Bears prep for Big 12 title game with road date against improving Jayhawks
The Baylor Bears clinched their spot in the Big 12 Championship Game last week by beating Texas 24-10. The Bears also kept their College Football Playoff hopes alive, having improved to 10-1 overall and 7-1 in league play ahead of this week's game against the Kansas Jayhawks.
Kansas dropped to 3-8 overall and 1-7 in Big 12 action by losing to Iowa State 41-31 last week. Though the record is disappointing, the team has shown improvement under first-year head coach Les Miles. And a win over a highly ranked Baylor squad would be the perfect springboard to 2020.
Baylor at Kansas
Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 30, at 3:30 p.m. ET
Spread: Baylor -14.5
When Baylor Has the Ball
Baylor quarterback Charlie Brewer has started all 11 games for the Bears this season and has completed 66.6 percent of his passes for 2,753 yards and 19 touchdowns with five interceptions. Brewer has also gained 351 rushing yards, which ranks third on the team, and he leads the Bears with 10 rushing touchdowns.
However, Brewer left the game early in the fourth quarter last week following a hard hit, and he did not return. If Brewer is not healthy enough to play against Kansas, redshirt freshman Gerry Bohanon will make his first career start. Bohanon is an explosive runner and ranks fourth on the team with 215 rushing yards on just 26 attempts — an eye-popping 8.27 yards per carry. In seven appearances this year, Bohanon has completed 11-of-17 pass attempts for 111 yards and one touchdown without an interception.
John Lovett and JaMycal Hasty have shared carries at running back for Baylor this season. Lovett leads the team with 588 rushing yards and ranks second to Brewer with five touchdowns. Hasty is close behind with 510 rushing yards and four TDs. Both players have averaged more than 6.0 yards per carry this year.
At receiver, senior Denzel Mims leads the way with 57 receptions, 892 yards and 11 touchdowns. A pair of sophomores, Tyquan Thornton and R.J. Sneed, have emerged as the top complements to Mims. Thornton has caught 35 passes for 613 yards and three touchdowns. Snead has recorded 36 receptions for 407 yards and has also scored three times.
When Kansas Has the Ball
Kansas quarterback Carter Stanley has completed 61.7 percent of his passes for 2,569 yards and 24 touchdowns with eight interceptions across 11 starts this season. Stanley, a senior, has averaged 7.4 yards per pass attempt, primarily throwing to a pair of productive junior wideouts, Andrew Parchment and Stephon Robinson Jr. Parchment leads the Jayhawks with 60 receptions and 788 yards, and he has caught six touchdown passes. Robinson leads the team with eight TD grabs and ranks second with 45 catches and 727 receiving yards.
Though the Kansas offense is centered on the passing attack, running back Pooka Williams Jr. ranks third in the Big 12 in rushing (94.5 yards per game). Williams sat out the first game of the season due to suspension, but he has gained 945 rushing yards and scored three touchdowns in 10 appearances. Second-leading rusher Khalil Herbert (384 yards, 2 TDs) left the team after four games with the intent to transfer, leaving freshman Velton Gardner (132, 2) as Williams’ backup.
The transition from an old coaching staff to a new one is often difficult. Remember, Baylor was 1-11 in Matt Rhule’s first season in 2017. Les Miles, who has already matched the highest season win total for Kansas teams coached by David Beaty, Charlie Weis and Turner Gill, has built a solid foundation for the Jayhawks moving forward. If he were able to lead Kansas to an upset victory over conference title-contending Baylor, it would mark the most wins for a KU squad since 2009.
Despite close calls against West Virginia and TCU, and a heartbreaking loss to Oklahoma two weeks ago, Baylor has earned its 10-1 record and its spot in the College Football Playoff conversation. The Bears have made huge strides under Rhule and hold a heavy talent advantage on both sides of the football. Kansas will put up a fight, but Baylor should prevail.
Prediction: Baylor 32, Kansas 13