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Baylor vs. Kansas State—Preview/Prediction Thread

Baylor tries to stay undefeated in the State of Kansas this season and correct its recent road woes at the same time.

MATCHUP: #11 Baylor Bears (8-2, 5-2) vs. Kansas State Wildcats (7-3, 4-3)
LOCATION: Manhattan, KS
ODB GAME HUB: Baylor Bears vs. Kansas State Wildcats 2021
OPPONENT’S SB NATION BLOG: Bring on the Cats (BOTC)
BRING ON THE PODCATS WITH MATT WILSON: FROM BOTC.
PODCASTS: OurDailyPodcast | Between Two Bears | SourGrapesPod | Please Bear With Me | Bear Den | SicEm365’s Bear Cast
COLLEGEFOOTBALLDATA.COM TEAM PAGES: Baylor | KSU
WEEKLY PRESS CONFERENCE: KSU
GAME NOTES (INCLUDING DEPTH CHART): Here.
BAYLORBEARS.COM PREVIEW: Here.
SPREAD: KSU -1, O/U 50
TV COVERAGE: FS1, 4:30 PM Saturday
UNIFORM: Green, white, green, white (shoes)?

WEATHER (Manhattan): From WundergroundHigh of 62 degrees in Wildcatland with a game-time temperature of 59 falling to 47 by the end of the game. Very light winds, no precipitation.

Once again I did not get a chance to do my normal First Look post this week, so I’m going to combine some of those elements here.

How Did We Get Here?

Baylor 2021

G Date Time Day School Opponent Conf Pts Opp W L Streak
G Date Time Day School Opponent Conf Pts Opp W L Streak
1 4-Sep-21 7:00 PM Sat Baylor Texas State Sun Belt 29 20 1 0 W 1
2 11-Sep-21 7:00 PM Sat Baylor Texas Southern Non-Major 66 7 2 0 W 2
3 18-Sep-21 3:30 PM Sat Baylor Kansas Big 12 45 7 3 0 W 3
4 25-Sep-21 3:30 PM Sat Baylor (14) Iowa State Big 12 31 29 4 0 W 4
5 2-Oct-21 7:00 PM Sat (21) Baylor (19) Oklahoma State Big 12 14 24 4 1 L 1
6 9-Oct-21 12:00 PM Sat Baylor West Virginia Big 12 45 20 5 1 W 1
7 16-Oct-21 3:30 PM Sat Baylor (19) BYU Ind 38 24 6 1 W 2
8 30-Oct-21 12:00 PM Sat (16) Baylor Texas Big 12 31 24 7 1 W 3
9 6-Nov-21 3:30 PM Sat (14) Baylor Texas Christian Big 12 28 30 7 2 L 1
10 13-Nov-21 12:00 PM Sat (18) Baylor (4) Oklahoma Big 12 27 14 8 2 W 1

I don’t think I need to tell you much about this. The two games we’ve lost this year are to a top-10 Oklahoma State team that looks even better than that ... and that dumb TCU game that I’ll remember for a long time. Baylor is sitting at 8-2 after 10 games, a place you all would have accepted had I offered it to you before the game. Do not lie to me.

KSU 2021

G Date Time Day School Opponent Conf Pts Opp W L Streak
G Date Time Day School Opponent Conf Pts Opp W L Streak
1 4-Sep-21 12:00 PM Sat Kansas State Stanford Pac-12 24 7 1 0 W 1
2 11-Sep-21 7:00 PM Sat Kansas State Southern Illinois Non-Major 31 23 2 0 W 2
3 18-Sep-21 2:00 PM Sat Kansas State Nevada MWC 38 17 3 0 W 3
4 25-Sep-21 7:00 PM Sat (25) Kansas State Oklahoma State Big 12 20 31 3 1 L 1
5 2-Oct-21 3:30 PM Sat Kansas State (6) Oklahoma Big 12 31 37 3 2 L 2
6 16-Oct-21 7:30 PM Sat Kansas State Iowa State Big 12 20 33 3 3 L 3
7 23-Oct-21 12:00 PM Sat Kansas State Texas Tech Big 12 25 24 4 3 W 1
8 30-Oct-21 3:30 PM Sat Kansas State Texas Christian Big 12 31 12 5 3 W 2
9 6-Nov-21 12:00 PM Sat Kansas State Kansas Big 12 35 10 6 3 W 3
10 13-Nov-21 12:00 PM Sat Kansas State West Virginia Big 12 34 17 7 3 W 4

