WILLIAMS: Final thoughts on ISU/Baylor, weekly Big 12 predictions

Oct 31, 2020; Waco, Texas, USA; Baylor Bears quarterback Charlie Brewer (5) throws down field against the TCU Horned Frogs during the second half at McLane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports

Forgive me for being a bit paranoid. But when Blum and I sat down to record our weekly podcast last Sunday night, I was fully convinced that Iowa State’s date with Baylor (Saturday night, 6 p.m., FS1) was the trap game of the century. And it still might be. 

However as the week has gone on, I’ve become more comfortable with Iowa State in this “spot,” as gamblers like to say. 

Even as a 14-point favorite, Iowa State could lose this game. Baylor certainly isn’t Kansas and as I have tried to point out multiple times over the course of the season, Iowa State is a developmental football program. The Cyclones – while among the favorites to win the league at this point in the season – are not head and shoulders above anybody when it comes to raw talent. 

But as we have already seen this season (cough, cough, Louisiana), you have to show up and play!

I do trust Iowa State in this spot though. 

Perhaps Kansas’ ability to somewhat hang around into the third quarter last week was a good thing for the Cyclones. Matt Campbell, while content, seemed a bit chippy after the 52-22 win over the Jayhawks on the Cyclone Radio Network. Campbell was certainly not satisfied. Nor should he be. If we’re being honest, for a 30 point win, it was a clunky game. 

This Iowa State team is thinking championship. If you’re of that mindset, every game is a must-win. If Iowa State wants to win a conference title in 2020, Baylor is a must-win. 

Let’s investigate. 

My key for both teams … 

Protect the quarterback … 

Baylor more so than Iowa State, but I am concerned about a trend with the Cyclones. 

— Veteran Baylor quarterback Charlie Brewer was sacked five times in a loss to TCU last Saturday. He’s been sacked a whopping 14 times this season. That’s an average of 3.5 sacks per game, the 121st worst number in college football (that is skewed as it includes Pac-12 schools that have not played yet). 

Brewer is being asked to do everything on offense and his line has, for the most part, failed him. 

— My guess – just a guess – is that while Jon Heacock is usually very conservative with blitzing early in games, it makes sense for Iowa State to come after Brewer early and often. 

— The same can be said on the other side, as Iowa State’s offensive line has greatly struggled in pass protection the last two games. Brock Purdy is mobile and has done a nice job of extending plays, but Dave Aranda is an elite defensive mind. Baylor had to replace nine starters on defense and they are currently a top-20 team in the country giving up only 4.9 yards per play. 

I fully expect Aranda to have Iowa State’s pass protection problems scouted heavily. 

— Good thing for the Cyclones … Baylor gave up nearly 250 yards on the ground to TCU last week. Behind a running quarterback in Max Duggan, Gary Patterson gave Iowa State a blueprint on how to move the ball against the Bears.

Breece Hall is licking his chops. 

Weekly Big 12 Predictions 

Texas 28, West Virginia 20 — A fascinating football game between two teams in “prove it” spots. Texas is fresh off of its best win of the season and will look to flex its muscles for the home stretch. West Virginia has quietly had a nice season and wants to get into the fight. 

Oklahoma 59, Kansas 13 — What is Vegas supposed to do here? The line is currently 37.5. The Sooners might cover that in the first half. 

TCU 31, Texas Tech 20 — Same analysis as last week on TCU. We’ve learned who they are – a very solid middle of the pack team in the Big 12. They will handle business vs. teams of a similar profile. TCU has a soft schedule the rest of the way and will roll from here on. 

Oklahoma State 24, Kansas State 14 — A no-brainer spot to play Kansas State in most years, but I’ll back Mike Gundy here. K-State greatly struggled to move the football last week in Morgantown. They are one-dimensional on offense and Oklahoma State’s defensive front-seven is really good. 

Iowa State 31, Baylor 14 — See above analysis, but I’ll back the Cyclones here. A win would put Iowa State at 5-1 in the Big 12 heading into a bye before hosting K-State in two weeks. 

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