KICKOFF: Saturday, 7 ET
SITE: Floyd Casey Stadium, Waco, Texas
SERIES: Iowa State leads 5-4 (last meeting, 2009, Iowa State 24-10)
RECORDS: Iowa State 3-1, 0-1 Big 12; Baylor 3-1, 0-1 Big 12
POLLS: Baylor (No. 25 AP)
PREDICTION: Baylor 42-21
KEYS TO THE GAME:
-- For Iowa State: Don't ignore Baylor's "other" weapons. Slowing Baylor's offense requires more than just stopping QB Robert Griffin III. Baylor is adept at scoring quickly on big plays, which has been a weakness for ISU's defense in the past.
-- For Baylor: Get the running game moving. Even with their explosive passing attack, the Bears need to be able to run the football to keep control of the game. Baylor's defense has an opportunity to take command against an Iowa State team that is rushing for only 129 yards game.
SCOUTING THE TEAMS:
Iowa State has had problems holding onto the football for four straight games. The Cyclones have committed six first quarter turnovers in the last two games. If the offense plans on scoring enough points to match a potent Baylor offense, it's going to have to hold onto the football. The Cyclones are rushing for 141 yards a game, throwing for 239.
ISU has its hands full as it will try to stop not only Baylor QB Robert Griffin III, but an offense with enough weapons to score at any time. The Bears are averaging 35.0 points a game with IR Kendall Wright leading the conference with 201 receiving yards per game. The Cyclones are yielding only 218 yards a game through the air, but haven't faced a duo like Griffin and Wright. The run defense has to do better than the 155 yards a game it is giving up to opposing rushers. The Cyclones also have only one interception and four fumble recoveries.
Baylor's offense has a lot of pop with QB Robert Griffin III, who has 173 yards rushing to go with his 1,308 yards passing, and IR Kendall Wright leading the way. Wright has 40 catches for 621 yards and seven touchdowns. The key, though, is in the rushing game. The Bears ran for only 83 yards in the loss at Kansas State after going for 150 against TCU, 266 against Stephen F. Austin, and 288 against Rice.
The Bears have improved defensively but that's not saying a whole lot. They were terrible on defense a year ago. They gave up 210 yards rushing in the loss to Kansas State in their last outing, though it's hard to put the blame on the unit for the loss since an interception had given the Wildcats a short field to work with, and they still were forced to kick a field goal, which left the door open for the Bears to win it with a field goal as well.
Cyclones: Iowa State ended an 11-game losing streak in Big 12 play with the victory over Baylor in Ames in the last meeting between the two teams. ... This will be the Cyclones' fifth trip to Waco, where they are 2-2. ... Iowa State has trailed in the fourth quarter of every game this season but rallied for wins over Northern Iowa, Iowa (in OT), and Connecticut before losing to Texas in its last outing ... Iowa State is 13-1 under coach Paul Rhoads when holding opponents under 24 points in a game, 2l-13 when allowing more than 24. ... QB Steele Jantz has completed passes to 11 different players with 19 going to WR Darius Reynolds. Jantz has seven touchdown passes, four to Reynolds. ... LB Jake Knott leads the Cyclones and is second in the Big 12 in tackles-per-game with his 11.25 average. He has forced and recovered a fumble. ... RB James White has four rushing touchdowns this year after having none last year.
Bears: Baylor is the only team in the country that is rushing for 300-plus yards and passing for 200-plus a game. ... A win over Iowa State would make Baylor 4-0 at home for the second year in a row but only the fourth time in school history. The Bears were 4-2 at home after dropping their last two home contests last year. ... Baylor ranks second nationally in passing efficiency, is tied for fourth in scoring offense (47.25), fifth in total offense (552.75), and eighth in passing offense (351.50). ... Despite the loss at Kansas State in which he threw his first interception of the season, QB Robert Griffin III went 21-of-24 passing against Iowa State when the two teams met in 2008 to lead the Bears to a 38-10 victory. That win snapped a 13-game losing streak for the Bears in Big 12 play. ... Senior IR Kendall Wright leads the nation in receiving yards per game (155.25) and ranks four in receptions per game (10.0).
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
CB Leonard Johnson -- He is expected to play a week after being carted off the field on a stretcher. Johnson won't be able to ease back into things. He'll be asked to shut down Baylor WR Kendall Wright, who ISU coach Paul Rhoads called one of the best receivers in the country.
QB Steele Jantz -- ISU must score, and likely score a lot, if it's to beat Baylor's high-powered attack. That will require Jantz to minimize his interceptions. He's thrown four in his last two games.
OT Kyle Lichtenberg -- He is expected to start at right tackle in place of Brayden Burris (fractured leg). The coaching staff likes Lichtenberg's potential, but will need him to quickly get adjusted to tackle. He's spent the season primarily as a backup guard.
QB Robert Griffin III -- How could you not watch him? Griffin is one of the most exciting players in college football today with the ability to make plays with his feet or his arm. No doubt, he will be second-guessing himself for the late interception and late sack in the loss to Kansas State, and it will be Iowa State that will pay the price.
RB Terrance Ganaway -- Ganaway had established himself as a capable yards producer on the ground in the first three games but struggled in the loss at Kansas State. He leads the Bears in rushing with 327 yards and needs to get into triple digits to give the offense another threat to go with Griffin and IR Kendall Wright.
DE Gary Mason -- Mason is tied for fourth in the conference in tackles-for-loss with 5.0 in the four games. He had a sack for a nine-yard loss and broke up a pass at Kansas State.
OL Braydon Burris (leg, out), OT Kelechi Osemele (ankle, probable), RB Shontrelle Johnson (stinger, probable).
No new injuries reported.
Bears Return Home to Face Cyclones
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