Baylor hosts Kansas State

One last game. One last chance to impress 12 Angry People hanging out at the Gaylord Texan. One last chance to win the Big 12 title…again. Baylor versus Kansas State is here.

The Baylor Bears host the Kansas State Wildcats Saturday night at 6:45 on ESPN in front of a national TC audience. With a win, either team will have at least a share of the Big 12 title, depending on what TCU does earlier in the day. With the Bears Playoff dreams still clinging to life and Kansas State hoping to announce themselves to the world with some chaos (and probably quite a bit of help), it doesn’t get much bigger than this for a regular season finale.

MEDIA INFORMATION
Matchup 5/5/7 BAYLOR (10-1, 7-1) vs. 9/9/12 KANSAS STATE (9-2, 7-1)
Date Dec. 6, 2014 | 6:45 p.m. CT
Location Waco, Texas | McLane Stadium (46,140)
TV ESPN
Radio ESPN Central Texas | Sirius 84 | XM 84
Online Audio Listen Online
Live Stats Gametracker
Gameday Info Gameday Central
Game Notes Baylor Notes |Kansas State Notes
Twitter @BUFootball

Fun Stats of the Game

-This one might not be fun for the Bears, but Kansas State in their last 10 games in the regular season as a more than 7 point underdog is 9-1 against the spread and has won 4 of those. The Bears are favored by 8.5.

-Baylor is 25-3 in its last 28 games, tied for nation's 2nd-best mark over that stretch (FSU, 28-0).

-Baylor has the nation's best home record since 2011 at 24-1.

-The Wildcats average 40.2 penalty yards per game (16th best), while Baylor more than double that at 88.5 (2nd worst)

Key Matchups

-Baylor Offensive Line vs. Kansas State Front Seven

The Wildcats front-7 is a very stout unit against the run. They really trust that group to dominate at the line of scrimmage. The Bears offense has simply not been as strong without a good rushing attack, and the Bears offensive line will have to continue their strong play over the last month to make that happen. The Wildcats do not have the biggest defensive line in the country, averaging just 260 pounds and no starters over 300 pounds, but they are agile and are disciplined in plugging their holes and playing sound assignment football. They are also smaller at linebacker with no starter being over 235 pounds and two under 220 pounds. This is small and fast front that plugs the holes and doesn’t let you get big plays.

-Jake Waters vs. Baylor Safeties

Jake Waters is one of the better quarterbacks in the Big 12, with his ability to hurt you through the air or on the ground with his legs. He is the Wildcats second leading rusher, and has had some monster games on the ground. However, he is incredibly accurate inside the hashes and does a good job of hitting his tight ends. The Wildcats have not shown much 4-man wide receiver formations, preferring to have a tight end and even a fullback on the field the majority of the time. With the Baylor safeties not having to line up over the top of wide receivers, they will have to cover those bigger receivers for the Wildcats and compete in a different type of assignment than they was against Texas Tech.

Analytical Breakdown

FEI Rank

14

25

F/+ Rank

11

18

S&P+ Rank

8

24

GE Rank

4

12

Sagarin

8

12

Massey

5

11

RealTime RPI

6

9

Team Rankings Rank

4

13

Average

7.50

16.75

This is easily the toughest matchup the Bears have seen on paper since Oklahoma, and Kansas State, with the Sooners averaging a 7.75 ranking at the time. Kansas State is easily the 3rd best team the Bears have seen this year in this metric, with OU and TCU being the only teams higher. Kansas State is good, and brings a balanced squad with a good offense and a good defense into Waco. The Wildcats have the top scoring defense in the Big 12 right now, but have not had the pleasure of facing the top offense in the Big 12 either (unlike every other school).

According to F/+ and FootballOutsiders.com, the Wildcats have the 24th best offense and the 38th best defense to go along with a really good special teams unit (4th in the nation). Baylor is the 13th best offense, 13th best defense and 33rd best special teams unit. These are two well-rounded teams that happen to play at completely different tempos, but both are capable of moving the ball very effectively on offense and stopping the opposition.

Keys to the Game

1. Win Special Teams – What do you expect from a well-coached team courtesy of Bill Snyder? The Wildcats special teams, outside of some missed field goals against Auburn, has been good to great all year. As said above, F/+ has them as the 4th best special teams unit in the country. The only other team the Bears have played with a special teams outfit as good as that was TCU, and they had a kick return for a touchdown.

The Wildcats are 16th in the nation in kickoff return average (23.79), and have the best punt return average as a team in the country (18.43). Tyler Lockett is a special player in the return game with 2 punt return touchdowns and averaging 21.71 yards per kickoff return (second on the team to Morgan Burns – 31.91 yards with 1 TD).

Kansas State does have a big weakness though, and that is in their punting game. They average just 38.71 yards per punt (104th) and are even worse at defending punt returners (12.56 yards per return – 114th). The Bears will need some big plays from Levi Norwood in the punt return game, something that has been missing this year. This would be a great game, and team to get a punt return touchdown against.

2. Tyler Lockett – I really don’t need to put anything else there do I? Baylor fans remember the last time we saw a top-tier wide receiver with flashbacks of Kevin White dominating Baylor defensive backs for the ball or a flag. The Bears cannot let Lockett do that as well, though he is not as physically as gifted. Lockett is more of a speedster, someone that can take the top off of the defense, and is exceptional with the ball in his hands.

Will the Bears use Xavien Howard or even Ryan Reid in single coverage against Lockett? Will they double him over the top and make someone else beat them, something they have not done all year? Will they play off the line and give Lockett the short stuff and take away the big gains? How the Bears cover Lockett will dictate a lot in this game. The Bears cannot have another “Kevin White” type game, where one player just absolutely kills them. The Wildcats are too well rounded of a team.

3. Home Sweet Home – The Bears have been brilliant at home over the last three seasons, putting up 15 straight wins in Waco, and have not lost at home since October of 2012. With a sold-out crowd and the spotlight of ESPN and College GameDay shining brightly on McLane Stadium, the Bears have a chance to make a big statement to the nation and more importantly, the College Football Playoff Committee. However, the Baylor team can’t get ahead of themselves.

They have to play with the same fire and intensity that we saw early against Oklahoma State, or for almost the entire game against Oklahoma. Let the home crowd give you the energy you need to play a tough and disciplined team that would like nothing better than to remind everyone that they too can win the Big 12 title with a win.

Predictions

Massey Ratings – Bears win 38-34

RealTime RPI – Bears win 45-34

TeamRankings.com – Bears win 37-30

Staff Predictions COMING SOON!


Bears Illustrated Top Stories