the quarterback gets in space.

Special Teams

Matt Rhule brought his special teams coordinator with him from Temple, and their prowess as a block party has been unprecedented.

Third Key to Victory – No Special Teams Blunders

Over the last 28 games, BU has blocked 11 kicks, including SIX in their last 8 games. Iowa State has to play flawless, as it has bit them in the butt multiple times this year already. Nothing flips the script more than a blocked punt, and I know Campbell and company will be game planning for it.

Kicker Connor Assalley will be called upon to make some pressure kicks, as I see a tight game with few chances for scores, and a margin of error that is mightily thin. All of Baylor’s kickers are freshmen, but they have a standout kickoff specialist who has boomed 78% of his kicks through the end zone.

Field goal kicker and vocalist John Mayers has only tried one kick all year, and is OFER on a 30-yarder. Punter Issac Powers only has a 38-yard average, so look for the Cyclones to exploit good field position and I’m still waiting for that punt block (as Campbell has sent the house multiple times).

Adding more fuel to the fire is BU’s return game, as they already have a punt return brought back to the house by Grayland Arnold.

Verdict – BAYLOR

Gotta give the Bears the nod in this one.

Winning Scale from 1 to 10

Oooh boy! On paper this one is as close as the matchup against the Hoks. Both teams don’t make mistakes, both defensive units excel, and each team has a Swiss-army knife at quarterback.

If we were to have a bench-press contest, between the MATT’s - 39-year old Campbell and 44-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 6.5 out of 10.

Final Analysis

ESPN picked a good one for the afternoon watch. Both of these squads are very well coached and wear the same dirty makeup. I don’t think Purdy is phased by much, and expect him to continue his success. As he goes, so does the offense, and we’ve got one of the best to play since Seneca.

Throw the stats away. This one comes down to who wants it more, and experience will play a huge factor. Iowa State simply has the better horses, and the veteran leadership to get it done on the road.

It won’t be pretty, but give me the Cyclones in a defensive dogfight.

Final Score

Iowa State 20

Baylor 17

Hit us up with your predictions in the comment section below!