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Iowa State eases past Baylor 30-18 to join 5-way tie atop Big 12

WACO, Texas (AP) — Cartevious Norton ran for two touchdowns, including a 69-yarder early in the second half, Rocco Becht threw for a score and Iowa State held off Baylor 30-18 on a rainy Saturday for its third straight win.

The win for Iowa State (5-3, 4-1 Big 12) combined with No. 6 Oklahoma’s 38-33 road loss to Kansas pushes the Cyclones into a five-way tie for first place in the Big 12 with the Sooners, seventh-ranked Texas, Kansas State and Oklahoma State.

“There’s a process to win here to be successful,” Iowa State coach Matt Campbell said. “We’re not perfect. Today was not pretty, but when we had to make a play in a critical moment, (we did).”

Becht was 19-for-31 passing for 238 yards and was intercepted once. Jayden Higgins caught Becht’s touchdown pass, an 18-yarder that ended the Cyclones’ first drive and helped them jump out to a 17-0 lead.

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Baylor took advantage of a short field off Devyn Bobby's interception and scored to get within 17-6 late in the first half, but Norton’s 69-yard TD run stopped any momentum the Bears might have gained.

“That’s two weeks in a row we haven’t done a very good job in terms of how we left the half,” Campbell said. “Cartevious’ run, what a great play by him and great blocking by the offensive line. Our kids were able to respond every step of the way.”

Iowa State ran for 162 yards on 35 attempts, and that balance allowed it to convert nine of 15 mostly favorable third-down tries.

Baylor (3-5, 2-3), which celebrated homecoming Saturday, has lost all three of its home conference games this season and five in a row dating to last year.

“Yeah, I do,” Baylor coach Dave Aranda said when asked if he believes the alumni deserved better. “We’ve talked about playing at home, things that are holding us back and ways to improve. I thought there was a lot of energy on the sideline, and that’s a tough chore to keep up the energy when you’re not winning.”

Baylor quarterback Blake Shapen was 24-for-41 passing for 239 yards and a 69-yard touchdown pass to Monaray Baldwin, who caught six passes for 117 yards.

Shapen, who was intercepted once, had thrown for at least 293 yards in each of his previous four starts this season.

Dawson Pendergrass ran for two touchdowns for the Bears, but Baylor managed only 67 yards rushing, averaging just 2.7 yards per attempt.

CHAMPIONSHIP FOOTBALL

Iowa State’s strong conference start puts it in position to play meaningful games in November.

“That’s what our program has stood for,” said Campbell, whose team lost to Oklahoma in the 2020 Big 12 championship game. “The last eight years, the majority of the time, we’ve been (in this position). There have been moments we’ve succeeded and moments we haven’t, but our goal is to get to November and play championship-level football.”

The Cyclones have a difficult slate in November with home games against Kansas and the Longhorns along with visits to BYU and defending Big 12 champion Kansas State.

THE TAKEAWAY

Iowa State: The Cyclones have picked it up offensively after a slow start this season. They scored 13 and seven points in losses to Iowa and Ohio, respectively, but have put up from 27 to 34 points in each of four Big 12 wins. They could have had more against the Bears but missed two open receivers for what would have been easy TDs.

Baylor: The Bears couldn’t get out of their way offensively for much of the day. The long touchdown from Shapen to Baldwin woke Baylor out of an offensive slumber, but the comeback was blunted by missing a pair of 2-point conversions. As a result, the Bears couldn’t make it a one-score deficit.

UP NEXT

Iowa State: Kansas next Saturday after the Jayhawks’ upset of Oklahoma in the first home game for the Cyclones since Oct. 7.

Baylor: The Bears will try to end the five-game home losing skid in conference games against Houston next Saturday in the first Big 12 meeting of the former Southwest Conference foes.

___ AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-football