Scott Sewell-US PRESSWIRE
The departure of Robert Griffin III (pictured above in last year’s game against K-State) had the potential to spell doom for Baylor. In addition to the track star Heisman winner taking his talents to the NFL, receiver Kendall Wright was drafted by the Tennessee Titans and now has 43 receptions 10 weeks into his rookie season. That’s a lot of firepower to lose, but Baylor’s offense has reloaded with a new star quarterback (Nick Florence) and deep threat wide receiver (Terrance Williams). While Florence leads the nation’s second-rated offense, Williams contributes an NCAA-leading 159 receiving yards per game.
On the other hand, Kansas State leads the Big 12 in only allowing 17.7 points per game and brought a shutout into the fourth quarter against TCU until the Horned Frogs kicked a late field goal and then turned an Angelo Pease fumble into a garbage time touchdown. They’re also second in the Big 12 with 14 interceptions, although it is important to note that safety Ty Zimmerman’s status is unknown after leaving last week’s game with an injury to his right leg. Albeit Zimmerman was able to walk to the locker room under without assistance, his availability for Saturday is unknown. Zimmerman’s missing presence against Baylor’s passing attack would not go unnoticed, as the junior is tied for the Big 12 lead with five interceptions and must be accounted for by all quarterbacks – particularly those that chuck it downfield as much as Florence does.
Even if Zimmerman spends the game on the sidelines, K-State will more likely than not record at least one interception as Nick Florence has already thrown 11 this year – a little over one per game. Cornerbacks Nigel Malone and Allen Chapman will still be roaming the backfield, and each has recorded at least one multiple interception game in their career. Additionally, Baylor has given up 15 sacks this year. Assuming defensive ends Adam Davis and Meshak Williams continue creating havoc, the Wildcats have two very appealing options: they can either bring pressure against an already overwhelmed offensive line, or feel secure enough in their front four to drop more defenders into coverage and blanket Baylor’s receivers. Either scenario should force Florence into difficult throws.
At the end of the day, the performance of K-State’s defense will determine the outcome of this game. The Wildcats have an excellent offense and will score against a porous Bears defense. The question is whether the Florence-to-Williams connection will keep Baylor in the game. K-State ranks 8th in the nation in points scored at 42.2. Baylor ranks 7th with 42.7. Baylor isn’t accustomed to gong against a defense this good every week, but if the Wildcats don’t come out firing on all cylinders in the first half – something they’re painfully prone to doing – Baylor is capable of two or three quick scoring strikes that put Kansas State in an early deficit. Although not probable, it’s definitely possible. The Jug still likes the Wildcats by three touchdowns in this game, and envisions a final score of 58-33.