Iowa State Game Prep Part 2

Baylor and Iowa State matchup for the last homecoming game ever at Floyd Casey Stadium. The Bears are 5-0 and looking to become bowl eligible in their first 6 games. What are the keys to making that happen and what does the BearsIllustrated staff think about this game?

Offense vs. Defense

When Baylor has the ball

The Baylor attack was slowed down considerably last weekend for the first time in the 2013 season by a 4-3 defense that played back quite a bit and made the Bears beat them underneath. Well, that is pretty much what the Bears can expect again this weekend against Iowa State. However, the talent is not quite the same in the back end of the defense as Iowa State doesn't have a Ty Zimmerman back there patrolling the deep middle.

The Cyclones do have Jacques Washington though who is by far the most experienced defender that Iowa State can put on the field. But he is not their star that would be Jeremiah George, one of the best linebackers in the Big 12 so far. George is the leading tackler in the Big 12 so far this year with 51 tackles (Washington is second with 50, while Byrce Hager is third with 48). The Senior middle linebacker is excellent in coverage, and covers a ton of ground. He is the key to their defense, and the Baylor line has to account for him on every play.

While the Cyclones might not have the horses on the defensive line of the deep secondary to match up with the Bears attack, they do have some improving corners in Sam Richardson and Jansen Watson.. Richardson, not the quarterback, is a first year starter for the Cyclones and the sophomore leads them in passes broken up with 5. Richardson and Watson are both quite undersized for the corner position, but they are tough and sure tacklers when they line you up. However, look for the Bears to throw some jump balls or passes up high with Goodley or the missing in action the last few weeks Jay Lee to take advantage of their height advantage.

When Iowa State has the ball

The Cyclones are going to want to run. They will run with Aaron Wimberly out of the pistol formation, out of shotgun with the zone read. They will give him the ball downhill and let him run in between the guards, but he is much more explosive inside or outside of the tackles. He also has the speed to get to the edge and get around the defense. With the Bears struggles at defensive end against the Kansas State rushing attack, you can expect a heavy dose of off-tackle runs, counters, traps and any other running play designed to take advantage of a defensive ends propensity to not fulfill his proper assignment.

One area that the Cyclones won't be able to do as much damage in the running attack is with quarterback runs. Normally, Richardson would be a guy to watch out for as he is a sneaky fast runner who makes great reads in the option game. However, he is battling a tough ankle injury that has limited his ability to be a dangerous threat with his legs. Against Texas, he rushed for 83 yards but last week against Texas Tech, he was limited to just 49. The Bears defense can't forget completely about Richardson's legs, but with his injuries, he isn't the threat that he could have been.

In the passing game though, it is primarily shorter routes, with them hoping to sneak a guy past the safeties every once in a while. That guy is usually Quenton Bundrage, who we will cover a bit more in the keys to the game. The Cyclones don't run a ton of deep routes, and that is primarily because it is on Sam Richardson's strength. He missed several open guys against Texas and Texas Tech that could have been huge plays for Iowa State. He doesn't have the strongest arm and

Fun Stats to Ponder

-The four teams that Iowa State has lost to in 2013 have a combined record of 18-6, and have only outscored the Cyclones by an average of 5.5 points per game

-Iowa State was the last team to hold the Bears to under 30 points (21 on October 27, 2012)

-The Cyclones are just 6-85-1 on the road against ranked teams, but Paul Rhoads is 4-16 all-time against ranked teams. He is the first Cyclones coach to upset a ranked team in each of the last three seasons

-Rhoads has three of the 6 road wins against ranked team, but the highest ranked was TCU (#15 in 2012)

-Through the first five games of the year, 20 Cyclones have recorded their first career start, including 5 freshman and 7 sophomores

-Baylor is 16-1 in its home games since 2011

-The Bears have won 5-straight Big 12 conference games

-Phil Bennett's defense has forced two or more turnovers in 9 of the last 12 games, which Baylor is 10-2 in. They are 19-2 in Bennett's tenure at Baylor when getting 2 or more takeaways

Keys to the Game

1. Get that Home Mojo Working

You cannot say that the road was terribly unkind to the Bears, as they did escape Manhattan with a win, but it sure as heck wasn't as comfortable and loving as home. Well, welcome back to Waco Bears. Look for the Bears to come out fast and hitting on all cylinders as they play for the third week in a row all season. The Bears are averaging over 70 points per game in home games. They are playing with such speed and precision that the offensive numbers look unbelievable so far. Baylor has to come home and get back the groove that they struggled to find in Manhattan.

2. Force Iowa State to throw the ball short and tackle

For the second straight game, the Bears face off against primarily a running attack based team. But the Cyclones are much more comfortable in the passing game than the Bears opponent last week. But Iowa State really focuses on the short passing game (outside of one player, who we will get too) and will dump off the ball to their running backs or tight ends frequently. In fact, over 30% of the Cyclones completions have been to running backs or tight ends. They will spread the ball out vertically quite a bit, with their running backs running flare patterns out to the flat.

