AMES, Iowa - Iowa State ended a difficult string of seven straight losing years in 2017 and has its sights set on something greater this season. The 25th-ranked Cyclones look to take another step toward a potential berth in the Big 12 Championship game when they host Baylor on Saturday.
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1. LINE: Iowa State -14.5
After picking up its fourth consecutive victory - a 27-3 dismantling of Kansas - Iowa State found itself tied for third and one game out in the conference, which will send its top two teams in the standings to the title game. "I think this is a team that’s stayed in the moment all year," coach Matt Campbell told reporters of the pressure. "Everybody thought it was hard to keep focus when you're 1-3. Everybody will say, 'Now, it's really hard to keep focus at 5-3,' or whatever it is. And the reality of it is the only way we have any shot - our margin of error is still really small - is that we're going to have to continue to get better." A year after going 1-11, the Bears are aiming to gain bowl eligibility in their final road game of the season. They knocked off Oklahoma State 35-31 last Saturday with a furious fourth-quarter comeback capped by Charlie Brewer's touchdown pass to Denzel Mims with seven seconds left.
ABOUT BAYLOR (5-4, 3-3 Big 12)
Brewer didn't start last week after going through concussion protocol but was ready when called upon in the third quarter, and the sophomore threw two TD passes among his eight attempts to lead the stunning comeback. Mims leads the team with five TD grabs while Jalen Hurd is on top in receptions (57) and yards (756) - ranking him third and sixth, respectively, in the Big 12 in those categories. Linebacker Clay Johnston recorded 17 total tackles against the Cowboys and ranks ninth in the conference with 59.
ABOUT IOWA STATE (5-3, 4-2)
The Cyclones' winning streak coincides with the insertion of freshman Brock Purdy at quarterback and he kept it rolling at Kansas with three TD passes - two to star wideout Hakeem Butler. Purdy has 12 scoring passes and just two interceptions during the 4-0 run and Butler is averaging 120 receiving yards during that span while hauling in five scores. Junior David Montgomery saw his streak of consecutive 100-yard rushing games end at four last week but remains on pace to become the first running back in the program with two straight 1,000-yard campaigns since Ennis Haywood in 2001 and 2002.
1. The Cyclones lead the Big 12 in rushing defense (104.9 yards allowed per game) and the Bears are ranked last (190.3).
2. Baylor RB John Lovett ran for 104 yards on just six carries last week.
3. The Bears won four straight in the series before Iowa State took last year's meeting 23-13.
PREDICTION: Iowa State 45, Baylor 27
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