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2022 Game Preview IX: Baylor

Big 12 play starts off with a bang

Ohio v Iowa State Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images

Iowa State (3-0, 0-0) at Baylor (2-1, 0-0)

Date: September 24th

Time: 11 A.M

Place: Jack Trice Stadium

Capacity: 61,500

Line: Iowa State (-2.5)


When we last left off...

Iowa State took care of business at home against the Ohio Bobcats, winning by a final score 43-10.

The Cyclones took the lead early and never relinquished it, starting the scoring on an 11-play 69 (nice) yard drive, ending with a Hunter Dekkers touchdown run. After trading punts, Hunter Dekkers took over to get back into the end zone, as tight end, DeShawn Hanika caught his second TD pass of the season to make it 14-0.

Iowa State would force two consecutive turnovers and convert both into 10 points to 24-0. Deon Silas would key the scoring drive, breaking off a 24-yard run on the way to the end zone. A Hunter Dekkers fumbled exchange would give Ohio the ball back, and Ohio settled for a field goal.

A touchdown drive before the half would end hope for Ohio, as a 10-play, 75-yard drive capped by a 15-yard touchdown catch by Shawn Shaw would give Iowa State a 30-3 lead after an extra blocked point.

When the dust settled, Iowa State wound up dominating the game. Hunter Dekkers tossed 3 touchdowns, going 28/36 for 263 yards. Jirehl Brock and Deon Silas got the most carries, with each going for 76 and 58 yards, respectively.

Xavier Hutchinson continued his stellar season, bringing in 9 grabs for 93 yards and a touchdown. Shawn Shaw Jr and DeShawn Hanika rounded out the touchdown club. but 10 different Cyclones recorded receptions.

Baylor Tidbits

The Series

Baylor leads the all-time series 11-9. Baylor won the game last season 31-29. Iowa State scored a touchdown late and came up short on the two-point conversion attempt to send it to overtime.

Iowa State Offense

Xavier Hutchinson is a man on a mission this season. The Cyclone star came into the season needing 95 receptions to overtake Allen Lazard as Iowa State’s all-time reception leader. After three games, Hutchinson has 28 receptions, 319 receiving yards, and 5 touchdowns. The senior needs to average 7.4 receptions per game to pass Lazard for the top spot. Something to keep an eye on the rest of the way.

Syndication: The Des Moines Register Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK

Iowa State’s offense this season is averaging 26.5 points per game. The average is almost always certain to take a dip when you play Iowa in the second game of the season. One can expect the Cyclone numbers to take a bit of a climb as the season goes on. It’s time to let Hunter Dekkers unleash the cannon.

First Key To Victory - Let It Fly

Iowa State may be getting better in the run game and that may be more of Matt Campbell’s style but sometimes things change. The Cyclones have might have one of the strongest arms in college football. Pair that with some very talented skilled players. There is no reason this Iowa State team shouldn’t just air it out more. I think this week may dictate that.

Baylor comes in with one of the strongest run defenses in the country but stopping the pass seems to be more of a problem. The Baylor defense sits just about average nationally when it comes to stopping the pass. Last season Iowa State threw for 263 yards and 8 yards per completion. The Cyclones did have some success on the ground as well rushing for 216 yards on the afternoon.

Baylor Defense

Baylor comes to Ames with a pretty good defense. The Bears are allowing just over two touchdowns per game and hardly letting their opponents reach the 300-yard mark. What is really driving the numbers is the already mentioned rushing defense for the Bears. Baylor is only allowing 2.5 yards per rush and 82.5 yards on the ground per game. Both those stats sit top 15 nationally so far this season.

NCAA Football: Albany at Baylor Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

To go along with that is their pass defense. While it may come across as average it may be anything but that. The numbers may have trended that way due to the sheer volume of pass attempts this defense has been seeing due to them shutting down the run. Baylor is giving up 235 yards through the air per game and 6.2 yards per pass. Which is about right for where the Iowa State offense sits currently. If Iowa State is going to attack this defense it is going to have to be through the air.

A few names to keep an eye on defensively for Baylor are Dillon Doyle and Al Walcott. Iowa State fans may recognize Dillon Doyle. He is the son of former Iowa Strength Coach Chris Doyle. The Iowa City native is the starting middle linebacker for Baylor. Al Walcott is in the STAR position for Baylor. He is taking over for Jalen Pitre who was an absolute stud and is now playing for the Houston Texans.

