Opponent: Kansas State
Kickoff: November 20th
Location: Bill Snyder Family Stadium (Manhattan, KS)
Conference: Big 12
Head Coach: Chris Klieman (entering third year)
Last Year’s Record: 4-6
Notable Outcomes: Lost to Arkansas State, 35-31; Beat Oklahoma, 38-35; Lost to Baylor 32-31
Key Losses: Wyatt Hubert, DE; Elijah Sullivan, LB; Briley Moore, TE
Strength: Quarterback. Skylar Thompson was one of the best quarterbacks in the Big 12 last season before he was injured. The Wildcats notably suffered after that, losing their last five games in a row. Thompson is only the second quarterback in school history to pass for 5,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards, so the Wildcats should be thrilled that he appears healthy and ready to go. Honorable mention: Deuce Vaughn, who will be one of the best running backs in a Big 12 stacked with elite rushers.
Weakness: Receiver. The Wildcats did not have any explosive playmakers last season. Their leading wide receiver, Chabastin Taylor, had only 293 receiving yards and was injured during spring practice. The Wildcats’ best tight end, Briley Moore, is also gone. So while Thompson is a much needed return, it remains to be seen if he’ll have any worthy targets to throw it to.
Way Too Early Prediction: Baylor did not have a good season last year. Nevertheless, this was one of two games the Bears actually won. However, this should be a much different year for both teams. Barring another injury, Thompson should provide the Wildcats with much needed offensive stability, and the Bears should be looking to improve their offense as well. The key here is that Kansas State’s offense will likely be fairly one dimensional given their receiving woes. Head Coach Dave Aranda is a smart enough defensive mind to be able to game plan for that and likely shut the Kansas State offense down, especially given Baylor’s defensive playmaking ability. I like the Bears here.