WACO, Texas (AP) — Preseason AP All-America running back Breece Hall is scoring touchdowns at a record pace for No. 14 Iowa State while opposing rushers are having a difficult time gaining yards against the Cyclones defense.
The Cyclones (2-1) head into their Big 12 opener Saturday at Baylor having held four consecutive opponents under 100 yards rushing for the first time since 1944. But these Bears have been running wild.
Baylor (3-0, 1-0 Big 12) already has 964 yards rushing and 11 TDs to surpass its nine-game season totals from last year. Abram Smith is the first Bears running back with three consecutive 100-yard games since 2015, also the last time they had more than 300 yards rushing in back-to-back games. .
“I am beyond impressed with the offensive structure that they have right now,” Iowa State coach Matt Campbell said. “And I think the rhythm that they’re playing with on the offensive side of the football in terms of the ability to run the football, really sets their quarterback up to be in positive situations throughout the football game.”
Iowa State made its first Big 12 championship game and was the league runner-up last season. Now after a disappointing loss to instate rival fifth-ranked Iowa two weeks ago, the Cyclones rebounded with a 48-3 win last week at UNLV for their largest winning margin on the road since 1923.
“That’s what we just wanted to find, that sense of urgency, some joy for the game, the love of the game. And I thought we found it,” senior quarterback Brock Purdy said. “We focused on what we had to do that game, but having fun at the end of the day. This game is no different.”
Hall ran for a touchdown in his 15th consecutive game, matching the Big 12 record first set by Corby Jones for Missouri from 1997-98. Hall’s 37 career rushing TDs are one short of matching the school record now shared by Troy Davis (1994-96) and Dexter Green (1975-78).
“He’s got great patience and can set stuff up, and accelerate quickly,” Bears coach Dave Aranda said of Hall, who ran for 133 yards and two TDs and caught a touchdown in Iowa State's 38-31 win against them last year. ”He can carry a team."
Iowa State and Baylor are the Big 12's top two teams in total defense and scoring defense. The Cyclones lead the nation allowing only 194 total yards a game, and over their last eight games have given up only one offensive touchdown after halftime.
“They drop eight, but all those guys fly to the ball, especially the back guys,” Baylor receiver RJ Sneed said. “They’re a solid fundamental team. They are a physical team.”
Both teams have held each opponent to fewer than 300 total yards. It is the first time the Cyclones have done that in three consecutive games since 1999, while Baylor accomplished that for only the second time since 1996.
LIST CHECKED OFF
Purdy has a 19-7 record against Big 12 teams, and is the only quarterback in school history with a win over every other league team. He holds 27 school records, and against UNLV took over the Cyclones records for career passing yards (9,607) and total offense (10,638).
6 TIMES 100
Along with Smith’s three 100-yard games, Trestan Ebner has two for Baylor and Taye McWilliams has one. The Bears didn’t have an individual 100-yard game last season, when they finished with 813 yards rushing and eight TDS.
CHANCE TO DOUBLE UP
Baylor could start 4-0, and already double its win total from Aranda’s debut in the pandemic-altered 2020 season when the Bears went 2-7. The Bears won their league opener 45-7 over Kansas last week. The Jayhawks' 166 total yards were the fewest ever allowed by Baylor in a Big 12 game.
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