Last week the Baylor Bears survived a scare against the Kansas State Wildcats, rallying with 14-unanswered points in the 4th quarter to escape 35-25. It was the lowest offensive output of the season for the high-flying Baylor offense which had to grind out a game much longer than they’re used to doing in 2013. While K-State may not have pulled off the victory, they did give the Iowa State Cyclones a blueprint to hang with Baylor this weekend: Control the tempo of the game.
The Wildcats found their offensive rhythm with the running game and ground down the clock by sustaining long drives down the field. That helped their defense stay rested on the sidelines for a big chunk of the game so they could come out and force some empty possessions out of the Bears’ offense. As a result, Baylor ran just 58 plays on the day, just about 23 fewer than their season average and coming a week after they ran 94 plays in their blowout win against the West Virginia Mountaineers. Without being on the filed for more than 58 plays, Baylor’s offense couldn’t put up their usual 70 points on the Wildcats and the game stayed tight for most of the day.
Iowa State needs to follow the same gameplan this week. The offense needs to find a rhythm to sustain drives and shorten the game. Running back Aaron Wimberly will be vital to that cause and should be featured heavily. Baylor has looked susceptible to the running game, allowing 324 yards on the ground to K-State last week (199 of those from quarterback Daniel Sams). Cyclones’ QB Sam Richardson has also shown the ability to run the ball a bit this season (243 yards on 71 carries), so Paul Rhoads should be calling on Richardson and Wimberly all day long. They can’t get into a shootout with Baylor throwing the ball because they are just too heavily 0ut-gunned.
They absolutely have to do a better job controlling the tempo than they did last week. In a 42-35 loss in Lubbock to the Texas Tech Red Raiders, the Iowa State defense was on the field for 101 plays. The defense simply ran out of gas after being left out on the field that long. If Baylor is allowed 101 plays of offense in their game on Saturday, the Bears might hang 90 on the Cyclones’ defense.
The best way to stop the Baylor offensive machine from putting up obscene points is to keep that offensive machine idling on the sideline. It’s the blueprint provided by Kansas State and it is the only way that Iowa State can hang with Baylor in Waco this weekend.