1. Effectiveness At Wide Receiver: While the scuttlebutt contends that Tyler Lockett is out for this game and Tramaine Thompson is highly questionable, my concern isn’t that they play, but how effective the starting receivers are – I don’t want Lockett in the game if he’s only at 50 percent. The question is how effective the unit is regardless of who starts, because even if we see a whole lot of Daniel Sams and John Hubert on Saturday, someone is going to need to be open to catch the ball on third down conversions. Interesting side note: Thompson and Lockett are obviously the best playmakers at the position, but are both small guys. With Curry Sexton and Kyle Klein taking on more prominent roles, these bigger receivers could provide better blocking when engaging safeties to support the run game.
2. Turnovers: This has been one of the worst aspects of K-State football this year. The Wildcats actually held Oklahoma State to under 400 yards last week – only one other team has done that to the Cowboys in the past 30 games. However, the turnovers (including on three straight drives) killed the team’s chances. Through four games Baylor is +3 in turnover margin. K-State is 121st out of 123 teams in the NCAA with -9.
3. Penalties: Speaking of playing unSnyder-like football, this team has been a penalty magnet this year. And I can whine about some of the turnovers being bad luck or bad officiating, but the Wildcats are earning the penalty yardage they’ve been getting hit with. K-State had 12 last week for 92 yards. Baylor is going to pick up enough yardage on its own – it doesn’t need the charity of another 100 yards to boot. That’s worth a touchdown by itself.
4. Can the Crowd Rattle Bryce Petty?: The greatest glimmer of hope for K-State has to be Baylor’s ineffectiveness on the road the past three seasons. Maybe this team is finally good enough to win regardless of the venue, but this will be Petty’s first game outside of Waco. If the crowd is loud and rowdy, the Bears’ offense will be forced to slow down to ensure plays are communicated correctly and hopefully a false start or delay of game penalty or two can be forced.
5. The Fourth Quarter: Baylor’s starters at the skill positions haven’t seen it yet this year. Art Briles respects Bill Snyder too much to go for an embarrassing margin of victory. The question is whether K-State make this the first game Baylor must worry about the final outcome. I say yes.