Last week in the Texas preview, I wrote this: “If K-State can’t get back on track this weekend in Manhattan, then things are about to get exponentially worse.”
Exponential may have been the wrong word. I’m still not sold on Texas as anything other than a top-30(ish) team, and K-State has been a lot worse than that so far. So losing to them wasn’t the end of the world. But as a home game against a not-great team, it was an opportunity a team like K-State needed to take advantage of. Alas.
If last week was an opportunity to get back on track, then this week’s trip to Waco could be a reckoning. Lose to Baylor, and it starts feeling like the ceiling on this season is 3-9.
And the Bears are favored.
Players to Watch
Passing: Skylar Thompson, 47-84-1, 601 yards, 7.2 yards/attempt, 4 TDs, 120.2 yards/game
Rushing: Alex Barnes, 82 carries, 357 yards,4.4 yards/carry, 2 TDs, 71.4 yards/game
Receiving: Isaiah Zuber, 29 receptions, 389 yards, 13.4 yards/reception, 3 TDs, 77.8 yards/game
Passing: Charlie Brewer, 102-162-1, 1,262 yards, 7.8 yards/attempt, 8 TDs, 252.4 yards/game
Rushing: John Lovett, 44 carries, 233 yards, 5.3 yards/carry, 3 TDs, 46.6 yards/game
Receiving: Jalen Hurd, 31 carries, 415 yards, 13.4 yards/reception, 3 TDs, 83.0 yards/game
I don’t mean to alarm anyone, but Baylor may have as good a collection of skill-position talent as anyone in the Big 12. Lovett and Denzel Mims had big games last year in Manhattan, and Hurd is now the leading receiver. Hurd and Mims go 6’4” and 6’3”, and stop me if you’ve heard this before, but they will be a matchup problem for our undersized and shorthanded secondary.
Defensively, linebacker Terrel Bernard leads the way with 27 tackles, including 2.5 TFL and a sack. Defensive tackle James Lynch and end Greg Roberts have combined for six sacks and nine TFL. The Bears only have two interceptions on the season, so the secondary hasn’t been as active as he usual Baylor secondary in the last decade.
To put it mildly, it will not be strength-on-strength when K-State has the ball. Baylor is pretty bad against the run and not a lot better against the pass, so K-State’s anemic offense will have a chance to get going. And they may need to, because Baylor’s offense is good. K-State’s best news here is that the Bears aren’t particularly good at generating explosive plays either passing or rushing. If K-State can force sustained execution, then they may be able to muck things up enough to hang in it.
Unlike previous weeks, I don’t feel like K-State needs a ton of help to have a chance in this game. That’s not really justified by the Vegas line (Baylor -4.5) or S&P+’s projection (Baylor by 14[!]). But the Bears rank 24 spots behind Texas by S&P+, and had K-State prevented a punt-return touchdown or caught a touchdown pass at the end of the first half, then all other things equal, the Wildcats would’ve pulled out a win last week.
Playing on the road is a different deal, and who knows what the team’s mentality is right now. If they play with the fight they showed in the second half against Texas, then they could get a win in Waco. Anything less, and this will probably be a bitter, crushing loss.
Bears 27, Wildcats 17