Good Cop, Bad Cop: Baylor

Iowa State’s Hakeem Butler at the 2018 Homecoming football game against Texas Tech on Oct. 27. The Cyclones won 40-31.

Jack Shover

Iowa State is set to face Big 12 opponent Baylor at 2 p.m. on Saturday. Prior to the game, the Iowa State Daily’s reporters Jack Shover and Spencer Suckow will give their takes of the best and worst case scenarios for Iowa State this weekend.

Good Cop: Jack Shover

No matter what Baylor has on the scouting report there is one particular factor this weekend of which the Bears cannot prepare for: the weather.

At noon, the weather in Ames is forecasted to be around 26 degrees Fahrenheit. At the same time in Waco, Texas, the temperature is supposed to be around 47 degrees.

Prior to the game, Iowa State would have had all week to practice in the cold and wind.

With the weather below freezing, expect Baylor’s passing attack to suffer. In the past when Big 12 quarterbacks have come into Ames in November, their play has suffered.

Look no further than 2016 when Texas Tech, then lead by Patrick Mahomes at quarterback, were dominated by an Iowa State squad who finished the season with three wins 66-10.

Mahomes finished the game 18 for 36 for 219 yards a touchdown and two picks.

In 2016, Mahomes averaged 421 passing yards a game and four passing touchdowns.

When Baylor is unable to move the ball through the air because of the cold and Iowa State’s pass coverage, Iowa State will be able to key on the run and force three-and-outs all game with a stout run defense.

Offensively, Iowa State will be able to dictate the tempo of the game and keep Baylor off of the field by controlling the ball.

Iowa State has so many weapons on the offense and such a varied attack Baylor won’t have a chance to stop the Cyclones.

Ames is not a place you want to visit in November.

Final Score:

Iowa State – 27

Baylor – 10

Bad Cop: Spencer Suckow

While it’s hard to complain about four straight wins, Iowa State certainly hasn’t been invincible in recent weeks.

In particular, special teams have been a lingering concern for the Cyclones. Against Kansas, kicker Connor Assalley missed a field goal. The week before that against Texas Tech, Assalley missed another field goal and the Red Raiders blocked a punt. Two weeks prior to that against West Virginia, Iowa State had a blocked field goal returned for a touchdown.

On top of that, Iowa State’s punt return game has been suspect, as returner Tarique Milton has made several questionable decisions on his punt returns. Ultimately, one of these blunders turned into a strip sack fumble against Texas Tech, a play in which the Red Raiders scored.

Though Baylor had a terrible 1-11 record last season, the Bears are much improved in 2018. The Bears started to show signs of competitiveness toward the end of last season, but this year, Bears are pulling out these close games against other Big 12 opponents.

If Iowa State has another game where the special teams struggle, Baylor could easily steal a game from the Cyclones at home. In fact, that’s exactly what I think will happen. Iowa State has shown really no signs of progress in the game’s third phase, and the team is due to have it come back to bite them.

Additionally, a big matchup next week against Texas is looming for the Cyclones. I know Matt Campbell has preached the “one game at a time” approach, but let’s be real: teams look ahead all the time. It’s the reality of just about every sport, and college kids are especially vulnerable to it.

Iowa State players know full well that a win this week and a win against Texas would put them in excellent position to make the Big 12 championship game. The problem is, Texas is the kind of team that draws attention. Blue-blood program, ranked team, largest stadium in the Big 12. It’s hard not to think ahead to that type of environment.

Ultimately, I think all of those factors will lead to a Cyclone loss this Saturday, which will crush any hope of making the Big 12 championship game.

Final Score:

Baylor – 23

Iowa State – 20