Two teams coming off tough losses look to get right
The Kansas State Wildcats and Baylor Bears will face off in Waco this weekend in a game between two teams that aren't feeling great about themselves at the moment. The Wildcats are coming off a 45-0 loss at the hands of Iowa State — their third straight loss — while the Bears have dropped five straight games and have just one win on the season.
At this point, Kansas State is mostly just jockeying for bowl position, although the Wildcats still have an outside shot at making it to the Big 12 Championship Game with a little help. Baylor, on the other hand, is playing for pride in its first season under head coach Dave Aranda.
Kansas State at Baylor
Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 28 at 6 p.m. ET
Spread: Baylor -5.5
When Kansas State Has the Ball
It's going to be back to the basics on offense for the Wildcats. That means establishing dominance in the trenches and getting the rushing attack going early on. That also means that Deuce Vaughn — the team's best offensive player — needs to produce. After firing out of the gate, Vaughn has just 106 combined rushing and receiving yards over the last three games and has not found the end zone during that losing streak. The offense goes as he goes, and regardless of who is taking snaps, head coach Chris Klieman and his staff must find creative ways to get Vaughn touches in order for the offense to establish any rhythm. If Vaughn can't get loose early, it could be a long day for Kansas State.
When Baylor Has the Ball
Despite the poor season Baylor is having, the Bears do have a future NFL signal-caller in Charlie Brewer at the helm. Brewer can be effective — if he gets protection. Unfortunately for the Bears, that has not been the case in 2020, as the senior quarterback has been sacked 17 times. Expect Kansas State to test Baylor's pass protection early. If the Wildcats know they can get to Brewer, things are going to get dicey. Ideally, Baylor can hit on some explosive plays in the passing game early on, which would both alleviate the Kansas State pass rush and open things up in the run game. Regardless of the Bears' record, if the Baylor passing attack is clicking, Kansas State is going to have a tough time keeping up.
Chris Klieman is not used to losing. He's not used to losing three games in a row, and he's never been beaten as badly as he was a week ago. One of two things will happen in practice this week: He'll either get his team focused on the outside shot they still have at a Big 12 Championship, or the team will have decided to mail it in on the season. I'm siding with history and the Kansas State coaching staff. I believe they can fix this thing. Look for a gameplan to wear down Baylor with the rushing attack and to go after Charlie Brewer as often as possible on obvious passing downs. Baylor has the firepower to play from behind, so Kansas State can't let up. It should be close, but look for the Wildcats to get back in the win column.
Prediction: Kansas State 27, Baylor 24
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— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. His work has appeared on SI.com, FoxSports.com, Yahoo!, SBNation, USA Today and Bleacher Report. He is a three-time FWAA writing contest award winner. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.