An injury to Adrian Martinez necessitated the return of Will Howard, and he led the Kansas State offense to a brutal dismantling of Baylor tonight in a 31-3 victory at McLane Stadium in Waco.
Baylor’s offense was never effective against a smothering Wildcat defense, but the K-State offense even helped out there, keeping possession of the ball for nearly 20 minutes in the first half and wearing down the Bear defense. With the win, K-State retains possession of second place in the Big 12, with a chance to claim sole possession if TCU hangs on against Texas.
K-State (7-3, 5-2 Big 12) got into Baylor territory on the opening drive, which included three catches by Ben Sinnott and three carries for DJ Giddens, but stalled out at the 32. Going for it on 4th-and-6, Martinez was sacked at the 39 after burning six and a half minutes of clock. Baylor (6-4, 4-3) moved the ball well, but in the red zone Blake Shapen threw a pass to Josh Cameron which Cameron tipped into the air, and it was picked off by Kobe Savage. A penalty on Josh Hayes left the Cats at their own three.
No problem, except there was a problem. Martinez got the Cats out of the shadow of the end zone, with Vaughn surpassing 1000 yards on the season in the process, but on 3rd-and-1 from the 23 Martinez was injured on a quarterback sneak and had to leave the game.
*Will Howard has entered the chat*
The Cats had one play for less than five yards the rest of the drive. Vaughn had an 18-yard run, Sinnott caught a 23-yard flea flicker and then a 15-yard touchdown pass and the Cats led 7-0. The Cats forced a punt after only one first down and took over again at their own 40 after a decent return from Phillp Brooks.
They moved downfield, but had to settle for a 31-yard field goal by Ty Zentner. The defense forced a three-and-out, albeit with Savage being helped off the field; the Cats had five plays for ten-plus yards on a drive which culminated with a 20-yard touchdown pass from Howard to Vaughn, and K-State had a 17-0 lead with two minutes left in the half.
Baylor finally moved the ball, but still had to settle for a 37-yard field goal by John Mayers to end the half.
Baylor got into K-State territory after the half, but a holding penalty and a failed conversion on 4th-and-10 gave K-State the ball at the 36, but the Cats went three-and-out. Baylor got to midfield, had to punt again; Isaac Power put too much power into it, being credited with a 56-yard punt that was a touchback.
The Cats marched, helped by a Dillon Doyle getting all of Deuce’s facemask at midfield. The drive ended on a 19-yard touchdown pass to Sinnott, his second of the night, and with less than two minutes to go in the third K-State had built a 24-3 lead.
Baylor went four-and-out, Josh Hayes stoning Monaray Baldwin on a fourth down completion and giving K-State the ball at the Baylor 20. Two Baylor penalties pushed the Wildcats to the three, and two plays later Giddens scored to make it 31-3.
Baylor actually drove after that, but K-State forced a fourth down at their own 20 and Shapen threw an incompletion; even with 12 minutes to go, that effectively ended the contest. On Baylor’s next drive, Shapen threw a pick to Drake Cheatham, who danced around to eat another five seconds off the clock, and then a fight almost broke out when a Micah Mazzccua tried to start a fight with Felix Anudike-Uzomah.
K-State outgained Baylor 405-306, and a good chunk of Baylor’s yardage came in garbage time. The Cats ran for 184 and threw for 221; the defense held Baylor to 103 yards on the ground and 203 in the air.
Howard was 19-27 for 196 yards and three touchdowns, while Martines was 7-8 for 25. Vaughn had 106 yards on 25 carries, plus 50 yards and a touchdown on eight receptions. Giddens added 58 yards on 13 carries plus a catch for 11 yards. Sinnott led the team with 89 yards, catching seven passes for two scores. Kade Warner added four catches for 26, while Malik Knowles had three for 18 and Brooks had two for 17.
The Cats had two interceptions against no turnovers, and four penalties for 23 yards; Baylor was flagged six times for 50. The Cats won time of possession with an absurd 37:37, including burning 11 minutes in the final quarter after taking a 28-point lead.
What We Learned
1) It’s time to just give Howard the keys.
We get it, he wanted to preserve his redshirt for the year. But as the putative starter next year already, it’s entirely possible he’ll be draftable at the end of the 2023 season if he keeps this development going.
If you don’t just start Howard now, you’re in a position where if Martinez gets hurt again, Howard will use his fourth game... and after that, you have to rely on Jake Rubley as the backup to retain Howard’s redshirt.
Meanwhile, Howard may just lead this team to the Sugar Bowl if he stays under center.
Just do it. It’s not really fair to Martinez, but if he’s the leader he appears to be he’ll understand. This isn’t about him; we’ll always appreciate what he did here and the excitement he brought early in the season. He’ll be EMAW forever in this space.
2) Ben Sinnott, good lord.
Sinnott was the star of the game. We can’t even express to you how well he played even taking into account the stats. His second touchdown catch was just ridiculous, and his chemistry with Howard was obvious. Plus, the blocking.
Drew has begun calling him Gronk Jr. Jr.
3) The defense, when fully healthy, is just absurd.
Baylor only gained 211 yards before garbage time ensued. Daniel Green was out there killing men. Josh Hayes was a blanket in coverage. Austin Moore may actually be the best player on this defense, and he’s on the field with Anudike-Uzomah and Julius Brents and Ekow Boye-Doe.
I mean, come on. Savage was gone for the entire second half and the defense still had Baylor on lockdown.
4) Ty Zentner should’ve just been the kicker all along, it turns out.
Since taking over, Zentner is 4-4 on field goals and 9-9 on extra points.
5) Let’s not leave Collin Klein out of this.
Klein called a near-perfect game. There was only one call the whole game which seemed to cause any head-scratching, but it wasn’t a bad call; it was the handoff to Vaughn which got stopped for no gain and led to the field goal to go up 10-0, and that wasn’t the fault of the play call. The blocking was there and if Baylor hadn’t blitzed, Vaughn would have gone for six.
Nah, the offense is fine, and this railing on Klein everyone seems to want to do after a loss where K-State gains 400 yards needs to stop.
Players of the Game
As great as Howard and Vaughn were tonight, we’re still handing it to Sinnott on offense. On defense, Daniel Green showed up to play tonight, and punished the Baylor offense at every opportunity.
A trip to Morgantown, in which a win will clinch at least a tie for second place in the conference.