By Cody Soto
No. 7 Baylor football looks to keep its perfect season alive as it travels to Ames, Iowa in its first Big 12 conference game in 2014 to face Iowa State tomorrow. This game will be a big test for Baylor after outscoring its first three opponents 178-27 in non-conference play.
“We are extremely excited to start playing in conference,” senior offensive tackle Spencer Drango said. “I think it’s another mindset when we get into Big 12 play. This is what determines the Big 12 championship.”
Baylor (3-0) and Iowa State (1-2) both had a bye week and were able to rest after each team traveled to its first road games on Sept. 13.
The Bears took a convincing 63-21 win over Buffalo in New York on Sept. 13. Senior quarterback Bryce Petty was 23-for-34 on pass completions and threw for four touchdowns in his first game back from a spinal injury he suffered during the season opener against SMU.
“As good as he was that game, I thought it was the best half that I’ve seen him play, without question,” head coach Art Briles said.
Baylor’s wide receivers led the offense with 480 receiving yards in Buffalo and currently rank third in the FBS rankings. Petty commended the wide receivers on their team-oriented playing and unselfishness on the field.
“It makes the offensive side of the game fun because you have guys that are willing to share. They do a great job in supporting each other,” Petty said. “I get to pick my poison because we have guys that can go get a ball and break it at any given time. The cards are in our hands, even more so than before because KD Cannon and Davion Hall have done a great job and will continue to do so.”
The Bears dominated the Cyclones in Waco last year, taking the game 71-7 and posting at least 14 points every quarter during their annual homecoming game. The Baylor defense suffocated the Cyclones and limited them to an astounding nine first downs in the game.
Iowa State’s only win so far this season is a 20-17 thriller over in-state rival Iowa on Sept. 13. In the game, quarterback Sam B. Richardson passed for 255 yards and two touchdowns in the clutch victory for the Cyclones.
Kicker Cole Netten nailed a 42-yard field goal to put the game away with two seconds left in the game.
However, Iowa State dropped its season opener to North Dakota State and a 32-28 decision to No. 25 Kansas State in its first Big 12 game earlier this season.
Briles said every conference opponent is going to be a challenge for the team, first starting with Iowa State.
“We have 10 quality Big 12 football teams, and they’re certainly one of them,” Briles said. “They’re an extremely well coached team. As they are with their record right now, they could very easily be 3-0. So we have a tremendous amount of respect for their staff, [Iowa State coach Paul] Rhoads and his staff, and their football program.”
Briles and the Bears head into Saturday’s game with a 6-6 all-time series record against the Cyclones and trail the series 4-2 in Ames.
“They’re always a really good football team that plays extremely hard and that really plays with a lot of confidence and a lot of purpose,” Briles said.
With one road game behind them, Baylor looks to continue being America’s top offense, with an average of 59.3 points per game.
“Going there with the mindset that we are going to have to play with distractions and learning how to maintain and cope with the distractions are the biggest things for us,” offensive tackle Jason Osei said. “We have to focus small and everything else is going to play out from there.”
Baylor’s defense looks to continue its dominant ways in Ames. So far this season, the Bears are only allowing an average of 9.0 points per game.
“We have something out there. I certainly don’t think we’ve peaked, which is encouraging on both sides of the ball,” Briles said. “We’re going to get better from what we were and what we are. But we’ve got to do our job on the field, which is starting this Saturday in Ames.”
Baylor will look to defend its first Big 12 title in school history this weekend and bring home its first win in Ames since 2005. A win will not only continue the Bears’ chances of another championship, but also a chance at a college playoff berth.
“At the end of the day, if you win, you’ve got a chance to get in. I don’t think there is such thing as a good loss or a bad win,” Briles said. “All that is way down the road and will be decided by somebody besides us. But we’ve got to do our job on the field, which is starting this Saturday in Ames.”
No. 7 Baylor will play Iowa State in Ames at 7:20 p.m. at Jack Trice Stadium. The game will be nationally broadcast on FOX.