The Verdict - Even

If you had to put a gun to my head and pick here, I would lean Iowa State but right now its close enough that this is a toss-up. I think Iowa State will be able to move the ball through the air but it may be tough sledding on the ground. If Iowa State can play a clean game and not be behind the chains I think they can make some noise. We shall see how this turns out.

Iowa State Defense

Statistically, the Iowa State defense is one of the best in the country. The Cyclone defenders are allowing only 8.5 points per game. Not only have teams not scored on them yet, but they’re also having a hard time moving the ball. Iowa State is giving up 191 yards per game, 41 yards on the ground, and 150 yards per game through the air. All of which are top 15 marks in the country. While some of the names are new and young, the Iowa State defense has continued down the same path.

Second Key To Victory - Stop The Run

The Baylor offense is a tough out on the ground. It is one of the most potent rushing attacks in the country. The goal for Iowa State is to keep Baylor around 4 yards per carry. If that number gets near 5 yards a pop it may be a long day for Iowa State defensively. So far so good against the run this season but I think this may be their biggest test yet.

Baylor Offense

This Baylor offense is putting up 31 points per game but they are a run-first team. The wide zone scheme that offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes deploys is off and running this season. Baylor is one of the better-run teams in the country. Averaging 5 yards per rush, 223 yards per game. It is a stout attack that just keeps coming at you.

Through the air, Baylor hasn’t been as hot. Quarterback Blake Shapen is 91st in the country in total passing yards with 535 yards. They deploy that 106th-ranked passing attack in the country that averages 6.2 yards per pass. This is not your mother's type of Baylor team that we have seen in the past.

Texas State v Baylor Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

Taye McWilliams and Craig Williams were the names to being the season in the backfield but after their win over Texas State, Richard Reese has emerged as a factor. The true freshman carried the Baylor offense on 19 carries and 156 yards. A three-headed monster in the Baylor backfield is going to be a tough assignment for any defense to stop.

The Verdict - Iowa State

The Iowa State defensive line has been playing lights out. Eating up double teams and just destroying the point of attack for the opposing rushing attack. I think that will bode well this week. Baylor will get theirs but they won’t be popping off for 5 yards per carry. I think this front 6 for Iowa State is too talented to let that happen. Give me Iowa State a slight edge here.

Special Teams

A major special teams mishap pretty much cost the game for Iowa State last season. The Cyclones started building momentum in the third quarter following the slow start and then they let Trestan Ebner return a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown that put Iowa State down 28-16 at the time. Iowa State has already had its fair share of mishaps on the special teams side of the ball. Let’s recap, two blocked punts and one blocked extra point on the season so far.

On the other side of things, Baylor already has a punt return for a touchdown on the season. In the first game, Gavin Holmes returned one to the house 72 yards. Iowa State will have to be ready for anything possible in the return game. Baylor is always a threat on special teams.

Third Key To Victory - Don’t Mess It up

This is simple. Avoid the big mistake and avoid the big return. If Iowa State does that, they are in this game.

The Verdict - Baylor

I am just going to side with history in this one. Baylor has usually been better on special teams when these two teams meet. As of right now, the errors are still piling up for this Iowa State team. Until they can string together some flawless outings on special teams I will not be picking them in this phase.

Winning Scale from 1 to 10

This is kind of like going to get gas at Casey’s to get gas. Usually, the pumps are slow and you wish it was over with already. On the other hand, you can go to Kwik Star and get out of there in no time. You got two choices here and a 50% chance of making the right choice. I think Iowa State turns to the right store and comes out strong in this one.

Final Analysis

These games have been close. There has been drama. There have been tent mishaps. This series as of late has had it all. I expect this one to be no different in Ames on Saturday. This Iowa State team will be tested. Collectively, Baylor’s offensive and defensive lines are the best the Cyclones have seen all year long. It will push this Iowa State team to be great up front and make more strides on the offensive line to have a successful afternoon. It will be close but this team is playing well right now and with the underdog mentality will pull it through at the end of the day and behind the arm of Hunter Dekkers.

Final Score

Iowa State - 24

Baylor - 21

Let us know your predictions in the comments below!