During 13th-ranked Baylor’s press conference Wednesday, head coach Jim Grobe fielded a handful of questions about senior running back Shock Linwood. The past few weeks had featured questions about his shoulder injury and how he dealt with being so close to the program rushing record.
When he broke the record against Rice, it was as though he had become the prodigal son. Following a win over Oklahoma State in which he had just four yards on two carries, many wondered if he’d lost his edge.
Grobe simply described the situation as three running backs all competing for touches.
“As many great things as he’s done in the past, to be fair you have to let every position be competitive,” Grobe said, hinting that freshman JaMycal Hast and junior Terence Williams had rightfully taken carries away from a living campus legend.
Saturday, Baylor fans were reminded of the man who forged such a reputation.
In a 45-42 win over Iowa State, the prodigal son returned and surely changed the flavor of reporters’ questions heading into a bye week.
Shock Linwood rescued his team and enabled the Bears to avoid what would have been a highly damaging upset in the early portion of the Big 12 season.
For all but the final second of the game, Baylor didn’t hold a lead over the Cyclones. It wasn’t until the 6:27 mark in the fourth quarter that Baylor didn’t trail since the first score of the game went to ISU. Iowa State stayed ahead of Baylor for the first 53:33 of the game by dominating the clock, winning the possession battle by eight minutes.
Baylor had to respond quickly — especially when it was down two possessions (21-7, 28-14, 35-21, 42-28)– but without the high risk of interceptions. Enter Linwood, who had just 110 yards on 33 carries against FBS opponents. He finished the afternoon with 237 yards and a touchdown on 25 attempts thanks to his rediscovered ability to bounce off tackles and escape a collapsed offensive line.
Baylor’s first drive of the fourth quarter was particularly pivotal with the Bears down 42-28 after forcing Iowa State’s first punt of the day.
Linwood had two runs over 10 yards in that drive, with one erasing a penalty that had Baylor’s back against the wall and set up a Seth Russell touchdown a few moments later. The next drive he created his own luck on a 21-yard dash to bring Baylor inside Cyclone territory, eventually tying the game at 42-all.
Linwood finished the day with six carries over 10 yards. Two were over 30 yards, creating separate Baylor touchdowns to keep the game within reach. Breakout plays like those helped Baylor quickly finish its drives while Iowa State routinely spent four minutes or more with the ball.
Before Saturday’s game, Linwood had just two carries over 10 yards, none of which were over 20 yards. Though some caution should be applied — since Iowa State entered the game allowing the 209 rushing yards per contest, the second-most in the Big 12 — Linwood broke that barrier on his own. Baylor collectively doubled that rate with 469 rushing yards. Williams chipped in with 126 yards.
This is the second close call for Baylor in as many weeks. Each of its challengers, Oklahoma State and Iowa State, have similarly tried to control the clock and force the Bears to risk interceptions downfield. If Baylor can keep running the ball regularly and break loose for a big gain as Shock Linwood did in Ames, this team will be difficult to bring down.