Iowa State Cyclone vs. #2 Baylor Bears Preview

With Baylor TE LaQuan McGowan paving the way, the Bears should score lots of points. Photo Courtesy: Matthew Lynch
With Baylor TE LaQuan McGowan paving the way, the Bears should score lots of points.
Photo Courtesy: Matthew Lynch

By Jeff Cantrell

Game Info
Iowa State Cyclones vs. #2 Baylor Bears
Saturday – October 24 – 11:00 am CT
McLane Stadium – Waco

This Saturday, the #2 ranked Baylor Bears host the Iowa State Cyclones at McLane Stadium on Homecoming weekend. Iowa State is coming off of a pair of tough losses. Two weeks ago, the Cyclones fell 66-31 to Texas Tech. Last week, the Cyclones played well in the first quarter against #3 TCU, taking a 21-14 lead into the second quarter. However, the Cyclones were held scoreless the rest of the game and fell to the Horned Frogs 45-21.

Baylor is coming off a solid 62-38 win over the West Virginia Mountaineers. In doing so, the Bears achieved something that, according to the folks that keep track of these kinds of stats, has only happened once since Grover Cleveland was in his first term as President. Baylor joins the 2008 Oklahoma team as the only two teams that have scored 50+ points in six consecutive games since Harvard accomplished the feat during the 1887 season. Additionally, Baylor ties the NCAA record set by the same 2008 Oklahoma team with five consecutive games of 60+ points.

Lead by QB Seth Russell, Baylor’s offense put on a solid performance against West Virginia. The Bears passed the ball for huge chunks as Russell completed 22 of his 33 passes for 380 yards and five touchdowns. WR Corey Coleman was again the favorite target, as he caught 10 passes for 199 yards and three scores. K.D. Cannon, Jay Lee and TE Trevor Clemons-Valdez also had catches in the game, and combined for 190 yards and three touchdowns on 11 receptions, which gives you an idea of how dominant Coleman was in the game.

In the run game, Seth Russell took center stage as he ran for 160 yards and a TD on 14 attempts with an 11.4 yard per carry average. RB Shock Linwood finished second in rushing with 84 yards on 19 carries and a TD. This is a season low of 4.4 yards per carry for Linwood as West Virginia largely kept the Baylor running backs in check. However, in focusing so much on the stopping the running backs, the Mountaineers left Russell unguarded to run around them for large chunks of yardage. About the only negative for the Bears offense, who did not have a turnover and few penalties, was in the low 3rd down percentage. Baylor went 4-13 on third downs, opting to go for it on 4th down five times, converting four of those attempts. This is certainly not ideal and something that the Bears will want to address this week against the Cyclones.

On defense, the Bears got the job done. West Virginia scored only two touchdowns and one field goal on their seven first half possessions. In the second half, the Bears gave up only two touchdowns while forcing the Mountaineers to punt twice and turned it over on downs three times. LB Taylor Young, S Orion Stewart, and NB Trevon Blanchard led the Bears in total tackles, each having nine in the game. DT Andrew Billings led the Bears in tackles for loss, as he bulldozed his way to three on the day. CB Ryan Reid also had a good day as he picked off QB Skyler Howard, on a throw to the end zone, for his first career interception.

Special teams play was spotty for the Bears. K Chris Callahan’s went 2 for 2 on field goals, with both marked at the 36 yard line. P Drew Galitz’s two punts were both fair caught, with one of them marked at the West Virginia 11 yard line. However, on the negative side, West Virginia ran one kickoff return for a gain of 43 yards, and late in the 4th quarter ran another kickoff 100 yards down the field for a touchdown. Luckily, if was too little too late, and Baylor countered when on the ensuing WVU kickoff, WR Chris Platt came close to duplicating the performance by running the ball back 84 yards before being stopped just short of the goal line, at the West Virginia 3 yard line. Baylor could have easily run the ball in for another score with 1:05 left on the clock, but chose instead to run the clock out to conclude the game.

Looking ahead, it would be easy to just dismiss Iowa State because of their 2-4 record. However, three of those losses came against teams currently ranked in the top 25. They are a good but not a spectacular team that is capable of giving the Bears a scare if Baylor doesn’t take them seriously.

What to look for when Baylor has the ball

  • I would be surprised if QB Seth Russell carries the ball more than a few times against the Cyclones. His running outburst against West Virginia appeared to be more out of a need to exploit what the Mountaineers were doing defensively than anything else. Iowa State has not shown that it can effectively stop the run, and Shock Linwood should be able to return to form against the Cyclones, so look for him to have a 150+ yard and two touchdowns in this one.
  • WR Corey Coleman has been the story for Baylor as of late, and needs just 123 yards against the Cyclones to break 1000 yards on the season. Coleman’s 16 touchdown catches matches the total number of touchdowns by the rest of the Baylor receivers this season. A few more touchdown catches against Iowa State would also go a long way to cementing him in the Heisman conversation, which he has started to creep into with his spectacular mid-season numbers and the highlight real display he put on against a good West Virginia defense.
  • Baylor’s big tight ends should be heavily involved in the game again this week. With offensive coordinator Kendal Briles emphasizing the run game this season, the big boys, LaQuan McGowan and Trevor Clemons-Valdez, have become a very important part of the offense. Both started their Baylor careers as linemen before moving to the tight end position. The Bears can line them up in the tight-end spot or put them in the backfield as a blocking fullback. Their strength, size and experience in pushing people around provide the Bears with a powerful weapon in the run game. Add in the extra threat that each gives Baylor in the passing game, and it’d be easy to understand why opposing defenses are nervous when these men are in the game. Look for McGowan and Clemons-Valdez to make an impact against the Cyclones in this one.

What to look for when Iowa State has the ball

  • Iowa State’s leading rusher is Freshman RB Mike Warren, who has run for 652 yards on 93 carries and scored three touchdowns this season. It will be the job of Baylor’s linebackers, Taylor Young and Grant Campbell to contain him. Considering the job that they and the Baylor defense have done so far this year against the run, I look for Young Campbell and NB Trevon Blanchard to again rank near the top in tackles for the Bears.
  • As previously mentioned, CB Ryan Reid snagged his first career interception against West Virginia. Against Iowa State, Reid and fellow corner Orion Stewart will have more opportunities to pick one off from Cyclones QB Sam B. Richardson who has thrown six so far this season. If the Baylor Linebackers do their job, it will be on the arm of Richardson to keep Iowa State in the game. Will the Baylor corners be able to take advantage of this and take one the other way for six?

Based on what TCU and Texas Tech were able to do against Iowa State, it’s not likely to be a contest for long. The Cyclones may be able to stand toe to toe with Baylor for a quarter maybe even the first half, as they did against TCU, but Baylor’s explosive offense will overpower Iowa State and this should end in another big blow-out.

Prediction: Baylor 63 – Iowa State 24