Iowa State Game Preview Part 2

We continue to prepare for the game this Saturday by taking a look at how the Iowa State Cyclones matchup with the Bears on both sides of the ball.

Deck – We continue to prepare for the game this Saturday by taking a look at how the Iowa State Cyclones matchup with the Bears on both sides of the ball.

This game features one of the few games on the Big 12 schedule that feature a contrast of styles. Baylor comes in with a high powered offense, and a struggling defense. The Cyclones come in with a struggling offense but with a solid to very good defense.

Baylor Offense vs. Iowa State Defense

Scoring

Passing

Yards / Pass

Rushing

Yards / Rush

Total Yards

Yards / Play

Yards / Point

Points / Play

Baylor O

48

406.4

10.9

173.8

4.3

580.2

7.3

12.1

0.605

Rank

3

1

2

47

58

3

1

16

5

Iowa State D

22.3

273

6.6

143.8

3.8

416.8

5.1

18.7

0.273

Rank

31

105

36

43

37

69

39

17

26

The Baylor offense is an elite offense in pretty every metric you can come up with. They move the ball as efficiently as any other team, but they can also strike for big plays at anytime. They have the best passing attack in the nation, and worst case a steady rushing attack with the potential to be very good.

Baylor spreads the field and gets the ball to its best players on the edges to setup plays in the middle, either running or play-action. They use a multitude of sets and formations to get their players in the best possible matchup. There is flash and substance to what the Bears do.

Iowa State on the other hands might lack flash, but their substance is over-flowing. They line up in a standard 4-3 look, though that third linebacker is much more like the "nickleback" the Bears use (Ahmad Dixon) than a prototypical linebacker. The linebackers are the core and the strength of their defense, with two of the best in the Big 12 playing side by side in A.J. Klein and Jake Knott. They both have prototypical size and speed for the position, and play an all-around game.

The Cyclones use their defensive strength to really limit the run game with just their front 6 or 7 and force teams to make mid-range throws in front of their two-deep safety look. They only average 6.6 yards allowed per pass attempt, primarily due to keeping offenses in front of them but also due to very good tackling underneath by those great linebackers.

The Cyclones also force a lot of turnovers, averaging 2.5 per game (15th in the country). 1.5 of those turnovers comes on interceptions (18th). Their three linebackers have 4 of their total 9 interceptions, a rather high ration, but it makes sense with how they play. They will change which of their three linebackers drop into man coverage allowing the other to play zone. They really stick with their base defense quite a bit, and change how they play the underneath routes that their deep safeties force the offense to take.

Yardage wise, the Cyclones yield much more than you would think with their scoring defense rank. They allow the 69th most yards per game at 416.8 yards. The bulk of that is passing, as they allow the 105th most passing yards. However it is not an efficient passing attack, as opponents get just 6.6 yards per pass (36th).

Baylor Defense vs. Iowa State Offense

Scoring

Passing

Yards / Pass

Rushing

Yards / Rush

Total Yards

Yards / Play

Yards / Point

Points / Play

Baylor D

48.2

370.2

8.5

211.4

5

581.6

6.7

12.1

0.558

Rank

123

123

113

100

95

124

120

109

119

Iowa State O

21.3

199.8

5.8

115.8

3.4

315.7

4.5

14.8

0.303

Rank

92

91

111

99

99

110

109

68

91

If the Baylor Offense and Iowa State defense matchup was LSU/Alabama last year, this matchup is more like two bad Sunbelt teams facing off. The Iowa State offense might not be as bad as the Baylor defense, but it is pretty close. Both units here struggle substantially against the opposition. Iowa State has not found a quarterback that can accurately deliver the ball to the correct receiver, and the Bears have not been able to find a way to pressure the quarterback.

While neither team is great at any one thing on this side of the ball, they do have some areas where they are not as bad. When the Baylor defense can get turnovers, they are substantially better. That is the one area that has really fallen off the past 3 weeks, all losses for the Bears. When they have gotten a turnover in a game, they are 3-0. When not getting a turnover, they are 0-3. It might seem simple, but with such an explosive offense, the Bears have to get a few extra possessions to win the game.

Iowa State on the other hand is very efficient with the ball, considering their lack of explosiveness. They don't score a ton of points, but they make their yards count better than expected. They only need 14.8 yards to gain a point. That is partially due to their defense being so good at turning the opposition over, giving their offense a short field to work with.

There is a big question on what the Cyclone offense will look like, depending on which quarterback they utilize. With Jared Barnett, you can expect more of a diverse rushing attack involving more zone/read plays. With Steele Jantz, they lose some of their rushing ability but gain a player that can stretch the field horizontally with his strong arm. He is much more capable of the out patterns and shorter outside routes that pull defenders toward the sidelines, opening up the middle of the field for running backs.

Summary –

This is a real strength vs. strength and weakness vs. weakness battle. Both teams are desperate for a win, and need the weaker aspect of their squad to step up and help the strength of their team. Baylor's defense needs to simply step up and make a few plays, to either stop drives, hold the opposition to field goals, or get the ball back for one of the best offenses in the country. Iowa State needs it offense to hang onto the ball, and control the clock to help the defense slow down the Bears attack.


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