The No. 6 ranked Baylor Bears host the No. 9 Kansas State Wildcats on Saturday, with a co-share of the Big 12 championship on the line.
While oddsmakers have unanimously selected Art Briles’ Bears to win, I feel like counting the Wildcats out so prematurely will only make them play with intensified ferocity, knowing what’s at stake for Baylor.
Since the Bears hired publicist Kevin Sullivan Communications last week in an effort to bolster a media campaign showing why Baylor deserves be above TCU, the dialogue has amplified Baylor’s feeling of disrespect among the selection committee.
Despite playing a tougher schedule than TCU (and beating TCU), Baylor barely hung on against Texas Tech last weekend. And due to a few unfortunate play calls Red Raiders’ head coach Kliff Kingsbury would like to have back, the Bears won, 48-46. With that said, Kansas State is a ranked, and you know who the Horned Frogs are rooting for.
Baylor is ranked No. 1 in the nation in points per game, and 40th in points allowed per game. With a defense that has held offenses to an average of just 23.9 points versus a Kansas State offense that averages 36.6 points per game, KSU quarterback Jake Waters and his receiving corps should be able to avoid the rush and get their offense established in an evenly distributed matchup.
Waters’ key target will be senior wide receiver Tyler Lockett, who has recorded 79 receptions for 1,1983 yards and eight touchdowns on the year.
ESPN’s Chris Fowler reported late Thursday night that Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty had been cleared from the concussion he sustained against Texas Tech last weekend, and that he was “100 percent ready” for this game.
With Baylor ranked sixth in the nation in passing, and averaging an astounding 340.2 yards per game through the air, expect Petty to let it loose for his finale at McLane Stadium in Waco, Tex.
While I see this game decided by a touchdown or less, if Baylor wins, they will share the conference’s co-championship with TCU. Next to Bedlam, this is the game to watch on Saturday if you’re a Big 12 football fan.
*Section Photo credit to Brett Deering, Getty Images; Featured Photo (above) credit to Scott Sewell, USA Today Sports.