Aside from the best head coach in Baylor history getting canned earlier this season, the Bears suffered a probation-like level of attrition in the wake of a sexual assault scandal that engulfed the program. As the season has worn on, the personnel hits have started taking their toll on the team’s performance. They’ve lost three straight games and have a realistic shot at finishing the season on a six-game losing streak.
Whatever happens in the next three games, the Bears will have to do it without quarterback Seth Russell, who suffered a severe leg injury last week against Oklahoma.
If all that’s not enough, Kansas State’s wizard in residence, Bill Snyder, had an extra week to prepare for this game. The Wildcats will look to make Baylor their bowl-clinching sixth win of the year.
Kansas State at Baylor
Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 19 at 12 p.m. ET
TV Channel: ESPN2
Spread: Kansas State -2.5
1. Has Baylor Quit?
Baylor has the equivalent of a substitute teacher for a head coach. The assistants will all be looking for new jobs in a couple of weeks. The starting quarterback may never play football again. The school’s all-time rushing leader sat out last week with attitude issues.
None of that sounds like a functional team at the moment.
2. Keeping it Simple for Zach Smith
Even though he didn’t look ready to be the man, the Bears’ second-string quarterback made a few nice throws in relief of Russell against Oklahoma. However, offensive coordinator Kendal Briles can’t load the freshman down with too much against the crafty Wildcats, who will have a game plan in place intended to keep Smith confused.
3. Finding a Threat for KSU at Receiver
The Wildcats have thrown a grand total of eight touchdown passes this season. They’re gaining a measly 6.1 yards per throw. This facet of the offense isn’t keeping defensive coordinators up at night.
After nine games, if Bill Snyder hasn’t found reliable contributors out wide yet, he likely won’t this year.
Setting aside the fact that these teams are playing in Waco, nothing about this matchup bodes well for Baylor. The Bears’ season is setting up as an epic limp to the finish line.
Kansas State’s patience on offense and flexible defense also present a challenge for a team that prefers to keep things moving.
The Wildcats’ style of play precludes the possibility of a blowout win (or loss). More likely, they will wear down a frustrated Baylor squad with their running game and a defense that won’t allow BU wideouts Ishmael Zamora and KD Cannon to get behind them.
Meanwhile, at the contest’s conclusion, the Bears will be able to take solace in the fact that they are one game closer to playing out the string.
Prediction: Kansas State 30, Baylor 24
— Written by Allen Kenney, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Kenney is founder and editor of BlatantHomerism.com and host of the Blatant Homerism Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @BlatantHomerism.