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How they match up: Baylor vs. Iowa State

How they match up: Baylor vs. Iowa State

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Iowa St UNLV Fooball

Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy (15) hands the ball off to running back Breece Hall (28) in last week’s win over UNLV. Purdy and Hall represent two of the better skill players in the Big 12, and Baylor’s defense will be keyed on them.

Tribune-Herald sportswriters John Werner and Brice Cherry, plus special guest Randy Peterson of the Des Moines Register, talk Big 12 football this week.

Baylor offense vs. Iowa State defense

Baylor’s offense has transformed from one of the worst in the Big 12 to the best so far this season. The Bears lead the Big 12 with 558.7 total yards and 46.7 points per game, and their ground game is by far the best in the league with 321.3 yards per game. Iowa State’s defense has arguably been the best in the Big 12 by allowing a league low 192.7 yards per game while ranking second behind Baylor by limiting opponents to 13.3 points.

Edge: Baylor

Baylor defense vs. Iowa State offense

There isn’t a more balanced offense in the league than Iowa State with proven quarterback Brock Purdy and All-America running back Breece Hall leading the way. Charlie Kolar is one of the best tight ends in the country while wide receiver Xavier Hutchinson is the Big 12’s leading receiver with 20 catches for 243 yards and two touchdowns. Baylor’s veteran defense has been as good as expected, but the Bears are seeking a better pass rush after collecting just three sacks in the first three games.

Edge: Iowa State

Tribune-Herald sportswriters John Werner and Brice Cherry, plus special guest Randy Peterson of the Des Moines Register, talk Big 12 football this week.

Key matchup: Baylor O-line vs. Iowa State D-line

One of Baylor’s biggest goals coming into the season was to improve offensive line play, and thus far the big guys up front have exceeded expectations. Averaging 321.3 yards rushing per game with 11 touchdowns, the Bears lead second-leading Big 12 rushing team Texas by 76.3 yards. Iowa State has been phenomenal against the run by limiting opponents to 49.3 yards and 1.5 yards per carry, but the Cyclones haven’t seen a one-two punch like Baylor running backs Abram Smith and Trestan Ebner.

Edge: Baylor

Special teams

An All-America kickoff returner last season, Ebner is still looking for a breakout performance in 2021. Baylor freshman Isaiah Hankins has nailed four of five field goals including a 48-yarder, while Issac Power is averaging 40 yards per punt. Iowa State’s Andrew Mevis has hit three of four field goals, and Corey Dunn is averaging 40.8 yards per punt.

Edge: Baylor

Intangibles

Baylor is encouraging fans to wear gold and jam McLane Stadium to create a major home-field advantage against one of the most experienced teams in the league. The Bears are looking forward to playing in front of a packed house in their Big 12 home opener after last year’s crowds were limited due to COVID-19 protocol. The Cyclones likely won’t be intimidated by any road atmosphere with veterans like quarterback Brock Purdy and linebacker Mike Rose providing remarkable leadership.

Edge: Iowa State

Tribune-Herald sportswriters John Werner and Brice Cherry, plus special guest Randy Peterson of the Des Moines Register, talk Big 12 football this week.

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