By Michael Haag | Sports Editor, Claire-Marie Scott | LTVN Sports Reporter
Baylor football’s hopes to snap its six-game home losing streak to FBS foes washed away in the rain and in the 400 yards piled up by Iowa State.
The Cyclones spoiled the Bears’ homecoming with a 30-18 victory Saturday evening at McLane Stadium.
LTVN’s Claire-Marie Scott stuck it out in the rain to get you up close with the team.
ISU scored on three of its first five drives, while Baylor didn’t hit pay dirt until the offense ran onto the field for the seventh time. The Bears are still seeking another home win over an FBS opponent, as their last one came in a 35-23 win versus Kansas on Oct. 22, 2022.
“Coming home and not executing is definitely frustrating,” seventh-year senior safety Bryson Jackson said. “And it hurts because we want to show our fans, we want to show Baylor University what we’re about because we represent them. It’s just important that we get this fixed.”
Iowa State (5-3, 4-1 Big 12) snapped Baylor’s (3-5, 2-3 Big 12) four-game winning streak on homecoming. The Bears had won 11 of their last 12 homecoming contests entering Saturday’s game.
“In my eyes, it’s not a concern of effort or any of that, it’s the execution in the beginning of the game,” Aranda said. “We get to the end of it, and we’re trying to dig ourselves out of a hole. And it’s been a common pattern. And it’s one that’s been addressed from different angles. And we still haven’t got it fixed.”
Aranda added that it’s frustrating to have that and that everyone is walking around with the disappointment of another home loss.
Baylor averaged 3.4 yards per play in the first half to the tune of one touchdown. The Bears missed their PAT after the score and became the first power conference opponent to score less than seven points in a first half against Iowa State.
Iowa State also converted on 5 of 7 third downs in the first half to Baylor’s 2 of 7 mark. The Bears were 4 for 14 (29%) on third downs for the entire game, and they converted on 3 of 6 fourth down attempts.
By comparison, the Cyclones were 9 for 15 on third downs in the game and jumped out to a 17-6 halftime lead.
“This is a hard place to do that,” Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell said of his team’s quick start. “I think the last two times we’ve played here we’ve dug a big hole and had to come back from it. I think we just wanted to get off to a good start in the game and have some great execution.”
Iowa State won in Waco for the first time since 2017. The Cyclones, led by NFL starters quarterback Brock Purdy and running back Breece Hall, fell to the Bears 31-29 in a 2021 thriller. ISU also lost to Baylor in Ames, Iowa, last year.
Baylor was led out wide by junior wide receiver Monaray Baldwin, who totaled 117 yards on six catches and one TD, his third of the season. Baldwin notched his third game with 100 or more receiving yards this season and fifth of his career.
Freshman running back Dawson Pendergrass found the most success on the ground, as he scored a pair of rushing touchdowns to own a team-leading four on the year. Pendergrass rushed the ball eight times for 37 yards (4.6 yards per carry) with a long of 18 yards.
The Cyclones took a 27-6 lead after scoring 10 straight points to start the third quarter. The Bears responded with 12 unanswered points, failing to convert on a couple of two-point attempts. Baylor’s 27-18 deficit was the closest it would get, though, as Iowa State booted the final points of the game, a 25-yard field goal.
The Bears had the ball with 8:23 remaining after the kick, but they turned the ball over on downs near the red zone about four minutes later. Pendergrass was given the ball on 4th-and-3 and he only mustered a yard.
“Going for it on fourth down should be an advantage for us,” Aranda said. “And we have to really work hard to make it so it’s that way again.”
Baylor now joins UConn as one of two programs with five or more home losses in the year.
Sophomore safety Devyn Bobby led the Bears’ defense with a career-high 11 tackles, the most for a Baylor defender in 2023. Bobby also secured his first career interception on Saturday.
Meanwhile, redshirt junior quarterback Blake Shapen threw his first pick of the season in the first half. Shapen snapped a streak of 186 consecutive passes without an interception. He completed 24 of 41 passes for 239 passing yards, one TD and one pick.
The Bears now have to win three of their final four games to reach bowl eligibility for the third straight season. They will meet Houston for a 2:30 p.m. kickoff next Saturday at McLane Stadium. The contest will be broadcast on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.
Senior tight end Drake Dabney said there’s confidence among the squad to advance to a bowl game, something Baylor has done in 11 of the last 13 years.
“We’ve taken some punches throughout this year, but I think we still have that belief,” Dabney said. “Today I don’t think it was an effort thing or a ‘want to’ thing. I felt like we were all in it. … We’re going to continue to work, watch the film and learn from it and put this thing together to finish the year strong.”
- Junior wide receiver Ketron Jackson Jr. left the game in the first half with what appeared to be a head injury. Jackson was the subject of a targeting call by ISU senior defensive back T.J. Tampa. Aranda gave no update on Jackson’s status, but he never returned to the game following the hit.