Baylor will have to pull off an upset if it wants to remain unbeaten. No. 14 Iowa State, which is coming off a blowout win over UNLV, pays a visit on Saturday afternoon. The Bears are unbeaten through their first three games of the season, but they have not faced a tough opponent yet.
Hawkeyes must remain focusedNo. 14 Iowa State could probably still accomplish its preseason goal of reaching the College Football Playoff, but it cannot afford to slip up the rest of the way. The Cyclones opened the year by barely squeaking past Northern Iowa in a 16-10 final. Many figured that they were looking ahead to their game against No. 10 Iowa the following week. Maybe they were, but they came out slow in that contest and ended up losing in a 27-17 final. Iowa State was able to hit the reset button last week, blowing out UNLV in a 48-3 decision. The Cyclones held a 24-0 lead at halftime and never looked back.
Milestone 2.— Cyclone Football (@CycloneFB) September 23, 2021
Their offense did not have more than 339 yards in either of their first two games, but they tallied 493 yards last week. Quarterback Brock Purdy threw three interceptions in the opening two weeks, but he responded with three touchdowns and no picks against UNLV. Running back Breece Hall also got things going, rushing for 100 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries. Purdy and Hall were both considered Heisman Trophy contenders heading into the season. Hall has now scored at least one rushing touchdown in 15 straight games, tying the Big 12 record. Iowa State has won three of its last four games against Baylor.
Bears trying to return to relevanceIt is way too early to say that Baylor is back to being a contender in the Big 12, but a win on Saturday would certainly make that discussion relevant. The Bears are off to a 3-0 start this year, opening the season with a 29-20 win at Texas State. They have been dominant in their two games since then, beating Texas Southern 66-7 and Kansas 45-7. Baylor tallied 307 rushing yards in the blowout at Kansas to open the conference schedule. It marked the program’s twelfth-straight win over the Jayhawks. The Bears had 576 yards of total offense. They were able to play backups down the stretch.
Quarterback Gerry Bohanon has completed 72.9% of his pass attempts for 664 yards and five touchdowns, avoiding any interceptions through the first three games. Running backs Abram Smith and Trestan Ebner have been dominating opposing defenses. Smith is averaging 7.8 yards on 47 carries, while Ebner has averaged 7.5 yards on 42 attempts. Wide receiver R.J. Sneed has been Bohanon’s top target, catching 14 passes for 260 yards and a touchdown. Tyquan Thornton has added 13 receptions for 180 yards and two scores. Baylor’s offensive line has not only opened holes for the running backs, but it has not allowed a sack either. Iowa State has a strong defense, though, so this will be a much different task.
Iowa State is:
- 9-3-2 ATS in its last 14 games after allowing less than 170 yards passing in its previous game
- 17-7 ATS in its last 24 games following a straight-up loss
- 7-3-1 ATS in its last 11 games as a road favorite
- 5-11-1 ATS in its last 17 games after scoring more than 40 points in its previous game
- 3-7-1 ATS in its last 11 games following a straight-up win of more than 20 points
- 2-5-1 ATS in its last eight conference games
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
While Baylor has looked good to open the season, I do not have any proof that this is going to be a different team than in years past. The Bears have yet to face a quality opponent, which will make it that much more difficult when they host Iowa State. I picked the Cyclones to make the Big 12 title game before the season and I am not ready to relinquish that pick. Their offense finally gained some confidence last week, so I could see them coming out hot on Saturday. Iowa State is better on both sides of the ball and it has more experience. I expect the Cyclones to take the lead early in the game and never look back.
Full-Game Total Pick
Baylor has established its identity on the ground this season. The Bears are going to stick with their guns on Saturday afternoon, but Iowa State defense is going to be tough to get through. The Cyclones have gone under the total in their last six games on grass and they have gone under at a remarkable 21-4-1 clip in their last 26 games following an ATS win. They are also going to run the ball at a high rate on Saturday afternoon. Baylor will get enough stops to keep this game under the total. The number of runs will help bleed the clock, so I like the under in this one.