ISU impressed by No. 12 Baylor’s flow
WACO, Texas – When Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads watched film of Baylor’s offense, there was more that impressed him than just all the big numbers.
“They do it so easy. There’s just a relative ease that they accomplish all these absurd numbers, yardage, points, and the speed with what they’re doing it,” Rhoads said. “They’re not complicated. … They just line up and play fast with fast players. It’s exciting to watch them.”
Rhoads might not feel the same way when he gets an up-close view Saturday night. The Cyclones (1-4, 0-2 Big 12) will be the Homecoming opponent for the 12th-ranked Bears (5-0, 2-0).
Baylor is the nation’s most productive offense, with 715 total yards and 63 points a game.
And those are updated numbers after being held to 451 yards and having to score two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to win 35-25 at Kansas State. That was 241 yards and 34 points below the Bears’ previous season-low totals.
That game at K-State was the Bears’ first on the road, and they passed the test.
“I definitely think that it was a confidence booster,” said running back Glasco Martin, whose late TD run clinched the K-State victory. “Just to see our team come together and mature was really a big thing for us that we could step up and win on the road.”
Now the Bears are back at Floyd Casey Stadium, where they have averaged 779.5 yards and 70.5 points in four games this season. They have won 16 of their last 17 home games, and nine in a row overall.
Even so, Rhoads wasn’t tempted to watch only the K-State film to see what the Wildcats did to slow down Baylor.
“You’ve got to look at the whole body of work,” Rhoads said. “Everywhere you look, they deserve their No. 12 ranking in the country.”
Here are five things to know when Iowa State serves as Baylor’s opponent for homecoming:
GOING FOR 10: Baylor has the Big 12’s longest winning streak at nine games in a row. With one more the Bears will match the school record of 10 that has stood since 1937. The Bears also had a nine-game winning streak through three games in 2012, but the only other time they did was 1915-16. Only No. 4 Ohio State (18) and top-ranked Alabama (10) have longer active winning streaks.
SERIES LEADER: While Baylor is favored by more than four touchdowns, Iowa State won 35-21 in last year’s game at Ames. The Cyclones have won six of 11 in the series that had only one game before they became Big 12 foes in 1996. “They’re willing to take a chance. They play like they have nothing to lose,” Baylor safety Ahmad Dixon said. “When you go up against a team like that, you have to know that they will be giving out the same shots as us. We are expecting our kind of trick plays and deep routes.”
OH SO CLOSE: Iowa State is scoring more than it has in Rhoads’ first four seasons at 29 points a game, and is plus-six in turnover margin. But that isn’t translating into wins. The Cyclones’ four losses are by a combined 22 points. Quarterback Sam B. Richardson is playing with a bum ankle. “He hasn’t been great and he certainly hasn’t been bad,” Rhoads said. “Injuries are part of the game, and you deal with that. With that in mind, I think he’s played good football for us.”
TACKLING DUO: Linebackers Jake Knott and A.J. Klein have moved on after being the heart of the Iowa State defense for several seasons. But the Cyclones still have the Big 12’s top two tacklers. Linebacker Jeremiah George, whose 31 consecutive starts are the most on the team, is the Big 12 leader with 10.2 tackles per game. Second in the league is ISU safety Jacques Washington with 10.0 per game. Central Michigan is the only other team with two players averaging at least 10 tackles.
RANKING HIGH: Baylor’s No. 12 ranking in the AP poll is its highest since being No. 8 in 1991. This is also the first time the Bears have ever been the highest-ranked Big 12 team. “After 12 weeks, we’d love to be. To me, that’s when it’s important,” Baylor coach Art Briles said. “It’s certainly a positive step in the right direction, because that does say something.” That No. 8 ranking in 1991 came after a 5-0 start, and the Bears were unranked when they finished 8-4.