WACO, TX - NOVEMBER 18: Quarterback Blake Szymanski #6 of the Baylor Bears passes the ball during the game against the Oklahoma Sooners on November 18, 2006 at Floyd Casey Stadium in Waco, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Austen Arnaud threw for 166 yards and scored two touchdowns as Iowa State broke an 11-game losing streak in Big 12 play by thumping Baylor 24-10 on Saturday.
Marquis Hamilton added nine catches for 97 yards for the Cyclones (4-3, 1-2), who picked up their first conference victory since downing Colorado two years ago.
Iowa State, which was never seriously threatened by the Bears, is two wins shy of bowl eligibility with five games left to play. The Cyclones also recovered from back-to-back gut-wrenching losses to Kansas State and Kansas by knocking off yet another mark from their checklist.
"I don't know if, in seven games in a season, I've been around a team that continues to prepare like ours does. To do that, and suffer the defeats that we did the last two weeks and continue to play and continue to show up is truly hats off to the men we have in that locker room," Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads said.
The Cyclones jumped out to a 14-3 halftime lead on Arnaud's 1-yard TD run and a 4-yard touchdown pass from Arnaud to Derrick Catlett. Iowa State then blocked a punt midway through the third quarter, setting up a 20-yard touchdown run by Jerome Tiller to make it 24-3.
Iowa State was 12 of 18 on third-down conversions and had 454 yards of total offense.
Blake Szymanski threw for 223 yards but tossed three interceptions for the Bears (3-3, 0-2), who lost their 21st straight game in which they trailed at halftime.
Baylor scored a TD with 9 seconds left, giving the Bears just 17 points through two Big 12 games.
"I'll take the credit for us not winning and the way we played. There's no excuse for some of the things that happened on the field tonight. It's my responsibility. I know our players will respond," Baylor coach Art Briles said.
The second half opened with a bit of levity, as a small brown rabbit ran directly through Iowa State's kick coverage team before dashing through the end zone.
Until Justin Akers' meaningless late score, that bunny was about all the Cyclones let get past them.
"I think we have a lot more confidence in what we're doing and the scheme we're running. Guys are really believing in what we're doing and what the coaches are telling us," Iowa State linebacker Jessie Smith said.
The Bears gambled on the opening series of the second half by going for it on 4th-and-1 on their own 32-yard line, but Iowa State stuffed Szymanski on a keeper. Grant Mahoney's 45-yard field goal gave the Cyclones a 17-3 lead.
Arnaud bruised his throwing hand early in the first half and was replaced in the third quarter by Tiller, his backup, on Iowa State's next series. Rhoads said he expects Arnaud to be back for next week's game at Nebraska.
Running back Alexander Robinson, who has been nursing a sore groin, left shortly thereafter as well. Rhoads sounded less optimistic about the status of Robinson, who rushed for 83 yards on 19 carries.
"We'll just have to see," Rhoads said of Robinson. "He walked off the field pretty gingerly."
The Cyclones didn't miss a beat without their two offensive stars.
Tiller ran 20 yards for his first career touchdown to put Iowa State ahead 24-3 with 7:59 left in the third quarter. Tiller was impressive in his first game with significant playing time, completing seven of eight passes for 48 yards and rushing for 74 yards on 10 carries.
Baylor's faint hopes for a comeback were dashed when Szymanski, making his first start of the season after battling through a shoulder injury, threw an interception on the final play of the third quarter.