2021 Game IV: #14 Iowa State (2-1, 0-0) vs. Baylor (3-0, 1-0)
Date: Saturday, September 25th, 2021
Time: 2:30PM CST
Location: McLane Stadium. Waco, Texas
Line: ISU (-7.5)
Radio: Cyclone Radio Network
SB Nation Website - Our Daily Bears
When we last left off....
The Cyclones offense woke up in Vegas, and the defense stayed dominant in their 48-3 win over UNLV on Saturday. Iowa State outscored UNLV, 493-130. There were only a total of 7 first downs for UNLV, who gained 36 yards rushing. It was also the third straight game in which Iowa State didn’t allow 300 yards of total offense.
Let’s review, shall we? Brock Purdy threw for 288 yards and three touchdowns, Breece Hall added 100 yards on the ground with two touchdowns, and Xavier Hutchinson had a career night with 10 receptions, 133 yard receiving and two touchdown receptions. Charlie Kolar also added one touchdown reception. All around, the Vegas sky was clear -and humidity free - for Iowa State’s stars.
Brock Purdy was able to set two more school records on Saturday night, set the record for career passing yards and career total offense. He now owns 27 of Iowa State school records and will forever go down as one of the greatest to wear the cardinal and gold.
Dave Aranda is going to have a much more improved Baylor team from their 2-7 season a year ago. The defensive mind is taking a bit of a different approach with his version of Baylor compared to what we have seen in the past. Tough defense with a great rushing attack.
Baylor is 3-0 on the season with wins over Kansas, Texas Southern, and Texas State. The Bears averaged over 46 points per game in those three wins. Baylor will finish off their non conference schedule later in the year when they take on future Big 12 opponent, BYU.
Speaking of BYU, Dave Aranda made a change at offensive coordinator prior to the 2021 season hiring former BYU offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes. Baylor fired offensive coordinator Larry Fedora after one season. The Bears ranked 118th offensively last season. Averaging 23 points per game, 98th best in the nation.
Last Saturday, Baylor went home with a 45-7 win over Kansas. Junior RB Abram Smith rushed for 122 yards, 7.6 yards per carry. Gerry Bohanon passed for 269 yards and two touchdowns as well. Baylor scored the final 31 points of the game, shutting out Kansas in the second half.
Baylor leads the series 10-7. Winning 6 of those game in Waco. Iowa State won last season’s matchup in Ames, 38-31. Matt Campbell is 3-2 against Baylor during his tenure at Iowa State.
Iowa State Offense
The Iowa State offense finally woke up against UNLV and put on a clinic. The Cyclones put up 493 yards of offense on the Rebels and were consistently starting drives near mid-field or in Rebel territory all night. However, the main story offensively is the reemergence of Brock Purdy. The Cyclone signal caller posted 288 yards passing, completing 87.5% of his passes and throwing three touchdowns a long the way.
First Key To Victory - Build Off Success
I described last week’s game against UNLV like a basketball player seeing the ball go through the hoop after a drought. Iowa State saw the ball cross the goal line a few times and got some things working last week, which they can build on going forward. Baylor’s defense is sound against the run and may be able to limit Breece Hall, so Brock’s progression could prove to be critical.
Xavier Hutchinson is the clear number one target in the wide receiver room, but we still haven’t really seen a solid number-two option step forward. I do believe Joe Scates is on his way to claiming that mantle and has been more consistent this season thus far compared to previous years. I want Iowa State to stretch the field on a deep pass this game and push Baylor off the line of scrimmage. I think Joe Scates is the option to blow the top off the Baylor defense.
Second Key To Success - Find Offensive Line Consistency
While Iowa State’s offensive line has not been bad to start the season, there are more noticeable flaws than there was a season ago. Specifically, the line has struggled to get any push and open up space in the running game. If Iowa State is going to be the team we think they can be, they need to win in the margins on the offensive line, whether that’s with their technique, getting to blocks at the right times, or a combination of the two.
Baylor continues to deploy the 4-2-5 look with one edge being a hybrid DE/OLB on the line, and help over the top with three safeties, though they still mix in some concepts from the Iowa State 3-3-5 defense, which most teams do nowadays. The success of the Baylor defense really starts up front with the defensive line, which will give Iowa State another test early on.
With that said, we really don’t know what this Baylor defense is just yet. While Dave Aranda is a defensive-minded coach, the 2021 Baylor Bears have yet to be really tested defensively yet. Their tallest defensive task so far has probably been…Kansas?
Baylor has been good against the run and the secondary is playing well so far against inferior offensive attacks. How well they slow down Iowa State’s struggling, but still objectively superior offense is the main question. The silver lining in these numbers for Iowa State is that Baylor has not had much success getting to opposing quarterbacks, registering a sack rate of just over 5% (compared to Iowa State’s 13% sack rate), per Sports Info Solutions. Take the wins as you get them, right?
