By Tyler Alley
Despite some early struggles, No. 20 Baylor defeated conference rival Iowa State 49-26 in a big rebound from the loss to Kansas State last week.
“The first few games we wanted to win,” head coach Art Briles said. “This game tonight, we had to win. That’s a tough, tough situation for your football team to be in for your coaching staff [and] for your university. To be able to do that says a lot about your football team.”
Senior running back Terrance Ganaway and junior running back Jarred Salubi each fumbled in Iowa State territory to end potential scoring drives for the Bears in the first quarter. Ganaway would more than make up for the fumble with a career-high 200 rushing yards and three touchdowns on the day, averaging 8.7 yards per carry.
“Great players bounce back,” Ganaway said. “It did help motivate me to keep playing hard and keep playing through the little arm tackles. It was a bad thing that turned good. The O-line played a really good game. Sometimes it was 20 yards down the field before I got touched so when there are holes like that [I] try to speed through them because I know they are not open for long.”
The Bears received a big spark in the third quarter when junior defensive end Gary Mason Jr. stripped the ball from Iowa State junior quarterback Steele Jantz at Baylor’s 8-yard line. Sophomore defensive end Tevin Elliott picked the ball up and ran it 86 yards for the touchdown.
“I haven’t ran like that since high school when I played a little receiver,” Elliott said. “I couldn’t have made the play if it weren’t for Gary Mason. He made them fumble and all I saw was the ball and I just knew I had to get to the end zone.”
Briles said Elliott’s TD was the play of the game, as it gave Baylor a 21-point lead in the third quarter.
Iowa State started strong with a 43-yard flea flicker pass from junior quarterback Steele Jantz to senior receiver Darius Reynolds on their first offensive play of the game. The Cyclones would score on a 10-yard pass from Jantz to Reynolds.
Baylor could not respond until the second quarter, but it finally did with a 10-play, 87-yard drive capped off by junior quarterback Robert Griffin III running in the 1-yard touchdown.
Iowa State scored on its next drive to re-take the lead before Baylor tied things up again with a 15-yard pass from Griffin to senior receiver Kendall Wright.
The touchdown was Wright’s 8th of the season, which ties him for the second-most receiving touchdowns for a single season in Baylor history. He is also the first Baylor receiver to have 3,000 yards in a career.
“It means a lot,” Wright said about the records. “I’ve worked hard for it but I couldn’t have done it without all my teammates. They help me.”
Baylor took a 21-14 lead going into the half and never looked back. Ganaway would score all three of his touchdowns in the second half. Combining those scores with Elliott’s play led to Baylor controlling the second half and ultimately the game.
Ganaway’s two rushing touchdowns in the fourth quarter were the first touchdowns the Bears have scored in the fourth quarter all season long.
Griffin finished the game completing 22 of 30 passes for 212 passing yards and one touchdown, as well as 107 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown. Griffin said he was happy to see his team able to win convincingly even though his stats, though not bad, were not as high as usual.
“It was great,” Griffin said. “I was talking to Ganaway on the sideline. I told him I could care less about stats and numbers because you can throw for 300 and five touchdowns and lose a football game, like we did against K-State. So for me it’s fun to win. I enjoy winning.”
Wright finished the game with eight catches for 69 yards and one touchdown.
Baylor scored at least 35 points for the fifth straight game, a first in Baylor school history. The Bears are also the highest-ranked Texas team, ahead of No. 21 Texas A&M and No. 22 Texas, for the first time since 1991.