The college football season is heating up and we have a massive Big 12 showdown in Iowa on Saturday afternoon.
#17 Baylor Bears (2-1) vs. Iowa State Cyclones (3-0)
@ Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, IA
How to see:
- Date: Saturday, 09/24
- time: 12:00 ET
- channel: ESPN
The Cyclones are looking to extend their winning streak when they open Saturday’s Big 12 game against Baylor.
For the first time since 2012, Iowa State opened its season with three straight wins. Another win would give the Cyclones their most early-season wins in over 20 years. The team standing in Iowa State’s way is none other than the Big 12 champions of 2021.
Historically, the rivalry between Iowa State and Baylor has been even, with Baylor leading the way with a record of 11-9. However, the matchup tends to favor the team playing at home, with both sides having track records at their respective stadiums.
Baylor got the best of Iowa State in 2021 en route to their upset Big 12 Championship win over Oklahoma State. With Baylor sitting at the helm of the conference before the start of the season, the game against Iowa State looked like a textbook win for the Bears.
Now that every team has gained a foothold in the first three games of the season, it looks like Iowa State might give Baylor a shot. Iowa State put on a dominating performance against SEMO and Ohio, even defeating Iowa at home. Offense looks as explosive as ever, and defense has blocked teams left and right.
Baylor started his season very differently from Iowa State, notching up comfortable wins over Albany and Texas State. The Bears are currently 2-1, with the only loss for a BYU ranked team coming in week two. With the Bears’ dominance on both sides of the ball, it’s clear why they’re among the top 25 teams in college football.
Although Baylor is ranked higher than Iowa State and has had more success recently, teams tend to keep the series tight and competitive. Baylor scored a win over Iowa State by just two points last year when the Cyclones traveled to Waco, Texas. However, home field advantage will be in favor of Iowa State this time.
The last time Iowa State lost to Baylor at Ames was in 2016. Not only that, Iowa State is currently on an 11-game winning streak against Big 12 opponents at home. Jack Trice Stadium is a tough place for any team and Saturday should put Baylor to the test.
Both teams have enjoyed similar success on both sides of the ball. The state of Iowa ended questions about the offense’s inexperience after several weeks of success. Quarterback Hunter Dekkers looks as talented as advertised while the running back room shouldn’t see a lack of production as Jirehl Brock now takes the lead. Xavier Hutchinson is also cementing his legacy as an elite wide receiver as he is on track in his best season yet, notching five touchdowns in three games to even his total in the 2021 season.
Baylor’s offense didn’t have many troubles either, putting points on the board, scoring multiple touchdowns in every game, and keeping the game close against a BYU league leader. The running back room also showed great depth in the first three games, with three running backs rushing for over 20 snaps a year and each back rushing for multiple touchdowns.
Although both teams have the ability to score at will, the main star of the show for both teams is defense. In three games, Iowa State leads the Big 12 in total defense with 234.3 yards per game and has nine points in defense thanks to the Big 12’s best eight takeaways. Nationally, Iowa State is top ten in total defense and fifth in rushing defense.
Baylor’s success in 2021 was largely due to his elite defense, and there’s no sign of that defense waning. Baylor is close behind Iowa State in overall defense and ranks third in the Big 12, just behind Kansas State.
The opening Big 12 game will prove to be an important game for both teams as they look to get into the Big 12 game on the right foot. Given how even the teams are, it could prove to be a battle of wills in Ames, Iowa.
players to know:
O’Rien Vance—ISU, LB
Season statistics 2022: 14 tackles, one sack, two forced fumbles
Vance has been an integral part of the defense of the state of Iowa for years. As Vance grew into a leadership role in the linebacker squad, he wanted to make a difference across the field. So far, his 2022 season shows he wants to make a mark before leaving the team.
In each of the last two games, Vance made it big at pivotal moments with a stripe sack each. Now that the state of Iowa is opening its Big 12 list with Baylor at home, you can expect Vance to make a major contribution to the defense of the state of Iowa.
Anthony Johnson Jr – ISU, p
Season statistics 2022: five solo tackles, one interception
Johnson made his move to safety in full strides at the start of the 2022 season. After his performance against Ohio, he was praised by Campbell for how well he acted in the film. Not many other safeties or defensive players play at the level of Johnson.
Coupled with a perfect day against Ohio, Johnson secured his first interception of his long-awaited career. With tough games ahead, Johnson must continue to make an impact and help the Iowa State’s defense end explosive crime in the Big 12.
Richard Reese – BU, RB
Season statistics 2022: 237 yards, five touchdowns, 7.0 yards per carry
When looking at who to watch on the Baylor offense, it’s hard not to notice quarterback Blake Shapen. In the first three games, Shapen showed he could compete with other top quarterbacks in the conference. However, one thing stands out from the passing game and that is the running game.
Baylor was explosive on the ground and broke through each of the three defenses they faced. With a few players taking stakes in the running back snaps, the player who showed he had the most to prove was Reese. Against Texas State, Reese had a career day, rushing for 156 yards and three touchdowns. If the Cyclones defense can’t find a way to get a grip on Reese, there’s a good chance he’ll give the Cyclones trouble all day.
- Darren Wilson, State of Iowa WR: knee injury. Doubtful for Saturday.