Breaking Down Baylor

The Baylor Bears hope to become bowl-eligible Saturday when they take on the Kansas State Wildcats at 2:30 at Floyd Casey Stadium in Waco. Come inside to see the breakdown of the 5-2 Baylor football team.

INSIDE SLANT

The Bears are close to accomplishing a goal they haven't reached in a very long time.

With Saturday's 31-25 win at Colorado, Baylor is 5-2 overall for the first time since 1995. The five wins also tie the most by Baylor in the Big 12 Conference era, matching its total from a 5-6 season in 2005.

More important, Baylor is now just one win shy of its season-long goal of becoming bowl eligible for the first time since 1994. "(Wins) are all big, but I think this one kind of sets apart a little bit," Baylor coach Art Briles said. "Really, for getting victory number five, we haven't done that the past couple years.

"It sets us up on a different playing field, and we need to take advantage of where we're at. It wasn't a gift, we had to fight hard and earn every bit of it. I'm very proud of the resiliency that our players showed in the game."

The Bears can earn bowl eligibility with a victory during their homecoming game against Kansas State this week.

For the third consecutive game, Baylor had no problems moving the ball. Even in the rarified air of Colorado, the Bears were able to rush for 309 yards on 35 carries en route to piling up 543 total yards.

Most of the damage was done by tailback Jay Finley and quarterback Robert Griffin. Finley rushed 14 times for a career-high 143 yards and a touchdown, and Griffin ran 15 times for 137 yards.

But the Bears had to stave off a late rally by Colorado to preserve the win.

The Buffaloes were knocking at the door as they snapped the ball from the Baylor 19 with five seconds remaining. But cornerback Chance Casey knocked down a pass intended for Toney Clemons in the end zone as time expired that enabled the Bears to run merrily off the field with a key victory.

Baylor (2-1 Big 12) took the lead for good at 21-15 late in the third quarter when Finley ran in from the 17 and Griffin dashed for the two-point conversion.

The Bears padded their cushion to 28-18 on a 14-yard scamper by Finley with 9:54 left in the game.

After a 7-yard touchdown reception by Colorado's Scotty McKnight closed the gap to 28-25, Baylor's Aaron Jones booted a 38-yard field goal with two minutes left for the game's final points.

Overall, for Baylor to win a key road game when it committed three turnovers speaks volumes about what Briles has been able to accomplish in his third season as the Bears' coach.

"The impressive thing is that we didn't really play that clean across the board offensively," Briles said. "We had some turnovers, we had some untimely penalties, and I thought our defense kept fighting and kept grinding.

"We were hot enough offensively and ran the ball well enough that we were able to sustain drives and control the football. I think the key to the game was us being able to rush the football."

With Colorado and win No. 5 in their rearview mirror, the Bears already know the key to beating Kansas State and becoming bowl eligible is to not go into the game overconfident.

"It puts a smile on your face," Griffin said of needing just one win to reach their team goal. "But we have to hunker down, make sure we stay consistent with our preparation and go out there and execute like we have been with limiting those mistakes."


NOTES, QUOTES

--The Bears' 309 rushing yards were the most since they rushed for 426 yards against Washington State on Sept. 12, 2008. The yardage by Jay Finley (143) and Robert Griffin (137) also marked the first time since that Washington State game that Baylor had a pair of 100-yard rushers in the same game.

--Aaron Jones nailed a 50-yard field goal as time expired in the first half to bring Baylor within 15-10 of the Buffaloes. The Bears have now converted a field goal as time expired in the first half of four games this year. Jones also kicked 25- and 38-yard field goals, while missing one from 24 yards.

--Through the first seven games, the Bears have spread the wealth, as 18 players have caught at least one pass.

--Before going scoreless in the first period, Baylor had scored in 12 consecutive quarters.

--The Bears are 27-3 since 2001 in games in which they scored at least 30 points.

--Baylor is 6-5 all-time in games played in the state of Colorado.

GAME BALL GOES TO: QB Robert Griffin had yet another all-around game. The sophomore from Copperas Cove, Texas, completed 22 of 27 passes for 234 yards and a touchdown, and he also rushed 15 times for 137 yards.

KEEP AN EYE ON: Baylor's high-powered offense -- The Bears have been extremely difficult to contain. For the third straight game they have totaled more than 500 yards of offense. They had 678 yards against Kansas on Oct. 2, 507 versus Texas Tech on Oct. 9, and 543 yards against Colorado.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It would be a great win for us. We know what the situation is. We are going home, and we're going to have a lot of alumni at the game." -- Safety Byron Landor, referring to this week's important home game against Kansas State.


STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

LOOKING GOOD: Safety Byron Landor had one of his best games of the season. He finished with seven tackles, forced a fumble and also returned his first interception of the season 32 yards.

STILL NEEDS WORK: The Bears admittedly must shore up their defense. Colorado gained 399 yards, including 192 on the ground on 49 attempts.

ROSTER REPORT:

--WR Willie Jefferson was dismissed from the team Oct. 15 for violating team rules.

--CB Cliff Odom returned to action after missing three games with a sprained ankle.

--CB Antareis Bryan was back on the field after missing four games with a pulled hamstring. He finished the game with three tackles.

--DL Terrance Lloyd (knee) has now missed the past three games.


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