Alex Barnes nearly doubled his career high in rushing yards with 250 and Baylor’s Connor Martin missed three field goals, but made a big one when it counted most and K-State (2-4, 0-3) loses to Baylor (4-2, 2-1) 37-34, leaving their hopes for the postseason looking thinner than they have in a decade.
K-State entered the half with a two-point lead thanks to a pair of Barnes rushing touchdowns and some classic, Tom Hayes-style bend-don’t-break defense, but the second half started about as bad as one could hope, when Isaiah Zuber fumbled the kickoff and Baylor scored and converted for two points to take a 20-14 lead.
The teams traded missed field goals and the score remained stagnant until Barnes found the end zone again, with a 48-yard burst 10 seconds into the fourth quarter. Nick McClellan’s PAT was blocked, and the score was knotted at 20.
From there, it was somewhat of a shootout. K-State forced a three-and-out as Blake Seiler’s defensive line finally got some big pressure on someone, sacking Charlie Brewer on 3rd and 9. Five plays later, Skylar Thompson channeled Michael Bishop and Ell Roberson, scampering 52 yards for a touchdown to retake the lead.
Baylor drove down and answered, tying the game again, then Thompson burned almost all of his good will by throwing a pass into double coverage and in between Dalton Shoen’s fingers for an interception. Baylor scored again, taking a 34-27 lead, and Reggie Walker roughed Charlie Brewer and was called for targeting, meaning he’s lost for the first half next week against OSU. But Andre Coleman and/or Collin Klein learned a lesson and gave the ball back to Barnes, who picked up chunks of yards, setting up a 28-yard Thompson pass to Dalvin Warmack to tie things up yet again.
But on the ensuing drive, Baylor burned four minutes off the clock and was able to drive down and Connor Martin didn’t miss a 29-yarder with eight seconds left. K-State couldn’t answer, and failed its best chance before KU to score a conference victory.
If we’re forced to point out positives, Alex Barnes led an effective Wildcat offense that, coming into the game, had scored only 98 points on the season—the lowest total through five games since Bill Snyder first walked the sidelines in 1989. The offense actually averaged 1.7 more yards per play than a Baylor team full of explosive skill talent.
Eli Walker looked like a man possessed on defense, making 12 tackles. nine solo, and inflicting great pain with each hit.
But costly penalties at key points, gut-wrenching turnovers and an interior offensive line that seemed unable to do its job when it really mattered kept a victory just out of reach.
Now, K-State faces a real threat of missing a bowl, as its likely to be an underdog in all but one of its remaining games. Next week, Oklahoma State will come into Manhattan angry after a 48-42 loss to Iowa State, and K-State will need to win to have any hope at all of a bowl game.