Every week during the year, Ryan Young, Luke Manderfeld, Brian Mozey and a special guest make their predictions for the Iowa State football game. Here are their predictions for the Cyclones' week five matchup against Baylor in Ames.
Luke Manderfeld, Sports Editor (2-2)
Speed, speed and more speed.
That's what Baylor is all about, and it has paid huge dividends so far. The Bears are 4-0 and ranked 13th in the nation even amid the turmoil of the offseason.
Baylor is just on another level. The only scenario where the Cyclones pull this one off is if they can slow down the Bears on both sides of the ball — and that's unlikely.
Ryan Young, Assistant Sports Editor (3-1)
OK, so I was wrong last week. I'll admit it and move on.
But I won't be wrong twice in a row.
Baylor is going to win this weekend in Ames, which will position themselves atop the Big 12 and the most likely in the conference to earn a spot in the College Football Playoff.
Sure, Baylor is dealing with numerous off-the-field issues. It has a new coach, replacing the fired Art Briles. They're dealing with an unprecedented sexual assault scandal, one that is causing issues for their recruiting.
Yet, the Bears are still undefeated this year. They're still winning. They're still succeeding.
And Iowa State doesn't have the talent to slow Baylor. This one won't be pretty in Ames.
Brian Mozey, Football Reporter (1-3)
Clearly from my 1-3 record, I'd suggest not following my picks, but I'll choose Baylor this weekend. Baylor looks too fast and strong for Iowa State both offensively and defensively.
The last two years, Baylor has scored in the 40s against Iowa State, as the Cyclones have scored in the 20s each year. I think that tradition will continue this season.
Alex Connor, News Editor
Baylor is going to win because Iowa State usually doesn't. In all seriousness though, while Baylor is looking at a thin roster and new coach, its speed and strength ultimately outweigh anything Iowa State could bring to the field.
Also, watch out for those yellow flags, Iowa State.
That's the one word every Iowa State (1-3, 0-1 Big 12) player uses to describe Baylor on both sides of the ball. And these players aren't lying.
No. 13 Baylor (4-0, 1-0 Big 12) is ranked eighth in the country for total offense with 2,195 total yards, 21 offensive touchdowns and an average of 548.8 yards per game. That attack is led by quarterback Seth Russell, who can pass and run when needed. He also ranks 16th in the nation in total passing yards, amassing 1,148.
"Baylor is probably one of the fastest teams we will face this season," said wide receiver Allen Lazard. "[Baylor] puts points on the board and we just need to be ready for a shootout on Saturday."
The Baylor offense has outscored its first four opponents 168-54, and it all comes down to how fast the team's tempo is compared to most schools in the country. The Bears play an offense where they tend to not substitute players in and out — they just keep pushing.
The Iowa State defense will have a challenge this upcoming weekend, but many of the veterans are prepared and know the characteristics of Baylor.
"I know our defense is strict on affecting the quarterback and I think we need to start there first," said defensive back Jomal Wiltz. "I think it'll be a big impact if we can disrupt [Seth Russell] in the passing and running game."
Along with the fast offense, Baylor continues that fast pace on the defensive side as it is ranked No. 21 for total defense in the country. They've allowed 1,240 total yards, six touchdowns and 310 yards per game.
This dominance to start the season has vaulted Baylor to the top of the Big 12. After the early-season struggles from Oklahoma, the Bears could be atop the discussion as the Big 12's favorite to make the College Football Playoff.
The defense has allowed an average of 13.5 points per game in the first four games because of its explosion off of the ball and constant speed.
Iowa State quarterback Joel Lanning and running back Mike Warren have personally pointed out Baylor linebacker Taylor Young as a leader on the Bears' defense. Young had 80 total tackles and four sacks in the 2015 regular season.
"The linebackers flow well, safeties, corners, defensive line, they all are fast and have motors," Warren said. "The Baylor defense is sound, they rarely mess up, so we need to utilize everyone for this game."
The Iowa State offense needs to use all of its weapons with the dual-quarterback system in Jacob Park and Lanning, an effective running game with Warren and multiple targets down the field with their five main wide receivers.
Lanning said he knows the Baylor defense will be doble team Lazard most of the game, which means receivers Dondre Daley, Hakeem Butler, Trever Ryen and Deshaunte Jones need to step up.
Last weekend against San Jose State, the five wide receivers had a total of 13 receptions for 204 yards and all five of the receiving touchdowns.
"We'll have to have a strong game plan coming into this game," said coach Matt Campbell. "Baylor will be one of the toughest teams we face this season."
Yes, Baylor is a 16.5-point favorite going into the weekend. Yes, Baylor is 4-0 and probably the best bet the Big 12 has at the College Football Playoff this season. And yes, I don't even have the Cyclones pulling off a victory in my pick.
But Iowa State, which has been mired in disappointing season after disappointing season, has been in many similar situations before.
How could any Iowa State fan forget beating Oklahoma State in 2011 or Nebraska in 1992? Those coaches, Paul Rhoads and Jim Walden, respectively, are remembered for those monumental wins, even though both didn't pan out in the end. This weekend could be a similarly monumental weekend under new coach Matt Campbell.
Although it is unlikely, there is a chance.
