In what proved to be a difficult game, Baylor held off an upset-minded Iowa State squad on homecoming weekend, 45-27. The Bears were noticeably slower on both sides of the ball, yet managed to find a way to win with timely turnovers and stops.
Baylor was not nearly as explosive as usual on the offensive side of the ball. Perhaps a testament to the poor weather conditions, the Bears failed to gain 500 yards for the first time all season. Baylor was also held scoreless in the third quarter, only the third such quarter all season for Baylor.
“It’s kinda hard to play when the ball is water logged and you have the throw the ball like a shot put. Its hard to get your receivers the ball and its hard for the receivers to catch the ball,” said junior receiver Corey Coleman of the rainy conditions.
The rain did not stop the Bears from coming out of the gates on fire however, as Baylor opened the game on a 35-0 run, while only allowing the Cyclones to gain 46 yards during that span. However, Iowa State would reel off 14 straight points before halftime, gashing the Bears on the ground.
“I thought our guys did great at maintaining and sustaining, not really panicking, just taking care of business. It’s hard to stay at the level we’ve been at. All in all, its proabably a good thing to get a good, tough win,” said head coach Art Briles on the victory.
Junior quarterback Seth Russell performed well in both aspects of the offense, throwing for 197 yards and rushing for 64 more along with a score. Russell would end the day completing 16 of 37 yards and 2 touchdowns with an interception.
Midway through the fourth, Russell was held out of the game, despite the Bears only holding a 15 point lead. Russell would not return as he was ruled out with a neck strain.
“It’s hard to see tough guys hurt. That’s the main concern right now is for him, first from an emotional standpoint and a physical one next,” said Briles.
Freshman quarterback Jarrett Stidham would enter for Russell, completing his lone attempt for a touchdown to Corey Coleman for a touchdown.
On the ground, Shock Linwood was held to just 41 first quarter rushing yards, as the Iowa State defense was loading the box to halt the Baylor run game. Linwood would explode the rest of the contest, eventually rushing for 171 yards and a score. Linwood’s performance this season has been tremendous, as he has already gained 974 yards this season.
Corey Coleman also continued his record setting season, surpassing Kendall Wright again in the Baylor record books. This time, Coleman became Baylor’s all time leader in career receiving touchdowns with 31.
“It’s a blessing to be in that category with Kendall,” Coleman said of the record. Coleman would finish the day with 6 catches for 85 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Coleman now has 47 catches 962 yards and 18 touchdowns on the season.
Defensively, the Bears were a tale of two halves. In the first half, Baylor was absolutely fantastic. The Bears held the Cyclones to just 135 yards of total offense and just 12 through the air. The Bears also forced three fumbles, managing to recover only one, and also intercepted two Cyclone passes.
However, the Bears defense wavered in the last 40 minutes. While Baylor only allowed 46 yards and zero points in the first 20 minutes of play, the Bears would give up 342 yards and 27 points the rest of the game, failing to put away the Cyclones.
“Of course we are happy with the win, that’s the main focus. We always look to see where we can get better, especially finishing the game. We are not happy with ourselves as a defense right now but that’s what practice is for. We can watch film and correct those mistakes,” said nickelback Travon Blanchard
Even with all of the yards allowed by the Bears in the second half, the secondary perhaps played their best football of the year. Cornerbacks Ryan Reid and Xavien Howard each picked off a pass and the longest completion was just 29 yards for Iowa State.
“In practice I’m busting my butt hard to be a better player than last year. I have a better feel for the game. I’m in better position and I’ve made my technique better over time,” said Ryan Reid. For Reid, the interception was his second career pick, both coming this season.
The Bears also forced five fumbles, recovering two. The four overall turnovers tie the most the Bears have forced this season.
“Defense played good on a rainy day. With weather like this, you have to get back to your technique. We played good, we got turnovers when we needed them. We still haven’t played a complete game. It’s scary,” said Blanchard.
The Bears will now face a daunting schedule, with three games against top 20 opponents remaining. For the Bears, health is the main concern. With Seth Russell’s recent injury as well as junior defensive tackle Andrew Billing’s lingering ankle injury, the Bears need all the help they can get down the stretch.
“Billings should be good to go and [the bye week] will be good to get our players rest before we get into this final stretch. We take it one game at a time. We have to get better and continue to work on our craft,” said Blanchard.