I’m not sure the shock ofKansas State’s 52-24 loss to Baylor on Saturday night in Waco, Texas, has worn off for K-Staters yet. I’m not sure it will.
I watched every snap of the game and couldn’t believe what was happening. My thought was that Baylor would score points against the K-State defense. I predicted 35. But the way the Bears did it – utilizing an improving and dangerous running game – surprised me. And I thought the Kansas State offense would win by outscoring Baylor. That didn’t happen, did it? In fact, the Wildcats’ offense was stuck for much of the game.
So how did this strange turn of events come about?
I’m going to give most of the credit to Baylor’s running game and to the growing diversity of the Bears’ offense.
Through Baylor’s first seven games, the passing yardage more than doubled the rushing yardage – 2,780 to 1,216. The Bears were having some success on the ground, but it was clear that their coach, Art Briles, wanted to sling the ball through the air.
In the past three games, though, Baylor has rushed for 893 yards while passing for just 777. There have been 11 rushing touchdowns compared to eight through the air. Baylor quarterback Nick Florence is still a dangerous weapon. But the Bears are a different offense since the emergence of Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin, who combined to gain 298 yards on 38 carries against Kansas State.
K-State hadn’t allowed two 100-plus-yard rushers in the same game since 2010, when Taylor Martinez (241) and Roy Helu Jr. (110) both went into triple digits for Nebraska in a Huskers blowout win. K-State had allowed only one 100-yard rusher – Kansas’ James Sims – this season before the Baylor double-whammy.
A Kansas State defense that had held up so well against the run all season collapsed against the pressure of Baylor’s hurry-up offense. Clearly, the Bears wore down K-State by plugging away with one quick hit after another.
But Baylor’s success running the football was just a part of the 28-point blowout.
Kansas State has stopped running the ball, at least effectively.
In the past two games, against TCU and Baylor, the Wildcats have averaged only 95.5 rushing yards per game. Through the first nine games, K-State averaged nearly 225 yards rushing.
And then there’s the play of senior quarterback Collin Klein, who is still in the discussion – as he should be – for the Heisman Trophy.
But Klein clearly has not been the same quarterback in games against TCU and Baylor, in which he has been intercepted four times and sacked five times. In the previous nine games, Klein threw only two interceptions and was sacked just seven times.
Klein has suffered his two lowest efficiency-rating performances the past two weeks. Protected so well by his offensive line for much of the season, Klein has been under siege by TCU and Baylor. K-State’s line play has deteriorated sharply and Klein has not thrown the ball with as much zip since leaving the Oklahoma State game with an undisclosed injury in the third quarter.
Outside of a nifty 34-yard touchdown run in the third quarter of the TCU game, Klein hasn’t been as effective running the football, either.
And, of course, Kansas State has been bitten by the injury bug after remaining relatively healthy through the first eight or nine games of the season. We’re not sure how much injuries are a factor in Klein’s so-so performances the past couple of weeks. One of his favorite receiving targets, Tyler Lockett, was nowhere near full speed for the Baylor game. And something might be wrong with running back John Hubert, who has given way to Angelo Pease often in the past three weeks.
Defensively, injuries to Tre Walker and Ty Zimmerman have been difficult while a few other K-State players try to play through the pain as the Wildcats’ lack of depth is exposed.
But injuries don’t sufficiently explain the way Baylor manhandled Kansas State. That was a thorough beating of what looked like a team that had hit a wall. Perhaps playing with the pressure of an unbeaten season and a potential place in college football’s national championship game got to Kansas State.
What we know got to Kansas State, though, was an impressive Baylor team that played with a chip on its shoulder and without fear. The Bears were loosey-goosey and reveled in the opportunity.
Thanks for reading. I hope your Thanksgiving week is a great one.