With Baylor coming to Manhatten to play Kansas State, Saturday is a pivotal game for both teams. K-State is looking to bounce back from a 14-7 loss at Vanderbilt and prove it still has what it takes to contend for a Big 12 championship. Baylor is coming off its most impressive showing of the season, a 49-41 loss to No. 3 Oklahoma, and the Bears are ready to show they are better than their 0-4 record indicates.
K-State key to success: Run the ball. It will be alarming if Alex Barnes and Justin Silmon don’t put up big rushing numbers in this game. Baylor has the worst run defense in the Big 12, and allowed Oklahoma to rush for 342 yards last week. If the Wildcats have similar success on the ground, they will control the clock and make it hard for the Bears to find a rhythm on offense.
Baylor key to success: Throw for several long touchdowns. That hasn’t been an issue for Baylor quarterback Zach Smith. The Bears’ average touchdown pass this season is 47.6 yards. But he will need to keep hitting big plays against the Wildcats. Methodical drives will give K-State more opportunities to create turnovers.
Baylor player to watch: Sophomore receiver Denzel Mims. Six of his 18 catches have gone for touchdowns this season. He is one of the most productive receivers in the Big 12 and already has 406 receiving yards. Without Chris Platt (done for the season with an injury), expect the Bears to get Mims even more involved.
Key matchup: K-State secondary vs. Baylor receivers. The Wildcats didn’t stop many Big 12 passing attacks last season. Are they up for the challenge this year? We may find out against the Bears. Baylor threw for 463 yards against Oklahoma last week. This will be the toughest test of the young season for D.J. Reed, Duke Shelley, Kendall Adams, Denzel Goolsby and Cre Moore.
Kellis Robinett’s prediction: Kansas State 35, Baylor 21. The Bears are an improving team, but it will be difficult for them to duplicate the success they found last week on the road against K-State. The Wildcats are angry and rested coming off their bye week. This is also a good matchup for them. They should win by double digits.