Iowa St.-Baylor Preview
With Seth Russell and Corey Coleman playing at a record-setting level, Baylor hasn’t had much trouble meeting preseason expectations halfway through.
While they believe the remarkable start is something to savor, the second-ranked Bears remain focused on pushing hard one more time before their bye week. They’ll try to extend the nation’s longest home win streak Saturday when they host Iowa State.
Russell went 20 of 33 for 380 yards and five touchdowns and rushed for 160 yards and a score in last Saturday’s 62-38 home win over West Virginia. He joined Robert Griffin III (2011) as the only quarterbacks in school history with 300 passing and 100 rushing yards in a game.
The junior has thrown for 18 touchdowns and one interception over his last four games and leads the nation with 27 scores, 11.7 yards per attempt and 18.5 yards per completion.
Russell insists the only thing that matters is keeping pace with fellow unbeatens No. 4 TCU and No. 14 Oklahoma State in the Big 12 race.
"It’s nothing really right now," he said. "It’s not until we get the national championship, and then we can look back and reminisce. We have that focus and we have that goal, and that’s win another Big 12 championship, and then have an opportunity to hopefully play for a national championship."
Coleman is making his own history for the Bears (6-0, 3-0), catching three more touchdowns against the Mountaineers to break Kendall Wright’s single-season school record with 16 – most in the nation. He also finished with 10 catches for 199 yards in a performance so impressive that West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen called him "the best player in college football."
Russell said he "100 percent" agrees with that endorsement, but coach Art Briles is hesitant to anoint Coleman even though he ranks second in the nation at 146.2 yards per game.
"Let’s talk after 12 games," he said. "We knew he’s a special player. It’s not earth-shattering news to us, we’ve been around him for four years, so we know what he brings to the table."
As if those two weren’t enough, Shock Linwood ranks eighth nationally with 133.8 rushing yards per game for a Baylor team that tops the country in scoring (63.8) and total offense (719.7). The Bears have won by an average of 36.5 points during a 19-game home winning streak that is the longest active one in the nation.
That certainly doesn’t bode well for Iowa State, which hasn’t been able to slow the second- and third-ranked offenses in its last two games. Following a 66-31 loss at Texas Tech on Oct. 10, the Cyclones allowed 31 unanswered points in Saturday’s 45-21 home loss to then-No. 3 TCU.
Iowa State piled up 262 yards en route to a 21-14 lead in the opening quarter, but managed only 199 over the final three in its fourth defeat in five games against FBS opponents.
”I think we gave them a run for their money there in the first half,” said quarterback Sam Richardson, 22 of 36 for 251 yards. ”We just didn’t get it done in the second.”
Iowa State (2-4, 1-2) would like to get Mike Warren back on track to control the ball and keep Baylor’s prolific offense off the field. After averaging 182 rushing yards in his three previous starts, he was held to 78 against the Horned Frogs.
Warren (652 yards) has shattered Stevie Hicks’ freshman school record of 471 set in 2003.
"We have a lot of respect for them," Briles said, "and we know we’re going to have to be at our best to be able to beat them on Saturday."
Baylor has given up 35 or more points in two of its last three games, and now could be without defensive tackle Andrew Billings due to injury.
The Cyclones have dropped six straight road games and have lost by an average of 38.3 points in their last three in Waco, including 71-7 in October 2013.