What a difference a year can make leading up to a game. Last season, the Kansas State Wildcats sat at number 1 in the country and undefeated, headed to Waco to challenge the Baylor Bears. Things got ugly and the sleeping giant that was the Baylor offense awoke and upset the Kansas State faithful, thus ruining their National Championship dreams. Fast forward a year later, as the Baylor Bears come travel to Manhattan, undefeated and ranked 15th, while the Kansas State Wildcats limp into the match up at 2-3. My early season predictions had Kansas State at 3-2 at this point, and taking a stand for last year’s upset. Things looked much different in August than they do this week in October.
Baylor has been impressive the first few weeks of the season; actually impressive is an understatement. The Bears (4-0) have put up video game type numbers, averaging 779.5 yards per game while scoring 70.5 points per game. No, those are not typos; Baylor has averaged scoring 70.5 points per game. They have an incredibly balanced attack, averaging 432.3 yard passing and 347.3 yards rushing. Junior Quarterback Bryce Petty leads in the league in passing efficiency at 229.6, miles ahead of second place (156.3 David Ash). He has thrown for 1,348 yards with 10 TD’s and only 1 interception, while not playing late into games due to blowouts. Lache Seastrunk leads the league in rushing with 589 yards, over a hundred yards ahead of second place (480 Charles Sims, West Virginia). He has rushed over the 100 yard mark in 8 straight games, and scored a touchdown in 6 straight. Oh and by the way, he is averaging 11.1 yards per carry currently. Receiver Antwan Goodley leads the league in receiving yardage at 540 (KSU’s Tyler Lockett is second at 475 yards).
The Baylor Bears demolished the West Virginia Mountaineers last weekend 73-42. The game wasn’t even as close as the score somewhat seemed – the halftime score was 48-14. The Bears offense broke the Big 12 record for total offense in a game with 864 yards. And the Baylor defense, under former Kansas State coordinator Phil Bennett, has only allowed 16.2 points per game, mind you in blowout games, where teams are much more apt to throw every down. So how can the Wildcats hope to slow or even stop this prolific offense? This week’s key match up isn’t a position but more of the intangibles: turnovers and penalties.
Last weekend, Kansas State lost to Oklahoma State by a score of 29 to 33. The Cats hung in with the Cowboys in Stillwater till the very end. What may have been one of the key’s to losing this and honestly other games this season? Playing un-Bill Snyder football. The Wildcats turned the ball over 5 times and had 12 penalties for 92 yards; you can’t win football games with stats like that. During the course of an early 1st quarter drive, the Cats offense was called twice for false starts, very uncharacteristic of previous Kansas State teams. As big of a problem as penalties were last week, the Cats do sit at 2nd in the league with 46 yards per game penalized. But Kansas State is ranked 9th in league with opponent penalties, only averaging 31.6 yards gained weekly by opponent errors. Turnovers have been a problem for the Cats this past year. Kansas State is dead last in turnover margin for the Big 12, losing the turnover battle by an average of -1.80 per game. The only other team with a negative turnover margin in the league? Kansas, with -.5. The Wildcats have turned the ball over 14 times in 5 games (6 fumbles, 8 interceptions). Kansas State will have to play mistake free to keep this game with Baylor close. If possible, the Cats can score points, but will be enough to keep up?