At the Half: Cyclones Down, 37-0

Sam Richardson was benched midway through the second quarter

Iowa State has 74 total yards to Baylor's 461, which says enough. The Bears' stats are gaudy as you'd expect. The game isn't close. In fact, at 37-0, Baylor has already covered its spread. There shouldn't be much to write about, but there's something …

Sam Richardson was benched down 20-0 with 8:59 left in the second quarter after he skipped a third down pass to Shontrelle Johnson, a play after being sacked. Richardson was 5-for-8 with 41 yards — not a line bad enough to warrant such an early benching, in my opinion.

Perhaps the coaching staff wanted to preserve Richardson's ankle for the rest of the season, thinking the game was already out of hand. Perhaps they thought Grant Rohach could provide a spark. What's clear is neither quarterback has been put in a position to succeed, with an offense running the same tired, unsuccessful stuff play after play, with Baylor's front four treating an in-flux offensive line as if it was air. Each quarterback was sacked once in the first half but was pressured on about every pass play.

How does Rohach look? It's hard to tell, as he's been put in a nasty situation to succeed in. He fit a pass into a small window for his first career completion, a four-yard gain to E.J. Bibbs. The play before, his first collegiate snap, he held on to the ball too long and was forced out of bounds. He should be able to generate some positive yardage in the second half against a Baylor team that will soon be resting its starters.

Few, if any, expected Iowa State to actually beat No. 12 Baylor, owner of the nation's best offense. But it's been worse than expected. Not only is the score embarrassing — the kind of score the Cyclones, five years into the Paul Rhoads regime, should be better than — but the decision to pull Richardson kick-starts a controversy halfway through a season already tough enough.

I thought there were two ways Rohach would play Saturday night: either Richardson struggles so much you have to pull him, or the score is so lopsided you have to protect his ankle. In no way did he play poorly enough to merit a benching. It must be the latter, but 20-0 midway through the second quarter is still awfully early.

Editor's Note:

Richardson started the third quarter.

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