College Football Picks, Odds for Baylor vs. Iowa State: Why Backing the ‘Dog is the Smart Play

College Football Picks, Odds for Baylor vs. Iowa State: Why Backing the ‘Dog is the Smart Play article feature image

Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images. Pictured: Josh Fleeks (Baylor)

  • Baylor takes on Iowa State in a Big 12 battle as part of college football's Week 4.
  • The Clones are still undefeated after a rout of Ohio last week. Meanwhile, the Bears have one loss against BYU.
  • Brad Cunningham breaks down the matchup and offers up a best bet below.

Baylor vs. Iowa State Odds

Saturday, Sept 24
12 p.m. ET
Baylor Odds
-108o / -112u
Iowa State Odds
-108o / -112u
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

Baylor heads on the road to open up Big 12 play against Iowa State at Jack Trice Stadium.

The Bears rebounded from their overtime loss in Provo with a resounding 42-7 win over Texas State in Waco.

The Bears were one of the top four teams on the odds board to take home the Big 12 title in Dave Aranda's third season. If they want a chance to get back to the title game, they'll have to win games like this.

Meanwhile, the Cyclones, unexpectedly, are sitting at 3-0 after a win in the Cy-Hawk game and a blowout of Ohio last week.

Expectations were not high for Matt Campbell's team coming into the season, as Iowa State had to replace the most starters of anyone in the Power Five. A 4-0 start to the season would have Iowa State fans in dream land.

Baylor Bears

Bears Offense

Baylor had a lot of replacing to do on the offensive side of the ball. Gerry Bohanon has moved on, star running back Abram Smith is gone and its top three pass catchers from last year are also gone.

With that being said, Baylor returned four starters on one of the best offensive lines in college football a season ago. In 2021, the Bears were 26th in Offensive Line yards, had the 15th-best PFF run-blocking grade and even more importantly, the third-best pass-blocking grade in college football.

They have continued that into this season, as the Bears are once again top-20 in both run- and pass-blocking grade, per PFF.

Baylor is a rush-heavy offense — running it on 61% of its offensive plays — so the quarterback becomes less important.

Blake Shapen really struggled in his first road start as the Baylor quarterback, putting up only 4.9 yards per attempt and a 61.2 PFF passing grade, while posting two Turnover Worthy Plays.

The Baylor rushing attack is by committee, with three running backs all having over 20 carries on the season. As a unit, Richard Reese, Craig Williams and Qualan Jones are averaging 5.9 yards per carry and have a combined 10 touchdowns already on the season.


— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) September 17, 2022

Most importantly, Baylor is No. 1 in the country in Finishing Drives. The Bears have scored a touchdown on 14 of their 16 drives inside their opponents' 40-yard line.

Bears Defense

Baylor is returning only six starters from last year's unit that was top-15 in Success Rate Allowed and Finishing Drives Allowed. A lot of the Bears' returning starters are in the front seven, and it's shown through their first three games.

Baylor brought back all three starters on a defensive line that was 24th in Defensive Line Yards. This season, the Bears have gotten even better, because through three games, they've held their opponents to just 2.5 yards per carry and have the eighth-best run-defense grade, per PFF.

Baylor has also shown the ability to get to the opposing quarterback, having the 25th-best PFF pass-rushing grade. Iowa State's offensive line is outside the top 100 in pass blocking.

The secondary lost four starters from last season, so there will be some growing pains for the Bears.

However, against BYU, they held the Cougars and Jaren Hall to just 6.7 yards per attempt. They will be tested, though, against Hunter Dekkers, since the Iowa State run game is likely not going to be effective.

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Iowa State Cyclones

Cyclones Offense

The Cyclones have new quarterback in four-star, in-state recruit Dekkers.

Dekkers was really efficient in games against Southeast Missouri State and Ohio, averaging 8.37 yards per attempt. He also had a PFF passing grade over 78 and an adjusted completion percentage over 80%.

However, in the game against Iowa, he was terrible, as his PFF passing grade was only 55.3.

Terry Roberts wanted pay dirt. 😏@troberts2502 x

— Iowa On BTN (@IowaOnBTN) September 10, 2022

Iowa State brings back its top target in Xavier Hutchinson, who hauled in 83 passes and posted a 83.4 PFF receiving grade in 2021.

So far in 2022, he's on pace to put up even bigger numbers, as he already has 28 catches for 319 yards and a 83.8 PFF receiving grade.

The problem is Iowa State doesn't have a lot of weapons outside of him in the passing game, which is why he's already commanded 37% of the targets from Dekkers.

Even with Breece Hall in the backfield in 2021, the Cyclones ranked 51st in EPA/Rush, 86th in Rushing Success Rate, 72nd in Offensive Line Yards and 105th in Stuff Rate Allowed.

This year, it's more of the same, as the Cyclones are only averaging 4.0 yards per carry while ranking 99th in Rushing Success Rate and 112th in EPA/Rush.

Cyclones Defense

Even though Iowa State lost a ton of starters on defense, it still has All-American edge rusher Will McDonald IV, who posted 11.5 sacks in 2021 and a 85.3 PFF pass-rushing grade.

McDonald has been a bit quiet in his first three games (only five QB pressures), but Iowa State does rank 45th in terms of a pass-rushing grade.

Iowa State has not faced a competent offense yet this season, so its rankings and numbers are a little skewed.

The Clones are fourth in the country in Finishing Drives Allowed and are only allowing 3.2 yards per play. However, they've played Southeast Missouri State, Iowa and Ohio, so Baylor's efficient offense is going to be a massive step up in competition for them.

Baylor vs. Iowa State Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Baylor and Iowa State match up statistically:

Baylor Offense vs. Iowa State Defense
Rush Success651
Line Yards3030
Pass Success7137
Pass Blocking**1745
Finishing Drives14
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Iowa State Offense vs. Baylor Defense
Rush Success995
Line Yards7354
Pass Success1236
Pass Blocking**10825
Finishing Drives3626
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling1936
PFF Coverage4023
SP+ Special Teams100101
Seconds per Play26.0 (59)27.8 (92)
Rush Rate61.0% (23)49.5% (90)
Data via (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.

Baylor vs. Iowa State Betting Pick

I love Baylor in this matchup.

Iowa State is about to get a rude awakening and will finally have to play a competent offense. The Clones also showed against Iowa that they are unable to run the ball, which puts the entire game in Dekkers' hands.

With a top-20 offensive and defensive line, Baylor should be able to dominate the trenches of this matchup.

I have Baylor projected as a -1.2 favorite in Ames, so I love the Bears at +2.5 (FanDuel) or better.

Pick: Baylor +2.5

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