Baylor’s home finale comes vs Iowa St program on rise
WACO, Texas (AP) — As coach Matt Rhule nears the end of his first season at Baylor, he is steady in his message about building a program and being true to the process.
All the Bears (1-9, 1-6 Big 12) have to do to see how that works is look to the other sideline Saturday in their home finale against Iowa State. The Cyclones (6-4, 4-3) are already bowl eligible for the first time in five seasons and can clinch a winning conference record for the first time since 2000 in coach Matt Campbell’s second season.
“We showed them coach Campbell talking to the team,” Rhule said. “He literally talked about it. He said, ‘This is what happens when you believe in process, and you shut out all the noise.’ ... All we’re trying to get our guys to do is continue to buy into the things we can control, which is how we prepare, how hard we play, our process. They’ve done that there.”
Baylor was the No. 2 team in the country the last time the Cyclones visited Waco two years ago. The Bears won 45-27 in what was coach Paul Rhoads’ final season in Ames, and also Art Briles’ last year at Baylor before the sexual assault scandal that led to him being fired.
After going 7-6 last year under interim coach Jim Grobe, the Bears this season have started 11 true freshmen, including quarterback Charlie Brewer.
The Cyclones dropped out of the Top 25 after consecutive close losses to ranked teams, 20-16 at West Virginia and then 49-42 against Oklahoma State, which scored twice in the final 6 minutes to spoil their home finale. They were 4-0 in October, including upsets over top-five teams Oklahoma and TCU.
“Yeah, I see a lot of similarities between us and Iowa State,” Baylor freshman guard Xavier Newman said. “I feel like the toughness is there. They have a lot of good coaches, we have a lot of good coaches.”
Some other things to know when Baylor plays its home finale on the banks of the Brazos River:
TAKING SNAPS FOR CYCLONES
Kyle Kempt has started the last six games at quarterback for Iowa State, but got banged up in the Oklahoma State game. Linebacker Joel Lanning took some more snaps, and redshirt freshman quarterback Zeb Noland got his first extended action (17-of-28 passing for 263 yards).
“These guys have done a really good job of staying within themselves and I think the best thing we’ve done is no matter who’s been at quarterback, really since the early part of the season, we’ve done a really good job taking care of the football,” Campbell said. “When you can do that, and you certainly have some of the playmakers we have on the outside, distributing the ball to those guys is really the upmost importance.”
1,000 TIMES 7
Sophomore WR Denzel Mims had 152 yards receiving last week against Texas Tech, giving him 1,001 yards for the season. It’s the seventh consecutive season Baylor has a 1,000-yard receiver, making the Bears the only FBS team to do that from 2011-17.
Iowa State has run 707 consecutive offensive plays without a lost fumble dating back to last season. The Cyclones are the only team in the nation without a lost fumble, something no FBS team has ever done for an entire season.
In a season when 32 underclassmen have started for Baylor, 18 seniors will be honored before the game. “Our seniors are just wonderful people,” Rhule said. “They could’ve gone somewhere else. They could’ve restarted their careers, but they chose to finish them here.”
CLOSE TO 1K
Cyclones sophomore running back David Montgomery is second in the Big 12 with 93.6 yards rushing per game. He needs only 64 yards to reach 1,000 yards for the season. Baylor is last in the Big 12 allowing 195 yards per game.