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Breaking down Saturday’s Big 12 football game between No. 14 Iowa State (2-1) and Baylor (3-0) in Waco, Texas (2:30 p.m., Fox).
Iowa State offense
Iowa State’s offense found its way last week against UNLV.
But that was against one of the worst defenses the Cyclones are going to play this season. It’ll be interesting to see what Iowa State can do against a defensive-minded team like Baylor.
Against Iowa and Northern Iowa, two other teams that are no strangers to playing good defense, the Cyclones averaged a respectable 293.5 yards, but just 16.5 points.
The Cyclones will need to continue what they did against UNLV and turn yards into points. They can’t have drives stall out.
Gone are the days of the Big 12 being a pass-happy league that plays no defense.
OK, maybe not gone, but times, they are a changin’. Baylor is a run-first team with two running backs averaging more than 100 yards per game in Trestan Ebner and Abram Smith.
That run game has allowed Baylor quarterback Gerry Bohanon to manage the game and complete 70 percent of his passes.
"I think it's a product of running the football that's allowed them to have success in the passing game,” Iowa State defensive coordinator Jon Heacock said. “They're staying ahead of the sticks. They're throwing it when they want to. That allows for the play-action pass, the first-down-and-10 pass, the second-down pass. Those are the things that allow them to be good. And then, all the passes look like runs and so everybody's stuck at the line of scrimmage.
“They're throwing the ball when you don't expect them to because they're running it so well. They've improved. I think they're a talented group that's fitting right into what they're doing with a run game."
Iowa State defense
What’s left to say about the Iowa State defense? It’s only Week 4, but the Cyclones have proved to be among the best in the nation.
Iowa State ranks first in the country in total defense, allowing just 192 yards per game, first in yards per play, allowing just 3.4 yards, and third in yards per rush (1.5).
No. 5-ranked Iowa, easily the best team Iowa State has played this season, gained just 173 yards in total offense.
Baylor was one of the early adopters to Heacock’s defense when Matt Rhule was the coach. Second-year coach Dave Aranda hasn’t changed it much since he took over and it’s paid dividends.
Baylor has allowed just 11.6 points and 227 yards per game this season.
“They fly around the field,” Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy said. “They have the most speed of any defense we’ve played. They’re always flying to the ball and it’s kind of like our defense. Our guys are well coached and they run around the field, these guys do the same thing.”
Baylor’s defense is undoubtedly led by safety Jalen Pietre, who leads the defense in almost every statistical category.
“I think they have very good talent, and they trust their talent,” Iowa State offensive coordinator Tom Manning said of Baylor’s secondary. “They have the ability to play a lot of different techniques and coverages, and they do a really good job with it.”
Iowa State-Baylor prediction
Baylor’s production through the first three games jumps off the page, but it’s important to remember that it played Texas State, Texas Southern and Kansas. The Bears haven’t exactly been tested and they only beat Texas State by nine.
Iowa State 27, Baylor 20