By Adam Gibson | Sports Writer
Baylor football hits the road to Ames, Iowa, to take on No. 22 Iowa State at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.
The Bears are coming off games on both ends of the spectrum, with a 58-14 blowout loss to No. 9 West Virginia two weeks ago and then a thrilling 35-31 last-second victory over Oklahoma State last weekend.
With this Cyclones team being the fourth ranked team the Bears will have played this season, all of which have been on the road, head coach Matt Rhule said they may be a tough opponent, but the Bears have gained valuable experience facing good teams.
“We will quickly move on to Iowa State, a tremendous challenge being our fourth ranked team we will face on the road,” Rhule said. “Hopefully we can learn the lessons from Oklahoma, Texas and West Virginia and go out and play against a team I have the utmost respect for. Their coach, Matt Campbell, is a winner and it will be a real challenge.”
The Bears defense totaled four sacks last week after only recording one in the loss at West Virginia. Baylor gave up a combined 93 points over the past two weeks and sophomore defensive tackle James Lynch said it can be frustrating to allow so many points, but all that matters is the final outcome. Once the game is over, Lynch said, it’s time to move on to the next game and try to fix what didn’t work the week before.
“Obviously you never want to give up that many points,” Lynch said. “It’s frustrating as a defense when you can’t stop an offense like that but at the end of the day, whenever you get a win it can be ugly, but you got the win. We just move on from that. We got the win, put it in the column and move to next week.”
The Bears are going to face another tough offense, led by freshman quarterback Brock Purdy, who has led the Cyclones to four straight wins. Two of those were upsets over then-No. 25 Oklahoma State and then-No. 6 West Virginia. Going into Iowa State looking to upset the Cyclones, who have caught stride mid-way through the season, will be a tough task for the Bears. Rhule said there are so many different things for the defense to focus on that add an extra challenge to the game.
“Purdy has a sensational arm. He puts the ball right on the money,” Rhule said. “He is extremely athletic, and Iowa State has now input a quarterback run package, which always adds another element. Even on Saturday with [Oklahoma State senior quarterback Taylor Cornelius], he created some problems for us running the ball.”
The offense has not been the only factor leading to the success for Iowa State as the defense has been able to disrupt all the offenses it has faced. Last week, the Cyclones held the Jayhawks to only a field goal.
Rhule said the defense they will see this weekend is something the Bears have not seen too much this season. The way the Cyclones are able to confuse the offense on their reads is something Baylor has practiced for and will be an important part of the game to control to ensure success throughout the afternoon.
“Last year they played a lot of ‘Cover-2’ and made people run the ball and rally up and tackle,” Rhule said. “These guys just do a great job of disguising … They get off blocks and they’re able to survive inside in the run game by playing with less guys than most people would.”
Senior offensive lineman Blake Blackmar said Iowa State’s defense may be complicated, but it all comes down to the basics of doing your job.
“A lot of it is on just making sure you have the correct [identifications],” Blackmar said. “Knowing your job like the back of your hand. The game plan isn’t going to be over-the-top complicated to deal with this defense. We’re going to keep it simple. We’re going to attack them and the best team on Saturday is going to win.”