The Baylor Bears continue their 2015 season Saturday morning against Iowa State. At 6-0, the Bears are ranked second in the nation in both major polls, while the Cyclones come in at just 2-4 on the season and looking to pull a major upset. The Cyclones only two wins this year were over winless Kansas and FCS school Northern Iowa. 7th year Head Coach Paul Rhoads has only finished with a winning record in 1 season, his first. Simply put, he needs a statement win, and a lot more victories overall, to keep his job. This is the second week in a row where the Cyclones have a chance to secure a massive upset. Last weekend, TCU came to Ames, IA and after a tenous first quarter that saw Iowa State get out to a 21-14 lead, the Horned Frogs pulled away for an easy victory, 45-21. This time though, Iowa State is on the road, where the Cyclones are just 1-6 the past two seasons.
Players to Watch
Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports
Sam. B. Richardson - Senior Quarterback
The Cyclones have been searching for years for a quarterback to truly grab the reins of the offense and take off. Richardson has been fighting for that right for 4 years now, and has struggled with injuries, a lack of a supporting cast, and some mistakes throughout his career. In 2014, he finally started to put everything together, so there were high hopes for the senior signal caller to be one of the better quarterbacks in the Big 12 and lead a bounceback year for coach Paul Rhoads. It hasn't worked out that way, especially against the better teams the Cyclones have faced. Richardson had just 139 passing yards and 3 interceptions in their loss to Texas Tech.
Mike Warren - Freshman Running Back
The redshirt freshman was a 3-star recruit in the 2014 class, ranked as the 78th best running back in the class. In his first action as a Cyclone, Warren has been one of their best players, leading the team in rushing with 652 yards. The first two games of the year, Warren only had 9 carries for 28 yards, however the past four games, he has been a revelation. He rushed for over 126 yards in three straight games, including a ridiculous 245 yard effort against Texas Tech. He is averaging 7 yards per carry, is third in the Big 12 in rushing yardage, and has the highest average yards per rush of any player that does not play for Baylor in the Big 12.
Allen Lazard - Sophomore Wide Receiver
The former 4-star and top-150 recruit in the 2014 class, Lazard is the full pacage for a wide receiver. At 6-foot-5, he brings tremendous size and physicality to the position. He leads the Cyclones with 29 receptions, 406 yards and 3 touchdowns. Lazard teams well with enior receiver Quenton Bundrage, who is second on the team in receptions (21) and yardage (264).
Brian Peavy - Freshman Cornerback
Another member of the 2014 recruiting class, Peavy is an undersize corner who leads the team in tackles with 41. He has also chipped in 1 interception and a team high 5 passes defended. Peavy has been attacked quite a bit this year, as teams look to avoid the more experienced Nigel Tribune.
Dale Pierson - Senior Defensive End
The junior college transfer has really exploded so far this year. He leads the team 9 tackles for loss and 6 sacks. He is a very active defensive end, and someone that has quite a few pass rush moves. He is 7th on the team in tackles, which is very strong for a rushing defensive end. At 6-foot-2, 249 pounds, Pierson is a little undersized for a true defensive end, but uses his speed well to get around blockers.
Keys to the Game
1. Survive the Hurricane - Weather reports for Saturday are looking pretty nasty, with major rain and storms expected to hit Waco and Central Texas throughout the morning/early afternoon. Baylor has played in ideal environments so far this year, so some bad wather could be a challenge. If the wind and rain are too problematic, it could take away some of the Bears advantage in the passing game.
2. Get Ready for Tricks - News out of Ames is that backup QB Joel Lanning could see some time against the Bears this Sturday. Lanning had two plays against TCU, including a long TD pass. Expect more of this from a desperate team, and coaching staff. Reverses, HB or WR passes, heck maybe even multiple quarterbacks on the field for Iowa State. The Cyclones have nothing to lose, and this is a team with some talent at the skill positions.
3. Focused and Hungy - The coaching staff is saying all of the right things, as are the players. This is the most important game on the schedule, as it is a one-week at a time approach. Sure, that sounds good, but it is so easy to overlook this game. With an off-week next week before the Thursday night game on the road against Kansas State, the Bears eyes might be wandering to the key November games still ahead of them. That is how you get beat. Looking ahead can cost you.
Massey Ratings – Bears win 52-25
RealTime RPI – Bears win 4
TeamRankings.com - Bears win 59-22
Vegas Line - Baylor -37
Staff Predictions COMING SOON!