A lot of words can be used to describe Iowa State’s 71-7 loss to 12th ranked Baylor Bears on Saturday night. Discomforting is the one I’m going to roll with though.
The definition of discomforting is "to make someone feel uneasy, anxious, or embarrassed."
Uneasy, because nobody within that program saw the worse loss in Iowa State history coming to Baylor on Oct. 19, 2013.
Anxious, because the very thought of a young football team rebounding from that demoralizing of a loss really does make a guy wonder how the next few months might go.
Embarrassed, because well, the final score speaks for itself.
Iowa State football teams have taken plenty of humble lickings over the years and if you’re hanging out at CycloneFanatic.com, you’ve likely witnessed your painful share of them. But statistically, none were worse than this one. Not the Nebraska routs back in the day. Not Texas in 2007. Not Oklahoma in 2010 (the old-timers reading this can and will go back a lot farther than that).
It was offense (didn’t even crack 200 yards), defense (gave up over 700 yards) and special teams (gave up two touchdowns of their own). This was as "team" as a "team" loss could have been.
Now, let’s step back and keep it real for a moment. Any rational human being saw that loss coming. Rarely do one-win 34-point road underdogs actually defeat 5-0 teams, especially ones that are putting up video game numbers that we’ve really never seen before in the sport (like Baylor is currently doing).
Losing is one thing. That was discomforting.
Walters, Heft and Bruns – Because I refuse to give it to a punter. And because calling a game like that is not an easy thing to do.
Art Briles – Do not forget that this Baylor program that has been on the other end of these types of games quite a bit over the course of history. Art Briles isn’t a football coach. Art Briles is a miracle worker. Somehow, he (with an assist from some guy named "RG3") has made Baylor football cool nationally. The Bears are basically Oregon Light. Or is Oregon Baylor Light now-a-days? I know, I’m getting ahead of myself.
Or am I?
Baylor’s Defense – I am sure that Iowa State’s inept offense had a lot to do with it, but give credit where it is due. The 2013 Baylor Bears aren’t what they were a year ago. This program is no longer a one-trick pony.
Baylor forced Iowa State to punt 10 times on Saturday night. The Bears forced three Cyclone turnovers while holding Iowa State 174 yards. Iowa State only averaged 1.2 yards per carry on the ground.
“Substantially better from where they were both of the last two years,” Paul Rhoads said about Baylor’s defense after the game. “They are very sound. They are being a little bit more aggressive.”
Baylor’s offense speaks for itself. It’s crazy-good. Now that this program just might have a defense, it is without question a threat to win the Big 12 outright this season.
Should get easier – If you’re looking for a silver lining, Iowa State’s first three Big 12 opponents (Texas, Texas Tech and Baylor) are a combined 10-0 so far in league play.
Offensive line – This group cannot catch a break on the injury front and it seems to be getting worse by the week.
Quarterback management – I was all for Paul Rhoads going to his bench and letting Grant Rohach get some playing time in the first half. We all know how banged up Sam Richardson is. That’s exactly what Rhoads did in the first half and as most quarterbacks would in that situation, Rohach struggled. Richardson then started the second half, and that’s where Rhoads lost me. So did he go to Rohach because of performance issues or injury issues?
Obviously, this is going to be a giant story to follow over the next seven days.
Everything – When you lose a game by 64-points, finger pointing is inevitable. But as noted earlier, and it is worth noting again, this was a team loss. Nothing positive came from it.
To state the obvious, this program has now been backed into a corner unlike anything a Rhoads team has ever faced. Rhoads has proven time and time again that he can get his teams out of a bind. But he’s never had this young of a group either. How will these specific Cyclones respond?