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The Iowa State Cyclones have won four straight games heading into a home date with the Baylor Bears at Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Iowa State is coming off consecutive victories over Oklahoma State, West Virginia, Texas Tech, and Kansas. The Bears had lost two in a row before beating Oklahoma State this past weekend.
You gotta Lovett
Baylor halted its two-game skid with a 35-31 win over Oklahoma State last week. Charlie Brewer, who was briefly in the concussion protocol prior to facing the Cowboys, threw a six-yard touchdown pass to Denzel Mims with seven seconds remaining to provide for the winning margin. Brewer completed four of eight attempts for 56 yards and two scores after replacing starter Jalan McClendon (10-of-17, 102 yards, one interception, one rushing touchdown).
But the biggest story of the game for Baylor was running back John Lovett, who has been dealing with nagging injuries all season long. Lovett rushed just six times but he turned those carries into 104 yards and one touchdown. It was his best performance since the opener against Abilene Christian, when he rushed for 115 yards and three scores.
“He’s a single-digit because he’s tough,” head coach Matt Rhule said of Lovett. “He’ll do whatever he’s asked. He’ll play defense for us if we ask him, he’ll play special teams. I think the biggest thing in that game was he made the first guy miss. If you get six yards, you’re a good back. If you get eight yards, you’re a great back. The guys that take it for 80 are the ones that are elite. I thought on Saturday he made the first guy miss and that to me was a game-changer for us.”
Iowa State switched to freshman quarterback Brock Purdy following a 1-3 start to the season. The Cyclones are undefeated (4-0) since the change, an impressive stretch that includes wins over Oklahoma State, West Virginia, and Texas Tech. Purdy has 12 touchdowns compared to only two interceptions during this hot streak. He reminds Rhule of his own freshman QB last season at Baylor.
“He’s got a sensational arm,” Rhule said of Purdy. “We watched [the Cyclones] vs. Oklahoma State, a ton of contested catches and he put the ball right on the money. He’s also extremely athletic. The moment doesn’t seem too big for him. He’s out there, he reminds me of Charlie (Brewer) last year. He just goes out and plays.”
The comparison is a fair one, as Brewer took over as the Bears’ starter during the 2017 campaign and through eight games completed 68 percent of his passes for 1,562 yards and 11 touchdowns. That was good enough to earn him the Big 12 Co-offensive Freshman of the Year honors. Purdy has completed 66 percent of his passes for 1,085 yards and 12 touchdowns while also rushing for 197 yards and a score.
The Iowa State Cyclones are:
- 24-6-1 ATS in their last 31 overall
- 16-5 ATS in their last 21 home games
- 21-5-1 ATS in their last 27 games against the Big 12
The Baylor Bears are:
- 1-4-1 ATS in their last six games following a win
- 8-19-1 ATS in their last 28 games on grass
- 4-11 ATS in their last 15 November games
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Lovett’s recent showing is reason to be encouraged for the Bears, but they will have to give him more than six carries if they want to keep Iowa State’s offense off the field. Meanwhile, ISU’s defense is No. 1 in the Big 12 both overall and in scoring. The Cyclones are 3-0-1 ATS in the last four meetings between the two teams and 3-0-1 ATS in their last four at home against Baylor. It is also worth noting that the home team is 11-3-1 ATS in the last 15 head-to-head matchups.
Prediction: Iowa State Cyclones
Full-Game Total Pick
Purdy is on fire for the Cyclones and Baylor’s defense is second-to-last in the conference in total defense. In addition to being dead last against the run, the Bears are just seventh in the Big 12 in terms of defending the pass. Purdy’s fine form has every reason to continue. The over is 7-3 in the Bears’ last 10 overall, 4-1 in their last five on the road, and 6-2 in their last eight on grass. It is also 5-2-1 in the Cyclones’ last eight following a win by more than 20 points. Look for this one to go over the total.