Week 7 Preview: Baylor

Big game for ISU. Back at the Jack, homecoming, under the lights, with the chance to pickup a much needed win.

The Basics:

  • Records: ISU (3-3, 0-2), Baylor (3-2, 0-1)
  • Date: Saturday, October 17th, 2009
  • Location: Jack Trice Stadium, Ames, IA
  • Time: 6:00pm CDT
  • TV: None
  • Line: ISU -2.5, O/U 53.5 , though I've seen lines as low as -1

At A Glance:

ISU, coming off of two close losses, now return to Jack Trice hoping to get their first conference win of the season (and the first since 2007).  Baylor, a trendy pick to make a bowl game prior to the season, has struggled this year, and their chances to become bowl eligible took a shot when QB Robert Griffin tore his ACL.  If either team hopes to make it to 6 wins this year, they will need to win this game.  In reality, neither team may get to 6 wins, but this week is all about keeping these hopes alive.  I think that will make for this to be a good game that could go either way.

Things You Should Know, Keys to the Game, and My Prediction After The Jump!

Things You Should Know:

  • Coming off of a close loss against Kansas, Cyclone fans might be too confident about this gameBill C at Rock M Nation projects ISU winning by 0.1, meaning it's a deadlock game.  Being favored by 1.5-2.5 points, is actually not a favor at all.  I think on average the home team gives 3-3.5 points.  With ISU being a 1.5-2.5 point favorite at home, means that if this were at Baylor, ISU would likely be a 4.5-5.5 point underdog.  In short, Bill C thinks it's an even matchup because I do not believe he takes homefield into the consideration, while Vegas thinks that Baylor is slightly better, but gives the slight nod to ISU due to the game being played in Ames.
  • Baylor's rush defense is a bit misleading.  Baylor does have the 4th worst rushing defense in the nation in terms of total rushing yards, allowing 180.8 yards/game. At the same time, they are 18th in the nation in rushing yard attempts against per game (41.8 rushing attempts/game). They are 42nd in rushing yards allowed per attempt at 4.3 yards/rush. 4.3 yards/rush is still relatively high, and I'm not saying we won't be able to run against them
  • The passing game will be more challenged compared to the past few weeks.  While Baylor is ranked 74th in passing yards allowed/game at 234.5 yards/game, those are better numbers than Kansas State and Kansas.  Everyone was excited how ISUwas able to pass last week.  This week, we will get a better idea of whether the passing game has improved, or if the previous pass defenses were just really bad.  It's probably a combination of both, but I will be interested in seeing how they perform in the passing game.
  • Arnaud should get plenty of time to throw compared to last week.  ISU is still tied for first in the nation in sacks allowed/game, but Arnaud did get hurried quite a bit from Kansas' front four, especially when it mattered.  Baylor is 70th in sacks/game at 1.8 sacks/game, so Arnaud should get enough time to make the needed throws.
  • ISU's receivers need to hang onto the ball when going across the middle. Jordan Lake is a big hitter and can force fumbles.  The guy is a bigtime playmaker on defense.
  • Iowa State needs to wrap up Baylor's running backs.  Baylor has two running backs and 1 receiver that average 7 or more yards/carry in Jay Finley, Jarred Salubi, and Kendall Wright.  Finley and Salubi have broken off runs of 70 yards or more this season, and have big play ability in addition to Wright.
  • In general, Iowa State's defense needs to key on Kendall Wright. He has caught 26 passes for 330 yards and 2 TDs and rushed the ball 15 times for 106 yards and 1 TD.  He also has taken snaps out of the Wildcat (Baylor calls it the Bearcat, but I think that's silly since there is a college team called the Bearcats and they are in Cincinatti).  Also you may remember that last year Wright tore up ISU, catching 7 passes for 132 yards and 2 TDs, including a 51 yarder that made ESPN's Top 10.  Don't think that Baylor won't try to get the ball in their biggest playmaker's hands.
  • If ISU takes the lead going into the 4th quarter, I like their chances. Baylor has only scored 7% of their points (11 total) in the 4th quarter.  Their best quarter, however, is the third, where they have scored 36% of their points (55 total).  ISU's best quarter is close between the 2nd (31%) and 3rd (30%) quarter. In general, ISU's scoring is more evenly distributed than Baylor's.

Keys To The Game:

  • Put pressure on the QB. ISU's pass defense is 91st in the Nation at 253.6. A lot of this is due to the fact that the opposing QB has had time to find the hole in the zone and hit the open receiver. Our D-Line needs to step up.
  • Take care of the football. While this was improved last week (0 turnovers), ISU still averages 2.4 giveaways/game. Hopefully this continues.
  • Better Special Teams in all phases. I think we've seen the past two weeks how important Special Teams are in football. A lot of times it's a play or two in the special teams that determines a game between two close opponents. The team needs to be more solid here, as you do not want to leave points on the board. These botched plays really give momentum to the other team, and obviously you do not want that.

Prediction:

I think it's going to be close. ISU is a slightly better team, but Baylor has a better coach. I think it's going to come down to a play or two that whichever way it goes will likely be the winner. Both teams will score because the defenses as a whole are not that good, and game conditions sound like they will be fine by kickoff. I'll go with ISU 30, Baylor 27.

How do you see this one playing out?

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