This has been an issue for the Bears defense in past years, as the linebackers were just not quick enough or could read the play well enough to cover that route. Eddie Lackey and Sam Holl though are both much better coverage players than the Bears have seen in the past for the flat routes though, and they should be tested in this game by both running backs and tight ends.

3. Stay over the top of Bundrage

Last week, the Bears didn't have to worry about the two major deep speed threats of Kansas State, as both Tyler Lockett and Tramaine Thompson were out with injuries. They won't have that luxury against Iowa State, as Quenton Bundrage is more than healthy. Bundrage has been lighting up defenses all year, as one of the biggest surprise play makers in the Big 12. Last year as a freshman, Bundrage had 20 catches and just 2 touchdowns. But in his second year, he has taken a big step forward. Against Iowa, he was brilliant, burning the Hawkeyes for 137 yards and three touchdowns. He opened the score for the Cyclones with a 67 yard catch from Sam Richardson, and then went ahead and scored the other two touchdowns on the day for Iowa State as well. Against Texas, he had a 97 yard touchdown pass where he ran a simple deep slant, and just outran the defense.

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Look for the Bears to play less Zero Coverage with no safety help, and make sure they keep a defender between Bundrage and the goal line, as he is the one player on offense that can score from anywhere on the field.

4. Don't get killed on Special Teams

But Bundrage isn't the only weapon they have that can make huge plays. You just won't find it on offense. The Cyclones are 16th in the country in Kickoff returns, averaging 25.63 yards per return. They are also above average in punt returns as well, ranking 43rd in the country with a 10.5 yards per return average. The Cyclones have a distinctive advantage in terms of the return and return defense aspects of Special Teams.

Special Teams Breakdown

Iowa State (Rank)

Baylor (Rank)


Kickoff Return 25.63 (16) 20.96 (59) Kickoff Defense
Kickoff Defense 18.86 (26) 17 (121) Kickoff Return
Punt Return 10.50 (43) 14.00 (112) Punt Defense
Punt Defense 2.43 (10) 6.60 (76) Punt Return

The Cyclones are better at returning and return defense as well, and it really isn't close. Now, the Bears punt defense is skewed quite a bit because they have only allowed 1 return on the year. But the Cyclones are a good special teams squad, just like Kansas State who dominated that aspect of the game last weeked. The Wildcats got 14 yards on their 1 punt return, averaged 24.3 yards on their 3 kickoff returns, and had a blocked punt for good measure. The Bears cannot get killed on special teams for a second week in a row.

5. Don't lose track of Jeremiah George

The Senior linebacker has been one of the most productive defenders in the Big 12 so far in 2013. After playing next to A.J. Klein and Jake Knott for the past few years, George now takes over the top spot on the linebacker pecking order. He is the best linebacker in coverage, rushing the passer, or stopping the run. He is a tremendous player with great sideline to sideline speed. For the Bears rushing attack to succeed, they have to find George and make sure that one of the Baylor lineman gets a hat on him to keep him off of Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin.

Predictions

Massey Ratings – Bears win 55-35

RealTime RPI – Bears win 49-13

TeamRankings.com – Bears win 54.8-21.8

Chris Bullajian, BearsIllustrated.com Publisher - Bears win 49-21

Bears win. Don't cover. Baylor finds themselves in Top 10 come Sunday.

Steve Brischke, BearsIllustrated.com Administrator - Bears win 52-24

Iowa State has not lost by more than 8 points all season. That is likely to change in Waco, Saturday. Although the Baylor coaches and players will tell you all they are looking for our W's, whether that be by 1 point or 30 points, most signs signal this as Baylor having a major advantage. The biggest factor has become the home field advantage Baylor now holds. They are simply a better, more explosive team on their home turf. For a team that is average offensively and defensively in Iowa State, that spells trouble. The Bears should start to control the game in the 2nd quarter and maintain a good cushion throughout the rest of the game. I'm predicting Baylor wins big.

Kevin Barrera, BearsIllustrated.com Contributor - Bears win 55-17

Iowa State comes in to this game off of two emotional losses against Texas and at Texas Tech. The Bears, however, are coming off of a big road win at Kansas State. Many believe that the Cyclones will come in to Waco and try to control the game much like Kansas State. Only problem is Iowa State doesn't have the type of running threat at QB that the Wildcats did. Baylor will continue their dominant ways, at Floyd Casey Stadium, and will rest easy in the 4th quarter. Bears roll.

Tim Watkins, BearsIllustrated.com Writer - Bears win 56-28

It is homecoming for the Bears, and it should be a fun one. Iowa State is a solid team, but one that is much more dangerous at home. Expect the Bears to get their running game going, as Lache Seastrunk was finally slowed down and saw his streak of 100 yard rushing games halted. This will be the game that starts a new streak for him. The Cyclones just do not have the firepower to keep up with the Bears, nor do they have the consistent rushing attack to play keep away as the Baylor offense plays tic-tac-toe on the sidelines. The Bears will score 50+ points and get some of their mojo back and send the Baylor fans home happy at the last homecoming game at Floyd Casey Stadium.


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