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Iowa State vs. Baylor: Preview and Prediction

NCAA Football: Iowa State at Baylor

Here is everything you need to know about the Big 12 game between Baylor (5-4, 3-3 in Big 12) and Iowa State (5-3, 4-2).

Game info

2:30 p.m. Central Time, Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018, Jack Trice Stadium, Ames, Iowa

TV: FS1 (Brian Custer and Ben Leber)

Radio: Baylor: Baylor IMG Sports Network / ESPN Central Texas; Iowa State: Cyclone Radio Network/Learfield; Satellite Radio: Sirius 113 / XM 199

 

Key players

Baylor

QB Charlie Brewer. That comeback was kind of awesome, right? Brewer entered the game with Oklahoma State last weekend with the Bears down 24-14 and he led them back to a 35-31 win. He was cleared from concussion protocol before that game, but he didn’t start. That likely won’t be the case Saturday against the Cyclones. Expect Brewer to start on Saturday.

LB Clay Johnston. His 17 tackles against Oklahoma State (14 of them solo) were a career-high. Plus, his 14 solo tackles are second-best in FBS this season. Johnston leads the team with 59 tackles.  

WR Jalen Hurd. He’s emerged as one of the Bears’ top weapons this season. Hurd has three-or-more receptions in all nine games in 2018. 42 of his 57 receptions this season have gone for a first down or a touchdown, fourth most in Power 5 and second in the Big 12.

DL James Lynch. The lineman continues to lead the Bears in sacks this season (5.5), but the Bears pass rush isn’t limited to him. He’s just the spearhead of a dozen Bears with at least a half-sack this season.

Iowa State

QB Brock Purdy. Purdy took over as the starting quarterback four games ago. The Cyclones have won four straight games. Coincidence? Nope. Since taking over in the last four games, Purdy is averaging 271.3 yards passing, 320.5 yards of total offense and completing 66.3 percent of his passes. Purdy has accounted for 13 of ISU’s 18 touchdowns in the last four games (12 passing, 1 rushing). That’s just talent from one of the front-runners for Big 12 Newcomer of the Year. Or Big 12 Freshman of the Year. Either one.

DE JaQuan Bailey. Bailey leads ISU in sacks (5.5) and tackles for loss (10.5). Bailey also ranks third in the Big 12 and 35th nationally in tackles for loss (10.5) and fifth in the Big 12 and 43rd nationally in sacks (5.5). He was one of the reasons the Cyclones upset West Virginia at home.

WR Hakeem Butler. Some of us at HeartlandCollegeSports.com were worried about ISU’s wide receiver situation entering this season (OK, it may have just been me). Butler has assuaged any concerns I had as he leads the team in receiving yards (791), receptions (33) and touchdown catches (8). He also leads FBS in yards per reception (23.97 per catch).

OL Colin Newell. A freshman lineman who has made seven starts this season, it’s probably not a coincidence that his slide into the starting lineup has helped the offense overall. There’s talent and motivation. As a kid he sold game programs at Jack Trice Stadium.   

 

Key storylines

Saturday marks only the 2nd time ever Baylor has played four consecutive road games against a ranked opponent and the first time since 1977. It is only the fourth time BU has played four ranked road games in a season (‘53, ‘77, ‘85). Baylor leads the all-time series 9-7 with the series tied 4-4 in Ames. The Bears have won their last two visits to Jack Trice Stadium in 2016 (45-42) and 2014 (49-28). BU won four straight overall from 2013-15. ISU’s current four-game conference win streak ties for third in school history, marking the eighth time in school history ISU has won four or more league games in a row. The school record is five (1960-61; 1978-79) across multiple seasons. ISU has never won five league games in a row in a single season.

Baylor

The Bears are one win away from reaching bowl eligibility for the first time under head coach Matt Rhule. The Bears have only won consecutive games on this season (a 2-0 start) and their horrible loss at West Virginia could have been a death knell to their season. Instead, the comeback win over Oklahoma State gives them new life and a shot at a bowl game. Brewer’s return gives the Bears their top triggerman for a full game (assuming he doesn’t suffer another injury) and between Hurd and Denzel Mims, the Bears have two receivers that can test secondaries. The defense isn’t consistent, but it is capable of making plays and they made enough to lift the Bears past the Cowboys.

Iowa State

A win on Saturday not only ensures the Cyclones bowl eligibility and their first five-game winning streak in league action ever (let that sink in a little bit), it also keeps the Cyclones on the fringes of the Big 12 Championship game race. Remember. They have the tiebreaker over West Virginia. Plus, Iowa State has the opportunity to face Texas the following week. If the Cyclones win their remaining games it would be Iowa State with a berth in the Big 12 Championship game in Arlington, Texas, in December. Purdy’s emergence has not only pointed the Cyclones toward a possible trip to Arlington but also solidified the future of the program beyond this season.

Prediction

Iowa State 31, Baylor 27. Expect it to be close but the Cyclones should win and stay in the Big 12 Championship game race. The Bears are 0-3 against ranked teams this season and  1-4 when you count teams receiving votes in any of the polls (that includes a loss to Duke and the win over OSU). Baylor is playing better, and other opportunities will be there to claim that sixth win for bowl eligibility.  But ISU’s only loss at home is against Oklahoma and Baylor is no Oklahoma.

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