Baylor vs. Iowa State Game Prep

The second of three consecutive road games is upon us, as the Bears travel north to face off against the Iowa State Cyclones.

Baylor’s road exodus continues up in Ames, IA this weekend, as their Odyssey like travels take them far away from the friendly confines of McLane Stadium for almost a full month. That is a Greek tragedy and a Baylor tragedy of the highest order. I guess that would make Art Briles Odysseus and Waco Ithaca, but my Greek Epic Poems knowledge base have deteriorated quite a bit since freshman year English.

Matchup 7/6 BAYLOR (3-0) vs. NR/NR BUFFALO (1-2)
Date Sat., Sept. 27 | 7:20 p.m. CT
Location Ames, Iowa | Jack Trice Stadium (54,800)
Radio ESPN Central Texas | Sirius 112 | XM 202
Online Audio Listen Online
Live Stats Gametracker
Gameday Info Gameday Central
Ticket Info Tickets
Game Notes Baylor Notes|Iowa State Notes
Twitter @BUFootball

Fun Stats of the Game

-Baylor leads the FBS in scoring offense (59.3 ppg) and total offense (654.3 ypg), while Iowa State is 88th in scoring defense (27.7 ppg) and 89th in total defense (417.3 ypg).

-The Iowa State-Baylor series is tied at 6-6 and the Cyclones have a 4-2 edge in games played in Ames.

-With one of the nation’s most dangerous return men in its arsenal in Jarvis West, the Cyclones lead the Big 12 and rank second nationally in punt returns (29.25). Baylor is 13th best in punt returns against at 1 yard per return.

-Baylor's offensive line is 1 of 3 teams to not have allowed a sack this season (112 pass attempts). Iowa State is 52nd in the nation in sacks per game at 2.33 (7 total in 2014).

Key Matchups

-Antwan Goodley vs Nigel Tribune

For the first time, I choose a one-on-one matchup to look at here, rather than just positions. Nigel Tribune is a very good young corner for Iowa State. He is just a sophomore and has been a strong point for the Cyclones defense. Antwan Goodley is a preseason All-American, looking to make his first impact on the 2014 season. With rust a prominent factor, will the Cyclones be able to single cover Goodley and thus help out on other receivers? Will Goodley be able to exploit that matchup causing the Cyclones to adjust on the fly and opening up other weapons for the Bears?

-Baylor Defensive Line against Sam Richardson

As Kevin and I spoke about in the podcast, the Bears front will have an interesting challenge with Mr. Sam B Richardson. He is a good running threat out of the backfield, and has done a great job of keeping plays alive and making things happen with his feet or his arm. Last year, he would run at the first chance he got, but this year he is more patient in the offense, and is working his reads much more effectively.

The Bears will have to do a few things to make sure Richardson does not exploit an aggressive Baylor front. First, the Baylor defensive ends will probably not rush up field as much in their pass rush, simply to try and keep Richardson in the pocket. Getting to far up field will give Richardson large cut-back lanes, or wide open passing lanes. The Bears will have to be disciplined in their pass rush, and make sure to collapse the pocket on and around the junior quarterback.

Secondly, expect run blitzes that fill gaps much more effectively than some of the pass rushes the Bears have done. The blitz with Taylor Young running up the A-Gap, has been incredibly effective at times in 2014, and I expect to see that look much more in this game. Finally, the Bears will utilize a spy anytime they go to a man defense look in the backfield. Putting Collin Brence or Aiavion Edwards in a spy role will allow the secondary to focus on the wide receivers. With a zone look, the Bears will have many defenders looking at the line of scrimmage, but with a man defense, the secondary is turning and running with their coverage assignment. That is a dangerous thing to do with a running threat at quarterback, so the Bears could counter with a spy on Richardson.

Analytical Breakdown

FEI Rank



F/+ Rank



S&P+ Rank



GE Rank









RealTime RPI



Team Rankings Rank






The Bears have a large advantage across pretty much every single metric used here. The only metric that is even remotely close is FEI, which accounts for strength of schedule. The Cyclones have lost to some good teams, and beaten an average Iowa team, while the Bears have simply destroyed three bad to awful football teams. This Baylor team is ranked higher than this time last year in most categories, partly due to the 2013 data still being used in some metrics. The Cyclones rankings in defense and offense are pretty bad, until you start adjusting for pace and opponent. Then they simply turn from pretty bad to just below average.

Keys to the Game

1. Get that Running Game Going – I love that the Bears rushing attack is considered to be “struggling” when they are 29th in the nation in rushing offense per game at 238.33 and 36th overall in rushing yards per attempt at 5.07. That is the new definition of a struggling component of the Baylor offensive machine. Our eyes though tell us that something is off with the run game. The push from the offensive line has been lacking, with the guard play being below what we have come to expect the last few years.

The Cyclones are awful against the run so far in 2014, allowing 221 yards per game (110th in the nation). They are 102nd in yards per rush at 5.14. This is a team that has been run over by some good rushing attacks though, so I think that these averages are skewed against Iowa State. The big question will be will the Cyclones stack the box to stop the run, like all three opponents for the Bears have done in 2014? If they do that again, expect to see more deep passes and long touchdowns for KD Cannon and the gang. However, when the Bears do find themselves against a weaker front, they have to do a better job of exploiting that look and forcing the action that way as well.

2. Work the “new” guys back in – Welcome back Antwan Goodley and Corey Coleman. We hardly know thee this year. Coleman will be seeing his first action of 2014 after dealing with some hamstring issues late in fall camp. Goodley played a quarter or so against SMU before dealing with some leg tightness. Both are looking for their first catch of the 2014 season. The Bears passing attack has more than survived with the loss of these two starters, to go along with a few other key pieces. Working these two back in and getting them fully up and running probably isn’t a key to beating Iowa State, but it is a key to the overall season outlook. The Bears need a dangerous Antwan Goodley against some of the top-end teams they are playing, and that starts with Saturday night against Iowa State.

3. Defend with Passion – For the times that the Baylor defense has been tuned into the game, they have dominated. They did not allow a touchdown for the first 10 quarters of action, only to allow three dubious ones to Buffalo in the second half. You could tell a lack of passion and focus ( to go along with some stat pushing for sacks and tackles for loss) allowed the Bulls to get some big plays against the Baylor defense. Iowa State is not the most effective offense in the world, but they might be the best one the Bears have faced in 2014. Baylor will have to bring that passion for the full four quarters, and make sure the ground and pound clock killing style does not keep the Bears offense in the parking lot for most of the game.


Massey Ratings – Bears win 42-29

RealTime RPI – Bears win 48-16 – Bears win 47-25

Staff Predictions COMING SOON!

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