Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#313 Baylor vs.
#314 Iowa State
Saturday, September 24, 2022 at 12:00pm EDT
Written by Eric P.

The Iowa State Cyclones play host to the Baylor Bears on Saturday afternoon from Jack Trice Stadium in the Big 12 opener for both sides. As the reigning conference champs, the Bears are looking to pick up where they left off last season, while the Cyclones bring their own unblemished 2022 record into things. Last year, Baylor came away with a two-point win in one of the best games of the Big 12 season, while the Bears have won six of the last ten meetings overall. Going on the road in conference play is never easy though, while the Cyclones will want to avenge last season's defeat.

Bears Looking To Avoid .500 Start

Baylor hits the road for their conference opener on Saturday and after taking down the Cyclones last year at home, they'll be looking to replicate that success this go-around. The Bears already have one loss on the season, dropping an overtime thriller on the road to BYU just a few weeks ago. Wins against Texas State and Albany make up the rest of their schedule so far this season and considering the low profile of both of those teams, questions still remain. Last season saw the Bears take advantage of close matchups but the chances of that being the case seem difficult to have happen again. The road proved to be a challenge just a few weeks ago, as it could cause challenges yet again this week.

When it comes to injuries, the Bears continue to navigate some key ones on the offensive side of things. A trio of talented players is listed as questionable for the weekend, all of which will want their status to be kept track of before kickoff. Ben Sims (head) and Monaray Baldwin (head) are key receivers that the Bears will want in the lineup, while Taye McWilliams (undisclosed) could cause some issues when it comes to the depth at running back.

On the offensive end, everything starts with the ground game for this group. Richard Reese leads the way at 7.0 yards per carrying and five touchdowns, while the depth at the position gives this team the ability to wear down opponents. They rank 15th nationally in rushing yards per game and 16th in points per game, though Iowa State's defense is likely to be more difficult to navigate on the ground than two of their three opponents. Blake Shapen turned quite a few heads last year and this could be the game where the ball is in his hands quite a bit and he's forced to make plays. If he can take care of the ball, Baylor could find crucial balance in this one.

Defensively, the Bears have been stout yet again. On the road, they only allowed 26 points in overtime to BYU, though last year saw them struggle to slow down the Cyclones in their meeting. Much like the case on the offensive end, controlling the ground will be key in this one. What this game really hinges on is if Baylor can force turnovers and gain some extra possessions. Matt Jones (17 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 1 PD) is the leader on the defensive side and if his name gets called upon quite a bit, it'll be great news for the Bears.

Cyclones Off To Fast Start

Iowa State had high hopes for winning the Big 12 last season and while they failed to meet expectations, the lack of fanfare surrounding the program this season has seemed to help. The Cyclones are off to a 3-0 start and while their schedule hasn't been challenging either, a rivalry win on the road against Iowa certainly turned some heads. Now that they welcome Baylor to town, stock in the program is starting to rise again, in what is sure to be a sell-out matchup. The Cyclones know that starting off the Big 12 season with a win will be crucial towards their season-long goals, and after taking Baylor to the wire last season, this group will have the confidence brewing to grab the win on Saturday.

From an injury perspective, the Cyclones have three injuries that they'll be monitoring heading into the weekend, spanning both sides of the ball. Jake Remsburg (knee) could be missed on the offensive line, while Cartevious Norton (leg) is questionable as well, though is far down on the depth chart at running back. On the defensive side, Beau Freyler (upper body) has been a mainstay in the secondary and could prove crucial if he can find himself active.

On the offensive side of things, the Cyclones have lost quite a bit of the firepower that helped them become so dangerous over the last handful of years. They only rank 74th nationally in scoring and if they can't improve on being able to move the ball on the ground, it could be a challenge to control the clock, and therefore, the game. Hunter Dekkers has impressed but has lacked the big play ability so far, while Jirehl Brock (5.6 yards per carry), should see plenty of the ball. After only scoring ten points against Iowa, questions remain about how this offense will continue to perform against Power 5 opponents.

Defensively, this group has been stout as they come this season, which could be problematic for Baylor. The Cyclones only allowed a single touchdown to Iowa, though with how their struggles have been documented, it remains unclear how strong this group really is. They do rank fifth against the run, which will be key, and their ability to force turnovers, where they rank in the top 25 nationally, could be enough to help them grab the win in what is expected to be a close matchup.

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Full-Game Side Bet

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Baylor has already gone on the road this season and even with the loss, showed their ability to not be fazed one bit by the atmosphere. Now they take on an Iowa State team that they beat last year and in one game against a struggling Iowa team, they only came away with a three-point win and ten points. The Bears will control the clock and control the game on the ground, while Iowa State doesn't have the offensive depth to match. With a major question mark in the secondary for the Cyclones as well, this will be the game where the Bears start to move the ball through the air as well. Additionally, according to covers.com, the Cyclones are 1-5 ATS in their last six home games against a team with a winning road record and 1-4 ATS in their last five games against a team with a winning record.

Prediction: Baylor (+2.5)

Full-Game Total Pick

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This will be one of the lowest-scoring games of the Big 12 season and considering the desire for both teams to establish themselves on the ground, a running clock will lead to limiting possessions and scores in this one. Baylor's defense has shown to be elite this season, while Iowa State hasn't allowed more than ten points in any of their three games, including one of those being against a Power 5 opponent. Additionally, according to covers.com, for Baylor, the under is 4-0 in their last four games following an ATS win, is 4-0 in their last four conference games, and is 4-0 in their last four road games. For the Cyclones, the under is 6-0 in their last six home games against a team with a winning road record.

Prediction: Under 45.5
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Written By Eric Ploch , "Eric P."

Eric grew up surrounded by sports, whether it was spending the weekend catching games in person or on tv, or heading out to the fields to play whatever sport was in season. What started as a hobby, soon became a passion, as he became the sports editor of his high school newspaper, then wrote for his university newspaper during his undergrad years. After obtaining a degree in Sports Operations and Promotions, and spending 8 years deeply immersed in the sports world, Eric decided to take his love for analytics and predictions, and his experience, to online sports fans everywhere. James is now an integral part of our team here at StatSalt and has also been a very successful sports bettor over the years. Be sure and follow him daily.