No. 13 Baylor is entering a lull in its schedule. This week it takes on Iowa State at 11 a.m. Saturday in Ames. Next weekend, the Bears go back to Waco, Texas, to take on the Big 12 bottom-feeders Kansas Jayhawks.
Could the Cyclones and Jayhawks be overlooked? We'll have to see. But the Bears, who are still entangled in a sexual assault debacle, could be peering a few weeks down the line.
Iowa State is in a good position going into the week and in a prime position to upset. Coming off the 44-10 victory against San Jose State on Saturday, when the Cyclones finally saw some semblance of what coach Matt Campbell can do, Iowa State finally has some confidence under its belt.
While it was a win against San Jose State, a team that is 1-3 and was without its starting quarterback, there's no doubt that it helps going forward.
"We’re excited, man,” quarterback Jacob Park said after the game. “It’s the start of a new beginning now. We’re about to keep this thing rolling.”
It also helps that Iowa State is moving into arguably the hardest part of this season's schedule. The next three matchups bring Baylor, Oklahoma State and Texas. There's not doubt the Cyclones aren't in a position to be overlooking anybody, but it helps when you play three of the toughest teams in the conference back-to-back-to-back.
The key for Iowa State will be to slow down Baylor's fast-paced offenses and defenses. The Bears run a unique system in which they don't substitute on offense. It keeps the defense on its toes. And on defense, the Bears don't slow down. They'll keep pounding and pounding and that'll be tough on a thin offensive line.
But the line has been trending up in the past few weeks.
"I think even last week was better than the week before,” Iowa State offensive coordinator Tom Manning said this week. “So I think we’re trending in the right direction there."
It'll take quarterbacks Jacob Park and Joel Lanning's best effort in the two-quarterback system. In addition, a stellar performance by Iowa State's defense will be needed, as well as quite a bit of luck.
If the Cyclones can pull this one off, it could be a defining moment for Campbell and his staff. A moment that Campbell could show off for future recruits and donors.
"I do think you look at Baylor and they have a bunch of good football players. That hasn't changed," Campbell said. "They know how to win. That hasn't changed. They expect to win. That hasn't changed."
Troy Davis received a call from a reporter earlier this year.
“Troy, you know that you’ve been inducted into the Hall of Fame?” The reporter asked him.
“Oh, when do the ballots come out?” Davis asked him, confused.
“No, Troy. You’re in there,” the reporter clarified.
It was at that point Troy understood. He dropped the phone and looked up to the sky.
“Thank God,” he said. “I finally made it.”
Troy is one of 14 former players and two coaches who were inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame this year, and his induction is well deserved.
Troy attended Iowa State from 1993-1996. He set numerous records at Iowa State, and was a two-time consensus All-American in 1995 and 1996. He was even the runner-up in the Heisman Trophy ballot in 1996.
He also is the only Division I player in NCAA history to run for more than 2,000 yards in back-to-back seasons.
“A hundred years go by and nobody ever did what Troy did,” said former Iowa State coach Dan McCarney, who was back in Ames for his own induction into the Iowa State Athletics Hall of Fame. “Now another 20 years go by and nobody’s ever done it, 2,000 yards two years in a row."
Troy is back in Ames over the past two weeks. He and his brother Darren, who also was an Iowa State running back, arrived ahead of the Cyclones’ game against San Jose State.
“It’s beautiful,” Troy said. “Dan McCarney deserved every award he’s getting. And for him to be inducted into the hall of fame, that’s something he’s [deserved] ever since he got here in 1995 until he left in 2006, so he deserved every moment of it.”
And his appearance back in Ames didn’t go unnoticed.
While attending the San Jose State game, both Troy and Darren had quite the crowd surrounding them when walking through the tailgate lots before the game.
“Everybody recognized me,” Troy said. “Once me and Darren started signing autographs and taking pictures, it seemed like the whole stadium came toward us to take pictures and sign autographs.”
Both Troy and Darren stuck around for this week’s game against Baylor, where Troy will be honored for his induction into the College Football Hall of Fame.
And during the brothers' time in Ames, Iowa State coach Matt Campbell said their impact on the current team has been tremendous.
"When you talk about a great football program and trying to build a program that stands for the right thing, it’s great to have former players, especially somebody like those two, that are back [around] the program,” Campbell said. “Here’s a guy that’s going in the College Football Hall of Fame and for a collegiate student-athlete, [that’s] as big an honor as you possibly can get.
“It’s been great to have them around and to have them around our players and our facilities. I just hope they keep coming around, because it’s great to have them around our team.”
Troy hasn’t been able to keep up with much Iowa State football this season. Living in Miami, the Cyclones aren’t on television much in his area.
However, getting to watch the Cyclones and running back Mike Warren — who ran for 103 yards and a touchdown against the Spartans — he was impressed with what he saw.
“It was my first time seeing him in action, and the way that he played Saturday, he deserves hands up right now,” Troy said.
Troy deserves "hands up" too.
While he narrowly missed winning the Heisman Trophy back in 1996 — something he said was sure was coming back with him to Ames — it doesn’t matter.
His legacy now lives on in the highest place possible for a college football player.
“I’m glad I made the Hall of Fame now,” Davis said.
“It’s a blessing. It’s one of my goals and one of my dreams to get in to the Hall of Fame, and I did it.”