Royston: Baylor loss sheds light on Iowa State’s flaws


Jacob Rice

Xavier Hutchinson celebrates long catch in 31-24 loss to Baylor on Sept. 24.

Iowa State opened up its Big 12 season against Baylor on Saturday, and the outcome was less than ideal for the Cyclones.

All things considered, starting the season 3-1 is great for the team, especially with how young the team is. Hunter Dekkers and Jirehl Brock look to be great replacements for Brock Purdy and Breece Hall, and the defense is as solid as ever.

The only issue I saw with the loss to Baylor is how close Iowa State was to a win. Iowa State struggled to get momentum through the whole game but still battled to the end.

With a tough slate ahead, the Cyclones need to close out games and find a way to turn the one-score contests in their favor. The Big 12 is no joke this year, so every win matters.

Baylor exposes weaknesses

I’m not going to talk much about the refs’ impact on Iowa State’s momentum against Baylor. Yes, there were some iffy calls, but at the end of the day, that’s football; it happens.

Campbell made it clear in the post-game press conference that having a short-term memory will be key in pulling out wins in close matchups. You can make all the excuses for the loss, but when it comes down to it, there were plenty of chances for the Cyclones to get back into the game.

Sure, the penalties had an impact on Iowa State stopping Baylor’s offense, but Iowa State’s defense played sloppy at the same time. There were many cases of soft coverage and missed tackles, resulting in Baylor taking large chunks out of the field and moving the ball easily.

Baylor is by far the most fast-paced offense the Cyclones have faced, and there were some costly miscues. Without the penalty yards, Baylor still doubled Iowa State’s yards on the ground and threw for three touchdowns with no turnovers. They played cleaner than Iowa State the entire day.

The two interceptions in the second half can’t be overlooked. Brock’s fumble on the one-yard line can’t be overlooked.

If Iowa State wants to compete with the elite teams in the Big 12, it must clean up the mistakes. Baylor showed the Cyclones what they need to work on going forward.

There were cracks in the team going into the Baylor game, which is a large reason it was tough to gain momentum. Campbell wasn’t entirely happy with the 3-0 start because he saw the issues that could pose a threat later down the road.

When it comes down to it, the Cyclones could have beat the Bears, but they didn’t. Now we all just need to move on. There’s a lot of football left to play and many great things to look forward to with this Iowa State team.

Offensive weapons ready to shine

Now that I’m done bashing all the bad things the Cyclones showed against Baylor, let’s look at the positives.

The Bears are looking to be one of the frontrunners for another Big 12 title. Iowa State played Baylor close, which shows the Cyclones can compete with the rest of the pack.

As Iowa State gets deep into Big 12 play, a few areas could make or break some games.

The first two weeks made it clear that Hutchinson is Dekkers’ safety net, which isn’t a bad thing. However, Dekkers will need to get more creative when the defenses get better.

The last two games were promising for Dekkers’ development. Sean Shaw saw some action in the win over Ohio, and Dimitri Stanley caught his first Cyclone touchdown against Baylor.

Not only that, Jaylin Noel almost matched Hutchinson in receptions and ended the day with 120 receiving yards. Getting more receivers involved in the passing game will open up the offense and give opposing defenses problems.

The running back room also showed its talent in the first four weeks. Brock looks great so far, making plays straight out of a video game.

Brock puts defenders on skates every week and has the explosiveness needed of an elite running back. The other running backs also showed they could change the pace of the run game to add more versatility to the offense.

Although Deon Silas was quiet against Baylor, he was electric against Ohio. Cartevious Norton is also back from an injury and should add great depth to the room. Eli Sanders showed sparks of talent in his limited snaps as well.

There’s a lot to look forward to on the offense, and once everyone gains more experience, it could be tough to stop.

Competition in the Big 12

When looking at the Big 12 Conference as a whole, there really aren’t any easy wins.

Iowa State showed they could compete with the big dogs by nearly toppling Baylor. The Cyclones need to keep battling through the rest of the Big 12 games ahead.

The next game should be a great test for where the Cyclones are. 

If you asked me before the season started if I thought Kansas could give Iowa State a run for its money, I would have told you there’s no chance. Now I don’t know what to think.

Kansas looks like a legit football team for the first time in forever, starting the season with four straight wins. The wins over Houston and Duke made it clear that the Jayhawks aren’t messing around.

Jalon Daniels also looks to be a threat in the Big 12 Conference. You can’t argue with his nation-leading 98.0 quarterback rating.

Looking past the Kansas game, Iowa State has to take down other impressive teams. Kansas State seems to be living up to the hype, cracking the AP Top-25 Poll after taking down a top-10 ranked Oklahoma team.

Oklahoma may have dropped out of the top 10 following the loss, but they look as competitive as ever. 

Oklahoma State could be the best team in the Big 12, staying undefeated through three games. TCU is also still perfect on the year, although the first real test comes on Saturday against the Sooners.

Jaylin Noel prepares for next snap against Baylor on Sept. 24. (Jacob Rice)

Texas Tech beat Texas in an overtime thriller in Lubbock, Texas. Iowa State might also face a Quinn Ewers-led Texas team. The Longhorns kept up with No. 2 Alabama without Ewers, so having their star quarterback on the field could give them a much-needed offensive boost.

With all that in mind, the Cyclones can’t take any game for granted. Every week going forward could be a test for the Cyclones, so they need to bring their A-game.

The Baylor game is in the past, so there’s no point dwelling on it. With eight games to play, it will be interesting to see how the Cyclones adapt to the loss and find ways to take down the tough competition ahead.