Iowa St.-Baylor Preview
After passing its first road test, high-scoring Baylor hopes to extend one of the best stretches in program history back on its home turf Saturday night.
The 12th-ranked Bears, however, will try not to overlook a banged-up Iowa State team as they look to match a school record with a 10th straight victory.
Following a season-opening stretch in which it outscored opponents 282-65 in four home wins, Baylor (5-0, 2-0 Big 12) needed a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns to pull out a 35-25 win at Kansas State last Saturday.
The Bears managed a season-low 451 yards while scoring less than half its 70.5 points per game after they had become the first FBS team with more than 700 total yards in three consecutive games, as well as the first with 3,000 yards in a four-game span since 1996.
"We knew the way this season had gone, it wasn't going to continue like that,'' coach Art Briles said. "Everything had been in our favor, four games at home, catching everyone at a good time. We knew it would change.''
Briles' squad still leads the country in total offense at 715.4 yards per game and scoring offense with an average of 63.4 points. Now the Bears are returning to Floyd Casey Stadium with an opportunity to match the team record for consecutive wins set in 1936-37.
With its eighth straight home victory, Baylor also has a chance to open conference play with a 3-0 record for the first time in the 16-year history of the Big 12.
Though Iowa State leads the all-time series 6-5 following last year's 35-21 win in Ames, the Bears seek their third straight win over the Cyclones in Waco.
"I think we've played Iowa State enough to where we kind of know what they're going to do," quarterback Bryce Petty said. "Again at the end of the day it's about Baylor for us. From an offensive standpoint, it's always about us going out to execute, us going out to produce the way we know how."
Petty leads the Bears' prolific attack, leading all Big-12 passers with a 70.2 completion percentage, 1,690 passing yards and 13 touchdowns with only one interception. He tops the nation in passer efficiency (230.6) and yards per completion (21.1).
The junior completed 13 of 22 passes for 342 yards and three touchdowns against the Wildcats. He fired a 54-yard strike to Tevin Reese for the go-ahead score in the fourth quarter.
Reese and fellow wideout Antwan Goodley have combined for 49 catches, 1,288 yards and 12 scores during the team's best start since 1991.
"That's what Antwan and I talked about going into the season, not worrying about having one go-to guy this season," Reese said. "We wanted to tell Bryce to throw it to multiple receivers than just me and Antwan."
Lache Seastrunk gives the Bears a dangerous running game as well, leading the team with 643 rushing yards, eight touchdowns and an average of 9.9 yards per carry - the best average for any FBS running back with at least 35 attempts. Baylor ranks fourth in the nation, averaging 301.2 yards per game on the ground.
The Bears will try to continue their impressive scoring pace against the Cyclones (1-4, 0-2), who are searching for answers after allowing 666 yards in a 42-35 loss at No. 20 Texas Tech last Saturday.
Though they're plus-six in turnover margin and lead the Big 12 with nine fumble recoveries, the Cyclones have given up more than 200 rushing yards three times and are allowing a conference-worst 447.6 yards per game.
"We're working very hard trying to figure out answers to slow (Baylor) down, as well as how to put as many points on the board as we need to win this football game," said coach Paul Rhoads, whose team's four losses have come by a total of 22 points.
Iowa State will have to overcome a rash of injuries offensively as it faces an underrated Baylor defense that ranks 18th in scoring (18.0 ppg) and 25th in yards allowed (346.0).
Quarterback Sam Richardson continues to battle through an ankle injury, while leading rusher Aaron Wimberly is expected to play after sitting out Saturday's second half with a shoulder injury.
Richardson hopes to rebound from his worst performance, completing 15 of 38 passes for 168 yards with one touchdown against the Red Raiders.