The dust has settled and Baylor has cropped up at number 12 in the AP Poll this year following a 35-25 victory at K-State. The game was significant – Baylor’s quarterback Bryce Petty hadn’t taken a snap in the fourth quarter this year and the offense had set a record by scoring at least 70 points in three straight games. Yet K-State entered the fourth quarter leading the game 25-21, largely dominated the line of scrimmage, and came up just short in a game many didn’t expect the Wildcats to be competitive in. Let’s revisit the five things The Jug was watching during the game:
1. Effectiveness At Wide Receiver: As expected, Tyler Lockett and Tramaine Thompson did not play, which greatly hurt K-State’s explosive potential and Baylor’s defensive scheme. Curry Sexton led the team with 50 yards on three catches. The team averaged 11.8 yards per catch on the day (not bad!), but the passing game was limited as Daniel Sams and Jake Waters combined for just 118 yards passing. Whenever Sams got around the edge there seemed to be a lot of daylight for him on the field – an indication that the blocking by the receivers was solid all day long.
2. Turnovers: K-State was the third worst team in this department entering the game – the Wildcats were 121st in the country with a turnover margin of -9. Baylor was +3. Yet K-State forced a fumble (a beautiful sack/strip by Ryan Mueller) and threw just one interception for the first time this year. That equalled a net zero turnovers on the day. You probably need to go +1 to beat Baylor, but this was one of the greatest areas of improvement from prior weeks.
3. Penalties: Oh how sweet it is to play at home. While the crowd was loud and bothered Petty all day, K-State played one of its most disciplined games this year. There was a bad personal foul early in the game that gave Baylor a first down when the Bears would have otherwise faced 4th-and-11, but Baylor had six penalties for 45 yards while K-State only had four for 37. Much improved.
4. Can the Crowd Rattle Bryce Petty?: Yes. Absolutely it can. My biggest reason for believing K-State could pull the upset was the discrepancy between Baylor’s home and away records the past few years. Baylor won. They were the better team. But the 52,803 people in attendance didn’t make it easy.
5. The Fourth Quarter: Ah, the dreaded fourth quarter. After scoring 15 straight after halftime to take the lead, K-State was outscored 14-0 in the fourth quarter. Baylor had four possessions in the period. The first was to start the fourth, when the Bears were pretty much in scoring position already and snatched a touchdown to retake the lead. K-State then had a beautiful stand, allowing -3 yards on three plays to force a punt, but also allowed another touchdown when Daniel Sams was intercepted. It was the interception that decided the game. At that point, K-State was down just three points and had five minutes to drive the field and score. That’s a position Snyder loves to be in, but not this year. Notably, Jack Cantele also missed a 41-yard field goal in the fourth that would have tied the game at 28.