Terrel Bernard leads Baylor with 19 tackles. After missing the 2020 season, Bernard has seemingly picked up where he left off two seasons ago. Iowa State will specifically need to scheme a game plan to avoid having Bernard wreck the offense. Another one to keep an eye on is the wrecking ball up front, LSU-transfer nose guard Siaki “Apu” Ika.
The Verdict - Even
Iowa State has more bad than good this season offensively. While still talented and with a history of success in previous seasons, they need to put two weeks together. Baylor is a sound defensive team and will give Iowa State their fair share of problems through the course of the game. I’ll chalk this one up as a toss up, but could see this tilted in Iowa State’s favor relatively quickly if they can find a groove on offense.
Iowa State Defense
What more can you say about this Cyclone defense? Once again, against UNLV they were outstanding and gave the Rebels virtually nothing. Shoot, UNLV had fewer yards than Iowa State had points at half time on Saturday night. That’s extremely impressive no matter who the opponent is.
Heacock and the boys give up 1.5 yards per rush which is 4th best in the country and 5 yards per pass, which is 10th best. The Cyclones sit in the top ten or right near it in almost virtually every single important defensive statistic and they only just starting to find their groove.
While the great start has been fun to see, Saturday could be their toughest test to date. Baylor is going to be the fastest team that Iowa State has seen in this young season. Not to mention, Baylor has the ability to win both through the air and on the ground, though they would certainly prefer and are more suited to establish a strong running game.
Third Key To Victory - Eliminate The Run, Again
Although Iowa and Baylor are vastly different schematically, both teams prefer to win on the ground. Baylor has done just that through three games, currently ranking tenth in the country in rushing. If Iowa State can replicate the defensive performance from the Iowa game, they should be in good shape.
Jeff Grimes takes over as offensive coordinator at Baylor, and the Bears have unveiled their version of the wide zone offensive scheme, which is considered one of the top running offenses in the country.
“There are reasons for that, some of which are it is a play that is versatile with different formations and personnel groups and is something that is very consistent and allows you to stay on schedule and doesn’t allow for a lot of negative yardage plays and keeps you on schedule as an offense and a play caller.” Grimes stated in fall camp.
With this offensive scheme, Baylor is adaptable to many different defensive schemes. Grimes’ talent as a play-caller combined with the adaptability of the offense will force the Cyclone defense be sound in their gap discipline and limit missed and broken tackles.
After the transfer of Charlie Brewer to Utah, Baylor has a new signal caller in 2021. Gerry Bohanon has taken the reigns full time, and hasn’t turned the over ball over this season. He’s a stronger runner than thrower, but can be effective in the passing game when receivers can be schemed open in easy throwing areas. Last week against Kansas, Bohanon completed 19 of 23 passes for 269 yards and two touchdowns and added another score on the ground.
Where this Baylor offense really takes off is in the running back room, which is led by Abram Smith and Tristan Ebner. Both backs give Baylor an explosive element and are on pace to rush for over 1,000 yards. Iowa State will need to keep these guys in check to keep the Bears’ offense at bay.
The Verdict - Iowa State
Iowa State will have their hands full in this one. Baylor will try to attack every zone on the field and they have the personnel to do so. While I do like Jeff Grimes and the wide zone scheme, I think Iowa State’s defense has the experience edge and the talent to combat that this season. It’s going to be tough, but Iowa State gets it done defensively.
WE RETURNED PUNTS! WE DIDN’T DESTROY A GAME ON SPECIAL TEAMS! MEVIS MADE A 54 YARD FIELD GOAL! The arrow is officially pointing up for the Iowa State special teams group. While the subtle improvements are great, let’s see if the Cyclones can put together back to back solid weeks on special teams.
On Baylor’s side, there is nothing that sticks out negatively right now. Isaiah Hankinks has been solid to start the season, making 4-of-5 field goal attempts thus far. Per usual, Baylor’s speed presents a lot of problems in the return game, so kicking the ball out of the endzone of kickoffs will continue to be extremely important.
The Verdict- Even
If Iowa State can avoid the level of play on special teams from the Iowa game, this one is rather even. Take a step backwards and disaster can rear its ugly head again. Neither team really stands out more than the other here, but Iowa State’s floor is much lower than Baylor’s. Let’s just hope to avoid seeing the floor.
Winning Scale from 1 to 10
I am afraid this one is going to be rather uncomfortable all game long. While I have full trust in Iowa State’s defense, I just don’t think we can fully trust the Iowa State offense just yet. I would like to, but I need to see it multiple weeks in a row and against better competition than UNLV.
The speed and scheme on Baylor’s offense always can find a way to score. Even against a great defense like Iowa State’s, all they need is one lane and Baylor can find the end zone in a hurry.
On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the worst HGTV show, Fixer Upper (Chip and Joanna Gaines, widely overrated), to a 10 of Property Brothers, I give this one a Flip or Flop chance of victory.
Tents are going to be on the sideline and there won’t be a major issue with heat, so we have that going for us. Iowa State is a better team on paper, but they’re going to have to work for this one.
Iowa State - 23
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