No. 22 Kansas State Wildcats (5-1 | 2-1) AT Baylor Bears (5-2 | 2-1)
The Battle for Bowl Eligibility
Floyd Casey Stadium — Waco, Texas
Saturday, Oct. 23, 2010 — 2:35 PM CST
The Wildcats journey more than two hours away from Manhattan for the first time this season to take on the Fighting Griffins of Baylor (in addition to Robert Griffin III, there's offensive lineman Robert T. Griffin).
I wish I could say I have a good feeling about this one, but after what we saw against Nebraska, it's hard to be too optimistic any time we face a dual-threat quarterback.
Nevertheless, I'll try to point out some reasons for hope after the jump.
Carson Coffman (75 of 114, 914 yards, 8 TD, 3 INT)
Aubrey Quarles (18 catches, 244 yards, 2 TD)
Daniel Thomas (145 carries, 782 yards, 7 TD)
David Garrett (37 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 2 sacks, 1 INT, 3 PBU, 1 FF, 1 FR)
Brandon Harold (29 tackles, 6 TFL, 2 sacks, 2 PBU, 2 FF, 1 FR)
Alex Hrebec (57 tackles, 1 TFL, 6 PBU)
William Powell (20 carries, 214 yards, 2 TD, 31.5 yards per KR)
Terrance Sweeney (20 tackles, 1 TFL, 2 INT, 8 PBU, 1 FF)
Tramaine Thompson (15 catches, 212 yards)
Robert Griffin III (154 of 232, 1,969 yards, 14 TD, 3 INT; 70 carries, 376 yards, 6 TD)
Kendall Wright (40 catches, 535 yards, 3 TD)
Jay Finley (79 carries, 447 yards, 3 TD)
Josh Gordon (19 carries, 423 yards, 5 TD)
Byron Landor (60 tackles, 2 TFL. 1 INT, 3 PBU, 1 FF, 2 FR)
Tevin Elliot (21 tackles, 8 TFL, 5 sacks, 2 PBU, 1 FF)
Tevin Reese (27 catches, 250 yards)
Chris Francis (47 tackles, 0.5 TFL)
K-State (16 | +10) > Baylor (36)
Baylor (13) > K-State (102 | +5)
Baylor (8) > K-State (59 | +10)
Baylor (32) > K-State (37 | +30)
Baylor (72) > K-State (115 | +1)
Pass Efficiency Defense
K-State (9 | +5) > Baylor (50)
Baylor (80) > K-State (81 | +1)
Baylor (38) > K-State (49 | +17)
K-State (27 | +5) > Baylor (51)
Baylor (63) > K-State (68 | +19)
K-State (3 | +1) > Baylor (58)
Baylor (30) > K-State (35 | +13)
K-State (12 | -4) > Baylor (79)
Baylor (21) > K-State (27 | +17)
The numbers validate that K-State faces a tough challenge today, even if the name "Baylor" still carries a stigma.
The Bears are ranked second in the Big 12 in total offense, third in rushing offense and fifth in passing offense.
Their quarterback, Robert Griffin III, leads the conference in both passing and total offensive yards, and by a pretty healthy margin, too, surprisingly enough.
But for all that, there are some significant flaws in their game. Baylor is dependent on the big play and not particularly efficient in the red zone. If K-State can force the Bears to execute long, sustained drives, our odds of holding them to field goals and/or no points increase dramatically.
As for the fears that Griffin will run roughshod over our defense, I think they're slightly overblown. He certainly is a threat to run at any time, but he has transformed himself into a pass-first, pass-second, run-third QB. I liken him more to a more polished Jeffrey Godfrey than I do a better-throwing version of Taylor Martinez.
Besides, although K-State still has distinct talent problems, we saw a much better-coached team in Lawrence. Griffin won't have the kind of lanes to run through that Martinez enjoyed.
As for the K-State offense versus the Baylor defense, here is where the true positivity shines. Although Baylor clearly is better than KU, Daniel Thomas still should be able to have a field day against a not overly talented Bears defense.
Basically, they're UCF with slightly less overall speed. The two teams are pretty even on total defense, and if our defensive performances are anything to go by, than there should be places we can exploit them with a similar game plan to the one we used against KU.
Both teams are pretty comparable in turnover margin and punt returns, so it's hard to point to either being an advantage for either side. But K-State has a huge advantage with William Powell in the kicking game — Baylor has kicked very few touchbacks this season. That could lead to a favorable field-position game like we had last week.
I like K-State's chances to keep it close and win it in the fourth quarter and I don't particularly fear Baylor's home crowd. But I can't help but shake the nagging feeling that we don't match up well in this one and that our first real venture outside the state will lead to unexpected difficulties. I'm expecting a loss, but hoping for a win.
Prediction: Baylor 21, Kansas State 17
BracketCat's Projected Starters
QB: Carson Coffman
FB: Braden Wilson
RB: Daniel Thomas
KR: William Powell
PR: Tramaine Thompson
Elsewhere in the Big 12...
I think Texas will have a bit of a letdown after that performance last week, but luckily, they're playing the one opponent (other than KU) in this conference that you can afford to have a letdown against. Texas hasn't lost to Iowa State yet and I don't look for that to change today.
The Colorado-Texas Tech game is a real toss-up and could end up becoming a "dumb-off" between two coaches who don't impress me too much. Expect an ugly game and be thankful it's not on TV. I'll give a slight nod to CU for having home-field advantage (LOL) and a four-year head-start on Tommy Tuberville's program.
I'll go ahead and call it: Both Missouri and Oklahoma State will squeak out narrow home upsets over the "powers" of the conference, signaling a new pecking order as we head into the new 10-team conference.
Mizzou finally has the defense to beat the likes of Oklahoma and Texas, while Nebraska's red-zone defense is surprisingly crappy this season. That's not good news for the Huskers as they venture on the road to face the No. 2 red-zone offense in the nation, in its home stadium.
Speaking of dumb-offs, the game in Lawrence should be a dandy. I'm hoping that FSN broadcasts the game with a Yakity Sax soundtrack to accentuate the hilarious turnovers, coaching gaffes and other assorted idiocies that will pepper Memorial Stadium all night long. Should be a fun time for all but the fans of the two teams.
Iowa State at #19 Texas (FSN)
Longhorns 27, Cyclones 15
Texas Tech at Colorado
Buffaloes 27, Red Raiders 21
#16 Nebraska at #14 Oklahoma State (ABC)
Texas A&M at Kansas (FSN)
Aggies 38, Jayhawks 22
#1 Oklahoma at #11 Missouri (ABC)
Tigers 9, Sooners 7
All helmet images are courtesy of The Helmet Project. Check it out — it's pretty cool.