The competition was better.
A year ago, 12th-ranked Baylor hosted Iowa State. Saturday night, the No. 7 Bears visited Ames.
“This Baylor team, in my opinion, is better than the one from a year ago,” Coach Paul Rhoads said.
The results were better.
ISU suffered a humbling loss last fall against the Bears. The Cyclones were competitive early when the schools played last weekend.
“One of our goals was to start positively and we did that,” Rhoads said. “Being at 14-7 at the end of the first quarter gave us a chance to compete.”
The gains from 2013 to 2014 means that Paul Rhoads’ team continued its improvement trend.
“To do some of the things we did against them (leads me to believe) we improved against them,” Rhoads said.
The Cyclone offense sputtered early Saturday, but it got on track.
ISU ran 13 more plays against Baylor than a year ago and averaged 1.7 yards more per play. Iowa State had a season-long 92-yard scoring drive. The team’s third-down conversion percentage was 10% higher and it nearly doubled its total offense (339-174) and did have twice as many first downs (18-9) as the prior time the schools met.
The Cyclone defense also made gains in many areas.
Baylor rushed for 47 yards fewer, passed for 66 yards fewer and averaged more than a yard-and-a-half less per offensive snap. ISU held the Bears to 22 fewer points than the match-up in Waco a year ago. The Cyclones also managed a sack and turnover, and they did neither last year.
In its first three games of ‘14, Baylor had jumped to leads of 35-0, 28-0 and 45-0. When the Bears opened with TDs on two first quarter two drives, you wondered if more of the same was coming. Much like its game vs. K-State several weeks back, however, Iowa State rallied.
That resiliency is important. Add in continued improvement in the coming weeks and the win-loss ledger could very well start to even out.