1) Question: Iowa State has played every team tough this season. All their losses have been in single digits. What is the team's mentality right now as a football team?
Answer: The fans were realistic entering the season that it was going to take some time for a young team to gel. A weird schedule — two games in the first four weeks of the season — didn't help. The players are obviously frustrated they haven't been able to swing these close losses in their direction, but head coach Paul Rhoads has done a nice job of not playing the blame game and refusing the "we can't catch a break" storyline. I asked Monday if he bought into the idea his team was just really unlucky, and he said no. So, Iowa State's mindset right now is to keep grinding with the hope their breakthrough or annual upset is right around the corner. I haven't heard anyone give up on the season even with a bowl trip really unlikely.
2) Question: What type of things do you expect to see from this Cyclone defense to try and limit the Baylor offense this week?
Answer: Defensive coordinator Wally Burnham keeps things pretty vanilla, so lots of zone, a minimal amount of blitzes and pretty basic coverages packages. The Cyclones haven't gone to a dime look this season, not that I've seen. First priority is stopping the run game, which they didn't do a good job of against Texas Tech (251 yards). Pretty much the same stuff they did last year, try to keep everything in front of them.
3) Question: On offense for Iowa State, who do you expect to shine on Saturday in Waco?
Answer: I'd guess running back Aaron Wimberly, if he's healthy, will get at least 20 carries as Iowa State tries to keep its defense off the field. Wimberly notched over 100 yards against Tulsa and Texas but was injured against Texas Tech and only received four second-half carries. He's best out of the pistol, where his vision allows him to pick a seam and cut to it. Wideout Quenton Bundrage is emerging as one of the better receivers in the conference but the line hasn't give quarterback Sam Richardson enough time to hit Bundrage deep much; most of his damage comes on intermediate routes that he's able to break.
4) Question: The line for this game is somewhere near 31 points. What is your take on that?
Answer: While I don't have any reservations Baylor will win, I can't see Iowa State losing a game by that many points, with as close as things have been this season.
5) Question: How good do you think this Baylor football team is right now in your honest opinion?
Answer: The Bears are the best team in the conference. Granted, I don't know how much that's saying in 2013. But obviously Baylor has one of the two best offenses in the country. The stretch from Nov. 7 to Dec. 7 is going to be really difficult, but the Bears would obviously prefer OU and OSU to have been undefeated for their Nov. 7 and 23 games to help boost a strength of schedule that right now would not win out over an SEC or Pac-12 team. Baylor is probably going to win the conference and go to a BCS bowl, but it's too early still to talk about a national championship when public perception has Baylor behind Alabama, Oregon and Ohio State among the ranks of the undefeated. Even if Baylor's strength of schedule is tougher than Ohio State's, I'd be shocked if the Bears jumped the Buckeyes. Two of those teams need to lose.
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