Iowa State’s D is much better than Oklahoma’s State’s as it leads the Big 12 in both total and scoring defense.
While Baylor shouldn’t repeat its 58-14 debacle in Morgantown, it would take a near-perfect game to win in Ames.
The Baylor football players will be hit by a winter blast when they walk out of the tunnel at Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
With a forecast of 27 degrees, Saturday’s 2:30 p.m. game against No. 23 Iowa State in Ames will be the Bears’ coldest of the year.
But that’s OK with Baylor senior offensive lineman Blake Blackmar.
“Anything under 60 is great for me,” Blackmar said. “Honestly, I hope it snows a little bit because I’ve only seen snow probably twice in my whole life.”
But even if it was 10 degrees outside, Iowa State fans would probably pack the 61,500-seat stadium. They are some of the most loyal fans in the Big 12 and support the Cyclones through good and bad times.
“The time we went there before, we had an early game and they were out there loud and proud, a packed stadium,” Blackmar said. “I don’t think it was a great year for them when we went in there, but it was still jam packed. It’s a tough place to play and we’ve really got to bring our A game to get it done there.”
In their last trip to Ames on Oct. 1, 2016, the Bears pulled out a 45-42 win. The Cyclones were on their way to a 3-9 season in their first year under coach Matt Campbell, but they improved to 8-5 last year and capped the season with a 21-20 win over Memphis in the Liberty Bowl.
With four straight wins, the Cyclones (5-3, 4-2) are the hottest team in the Big 12 and have a shot to make the conference’s championship game. Both Iowa State and Baylor (5-4, 3-3) can secure bowl eligibility with a win.
For the first time since 1977, the Bears will play four straight road games against Top 25 teams. They dropped a 66-33 decision to Oklahoma on Sept. 29, a 23-17 nail biter to Texas on Oct. 13 and a 58-14 blowout against West Virginia on Oct. 25.
Baylor coach Matt Rhule knows the challenge his team faces on the road against the revitalized Cyclones.
“Their coach Matt Campbell is a winner and it will be a real challenge,” Rhule said. “Hopefully, we can learn the lessons from Oklahoma, Texas and West Virginia and go out and play against a team I have the most respect for. I just think we need to be completely focused on Iowa State this weekend.”
Taking over a decimated Baylor football team, Matt Rhule knew he needed players quickly no matter where they came from.
The Bears came through with their biggest win of the Rhule era when they overcame a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter for a 35-31 win over Oklahoma State last weekend at McLane Stadium.
After going through concussion protocol throughout last week, quarterback Charlie Brewer replaced Jalan McClendon late in the third quarter and led the Bears to three touchdowns, including the game-winning 6-yard scoring pass to Denzel Mims with seven seconds remaining.
One of Rhule’s biggest tasks this week has been keeping his team level headed following the big win.
“You’re happy about it, but there’s nothing really it can do for you,” said Baylor receiver Jalen Hurd. “What does a win really do for you in the next week? Not really anything. What does a loss do? Nothing. So you just put your head down and grind and keep working like you’ve been doing. Just focus on your details and knowing your assignment.”
Following the Iowa State game, the Bears will still have two games remaining against TCU on Nov. 17 at McLane Stadium and Texas Tech on Nov. 24 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. The Baylor underclassmen would like to see the seniors go out with a bowl.
“They’ve been through a lot”, said Baylor sophomore defensive lineman James Lynch. “They’ve been through new coaches and things like that. So being able to send them off the right way and the whole team showing that this process works, we’re getting better. Whenever we get to a bowl game, we can show the whole country that we are Baylor and we’re going to be here next year and the year after. So it’s nice to know that if we do what we’re supposed to do we’ll be bowl eligible.”
After a 1-3 start, the Cyclones have won four straight games since freshman Brock Purdy took over as quarterback. Purdy has performed like a seasoned veteran as he’s completed 66.3 percent for 1,085 yards and 12 touchdowns with just two interceptions.
“The biggest thing Brock gives us is multiplicity on offense,” Campbell said. “He’s been able to spread the ball around. He has the ability to make plays in and out of the pocket and he’s a factor in the running game.”
The emergence of Purdy makes the Cyclones’ attack much more versatile and not as reliant on running back David Montgomery, who appears on his way to his second straight 1,000-yard season as he’s rushed for 712 yards and six scores.
Iowa State also features a dynamic receiver corps led by Hakeem Butler, a major deep threat who is averaging 24 yards per catch with 33 catches for 791 yards and eight touchdowns. In the last four games, the Cyclones are averaging 36.1 points.
The Cyclones’ defense has been just as effective as the offense as it leads the conference in total defense by allowing 324.4 yards per game and is No. 1 in scoring defense by allowing 21.2 points per game. The Cyclones use a lot of disguises defensively that make them hard to prepare for.
“A lot of it is making sure you have the correct ID’s and knowing your job like the back of your hand, know your role,” Blackmar said. “The game plan isn’t going to be over the top complicated to deal with this defense. We’re going to keep it simple and attack them, and the best team on Saturday is going to win.”
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