The Kansas State Wildcats once again travel to the state of Texas, this time to face off against the Baylor Bears. A win in Waco would earn K-State it’s second ever Big 12 championship in football and lock up a BCS bowl berth. The Wildcats also carry with it the No. 1 ranking in the BCS, so a victory would keep the unbelievable national championship dream alive.
Baylor is sitting second to last in the conference, but will not be a simple team to beat. Recently the K-State/Baylor games have gone down to the wire. Last season, Baylor brought their eventual Heisman Trophy winner into Manhattan and came up just short losing 37-35. In 2010, K-State came up short in Waco losing 47-42. This time K-State will not have to face Robert Griffin III, but the offense is still a powerhouse.
Coaching the defense for the Bears is former Kansas State defensive coordinator Phil Bennett. His defense at Baylor has struggled mightily this season, but he does know Bill Snyder and will know how to prepare for this game. Although Baylor is not a highly ranked opponent compared to some of the teams that K-State has played recently, it’s still a very talented opponent fighting for bowl eligibility. The Wildcats will look to overcome the pressures of being the hunted by beating Baylor in Waco for the first time since 2002 tonight at 7 PM Central time on ESPN.
A Look at the Bears
Last season the Baylor offense broke all sorts of school records. They really haven’t slowed down that much from last season. Now Nick Florence is no Robert Griffin III, but he does have just as many targets, and an impressive arm. The Baylor offense has averaged 42.7 points per game, and a very impressive 564 yards per game (196.3 on the ground, and 367.7 through the air). They have been very balanced quarter through quarter in scoring. They score 86 points in the first quarter, 96 in the second, 101 in the third, and 101 in the first quarter.
Quarterback – SR QB Nick Florence had big shoes to fill when replacing the legendary Robert Griffin III. He has done well passing for 3191 yards on the season for 25 touchdowns and only 11 interceptions. He has also been successful on the ground rushing for 362 yards and 6 touchdowns. Florence was the starter at Baylor as a freshman when RG3 went down with an injury. He passed for 1786 yards that season. To stop Florence you have to put pressure on him and keep him in the pocket.
Running Backs – Baylor lost a very talented running back in Terrence Ganaway last season. They were able to successfully replace him with a trio of talented running backs, with the starter being SR Jarred Salubi. This season Salubi has rushed for 440 yards and three touchdowns. The original starter was JR Glasco Martin who has been successful rushing for 528 yards and 6 touchdowns. Now turning heads in the backfield is Oregon Transfer Lache Seastrunk. Last week against a stingy Oklahoma defense he rushed for 91 yards on 15 carries (6.1 ypc) and 3 touchdowns. On the season he has 375 yards rushing and 6 touchdowns. Baylor is full of depth at the HB position and can really drain defenses with them.
Receivers/Tight Ends – Another position where Baylor lost a key player, and have not missed a beat. One of the nation’s leading receivers Terrence Williams has played lights out this season. The SR already has 1431 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns. The other starting receiver for the bears is SR Lanear Sampson. So far on the season Sampson has 41 catches for 505 yards and 5 touchdowns. Two other receiving threats for Baylor is JR WR Tevin Reese (37 catches 682 yards, 6 touchdowns), and SO WR Levi Norwood (25 catches 308 yards). The starting TE is JR Jordan Najvar only has 8 catches on the season but 2 touchdowns.
Offensive Line – There is not a single offensive lineman on Baylor that is shorter than 6’4 or less than 300 lbs. On the left side of the line is FR LT Spencer Drango (6’6 310 lbs), and JR LG Cyril Richardson (6’5 335 lbs). The center for Baylor is a very experienced player in SR Ivory Wade (6’4 310 lbs). Wade has started for 3 seasons at Baylor and was a freshman All-American. On the right side of the line is SO RT Troy Baker (6’6 300 lbs), and SR RG Cameron Kaufhold (6’4 310 lbs) who has started for two seasons.
Baylor’s defense has been a terrible this season. In terms of yards per game they are ranked 120th out of 120. However, they have had some success getting to the QB, and they have a defensive coordinator who knows Bill Snyder very well. They, like TCU, run a 4-2-5 defense which did give Kansas State some problems. But that being said, comparing TCU’s defensive line to Baylor is an insult to TCU.
Defensive Line – Baylor has an experienced defensive line. At the end positions are JR’s Chris McAllister (31 tackles, 5 for loss, 3 sacks), and Terrence Lloyd (39 tackles, 6 for loss, and 3 sacks). The defensive tackles are a pair of SR’s in Nick Johnson (16 tackles 1 for loss), and Gary Mason JR (20 tackles, 5 for loss, and 1 sack). As a unit the defensive ends have played fairly well, but the opponents have been able to run up the gut fairly easily. This makes for a major advantage for Kansas State, who has one of the best offensive lines in the nation.
Linebackers – Baylor starts JR Eddie Lackey (71 tackles, 8 for loss, 1 sack) at weak side linebacker and Bryce Hagar (89 tackles, 7 for loss, and 2 sacks) at middle linebacker. Hagar leads the team in tackles, and Lackey is third on the team. Together they make up the key run stoppers on the team.
Secondary – The secondary is an experienced unit in terms of age. They are made up of 3 JR’s in NB Ahmad Dixon (78 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 2 interceptions), Sam Holl (65 tackles, 1 for loss, 1 interception), and Joe Williams (32 tackles, 1 for loss, and 1 interception). The two SR’s are Chance Casey (53 tackles, 1 for loss), and Mike Hicks (41 tackles, 1 interception). They will have to bring their a game to compete with the depth K-State has at WR (presuming Tyler Lockett is healthy as Curry Sexton (#4 on depth chart) is out for the season with a broken collarbone).
Baylor has struggled in the special teams this season. At kicker JR Aaron Jones is 12-18 on the season, but is 45-45 on extra points (missed 3 last season). They have had success in the punting game with SO Spencer Ross (44.2 average on 20 punts, including 8 50+ yard punts, and 10 inside the 20). As a team they only have 90 yards on punt returns (one of their returns was for 45 yards), and have not had a kick return longer than 28 yards (19.7 yards per kickoff return as a team).
Baylor has an elite offense, and there is no question about it. They can run the ball and pass the ball as well as anyone in the country. But they very well may have the worst defense of any defense in a BCS conference (other than maybe Colorado in the Pac 12). They have an average special teams unit compared to some of the teams in the big 12.
Even with a couple of crucial injuries, K-State should win this game, and win it pretty handedly! I think K-State will establish the run early, and develop a strong passing attack towards the 2nd or 3rd quarter. Baylor will match blow for blow for a while, but will wear down eventually.
The K-State secondary will really need to step up with Ty Zimmerman being injured, but luckily for K-State a RS SR will be starting in his place in Thomas Ferguson. In the end K-State will walk out as the Big 12 champions, and will face Texas for the right to play in the national championship – words I have only dreamed of saying my entire life. Enjoy it Kansas State fans, and be proud of this incredible team.
K-State wins 55-27
On the year: Brandon 49-9, Deante 45-13, Jordan 43-15, Paul 47-11
|Brandon Starkey||DeAnte Mitchell||Jordan Bayless||Paul Badke|
|TECH @ OK ST||OK ST 42-24||OK ST 42-31||OK ST 35-20||OK ST 45-34|
|OU @ WVU||OU 38-28||OU 34-17||OU 45-21||OU 45-35|
|ISU @ KU||ISU 26-20||ISU 28-17||KU 17-14||KU 24-20|
|KSU @ BAY||KSU 55-27||KSU 38-14||KSU 49-24||KSU 40-31|