Baylor (3-3) at Iowa State (4-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 27, 7:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Jack Trice Stadium (55,000) -- Ames, Iowa. Television: FSN. Home Record: Baylor 2-1, ISU 2-2. Away Record: Baylor 1-2, ISU 2-1. Neutral Record: Baylor 0-0, ISU 0-0. Conference Record: Baylor 0-3, ISU 1-3. Series Record: Series it tied, 5-5.
GAME NOTES: The Baylor Bears and Iowa State Cyclones both face a must-win game as the two are set to square off in a Big 12 battle at Jack Trice Stadium.
Baylor, despite owning one of the nation's most prolific offenses, has lost three in a row after a 3-0 start. Last weekend, the Bears were on the wrong end of another shootout, this time falling at Texas, 56-50. This week's tilt wraps up a stretch that has seen Baylor play on the road four times in a span of five games.
Meanwhile, Iowa State has lost three of its last four outings. The lone victory in that span came at then 15th-ranked TCU on Oct. 6. However, the Cyclones have not been able to build off that victory, falling to Kansas State (27-21) and Oklahoma State (31-10) over the last two weeks.
The all-time series between these two schools is deadlocked at five wins apiece.
Baylor's offense has not missed a beat since Heisman-winning quarterback Robert Griffin III was selected with the second overall pick in April's NFL Draft. Entering the weekend, Baylor leads the nation in passing offense (390.7 ypg) and ranks third in both total offense (574.2 ypg) and scoring (48.0 ppg). Quarterback Nick Florence tops the nation in total offense (407.2 ypg), while he ranks second nationally with 371.0 passing ypg and is third in passing efficiency (172.8). Terrance Williams is the national leader with 168.8 receiving yards per game, and over the last three games he has hauled in 30 catches for 660 yards and five touchdowns.. Amazingly, the Bears have scored 47 or more points in all but one game this season. The quick-strike offense has notched 12 touchdown drives this season that lasted three plays or fewer.
While Baylor's offense is as dangerous as any in the country, the defense has been flat-out abysmal. The Bears currently rank dead-last out of 120 FBS teams in both total defense (553.2 ypg) and scoring defense (44.0 ppg). Their last three opponents have averaged an astonishing 54.3 points. Surprisingly, Baylor actually managed to win one of those games. Additionally, the defense has forced zero turnovers during the last three games, all losses. Linebackers Bryce Hager (11.7 tackles per game) and Ahmad Dixon (9.8) rank first and second in the conference, respectively, in tackles. Granted, the easier it is for an opponent to move the ball up and down the field, the easier it is for the defensive players to rack up tackles. Last week, Texas racked up 27 first downs and 525 yards of total offense against the Bears.
Iowa State's offense has proven far less dynamic than Baylor's. Over the last three weeks, the Cyclones have seen their scoring dip from 37 points, to 21 points, to 10. Those 10 points came against Oklahoma State last week, and all 10 points were scored in the first quarter. The Cyclones finished the game with 341 yards of total offense, or roughly half of OSU's offensive output. Iowa State struggled to keep the chains moving, converting only 4-of-17 third downs and losing the time of possession battle by about 10 minutes. Jared Barnett completed 19-of-39 passes for 206 yards, with one touchdown and one interception. He also accounted for 49 of the team's 101 rushing yards.
The Cyclones have made some strides on the defensive side of the ball, as they rank third in the conference and 27th nationally in scoring defense (19.6 ppg). However, they struggled to contain Oklahoma State last week, both through the air and on the ground. Cowboys quarterback J.W. Walsh completed 32-of-47 passes for 415 yards and a touchdown, while running back Joseph Randle finished with 151 rushing yards and two TDs. ISU needs a better effort this week from linebacker A.J. Klein, the reigning Big 12 co-defensive player of the year, who posted only four tackles against the Cowboys. Klein is second on the team with 54 tackles on the season, and he has returned four interceptions for touchdowns in his career, tying an NCAA record for a linebacker. Fellow linebacker Jake Knott paces the squad with 68 stops on the year.
Under head coach Paul Rhoads, Iowa State is 3-22 when allowing 24 or more points. It will take a borderline miracle to hold Baylor to that total in this matchup, meaning the Cyclones are going to need to put a lot of points on the board to have a chance.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Baylor 45, Iowa State 35
10/24 10:32:44 ET