Did you realize KSU is 7-3, and their only losses this season are to Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, and Iowa State, probably 3 of the top 4 teams in the conference? It’s true. Kansas State is good, as you’ll see below. And they are favored in this game now. We’ll come back to this.

Advanced Stats Overview:

Baylor vs. KSU (F+)

Rk Team F+ OF+ Rk DF+ Rk FEI Rk SP+ Rk
Rk Team F+ OF+ Rk DF+ Rk FEI Rk SP+ Rk
12 Baylor 1.09 0.85 29 1 15 0.59 14 15.7 13
26 Kansas State 0.88 0.89 25 0.76 25 0.54 19 11.8 30

These two teams look pretty similar, don’t they? FEI has us just 5 spots apart, while SP+ has things a little further than that, but the overall profiles are very similar. Neither has an obvious advantage or disadvantage, though after the Oklahoma game our defensive values have skyrocketed. If all I showed you was this chart, and I told you the game was in Manhattan, you would probably understand a spread of KSU -1. Hopefully that defense shows up again because KSU’s offense is probably a lot better than you would otherwise think.

Baylor vs. KSU (FEI)

Rk Team FEI OFEI Rk DFEI Rk NDE Rk NPD Rk NAY Rk NPP Rk ELS Rk GLS Rk ALS Rk
Rk Team FEI OFEI Rk DFEI Rk NDE Rk NPD Rk NAY Rk NPP Rk ELS Rk GLS Rk ALS Rk
14 Baylor 0.59 0.68 27 0.54 17 0.99 19 0.98 20 0.116 22 1.27 19 1.11 50 2.72 59 4.94 54
19 Kansas State 0.54 0.81 20 0.49 23 1.03 18 0.86 27 0.102 26 1.21 22 1.01 59 2.58 64 4.82 62

At 14 vs. 19 in FEI, this game is eerily similar to last week’s according to FEI, which had OU vs. Baylor at 14 vs. 18. The difference here, again, is how similar the teams are—there are no obvious places to point at and say “that is the thing that will decide this game” as there was last week with OU’s defense and their inability to stop our offense.

Going a little deeper into things like offensive line stats, differences start to appear (and I tried to pull this table down and could not for some reason, sorry). For example, where Baylor is #1 in the country in standard downs sack rate, KSU is 106th. In overall sack rate, Baylor is 11th while Kansas State is 72nd. In opportunity rate (the percentage of carries that gain at least four yards if four yards is available), Baylor is 8th and KSU is 30th, not as big of a gap, but somewhere that Baylor is strong unit vs. unit.

If you go over to CollegeFootballData.com and look at the two teams side-by-side, a couple of things jump out. First, KSU appears to be below-average in explosiveness in the running game despite having strong grades in stuff rate and line yards per rush. That’s not that surprising given their history, and lines up well with our own ability to stop explosive running plays. What might be surprising is their explosiveness in the passing game, which, unfortunately, mirrors our own weakness in that area (exactly, actually, CFD gives them a 1.65 in passing explosiveness on offense and the same to us on defense). If there is a silver lining here it is what I mentioned before, which is that they are susceptible to giving up sacks. All this leads to a somewhat predictable situation that Baylor fans know well—if you rely too much on big plays through the air, have a tendency to give up sacks on standard downs, and can’t get big plays on the ground, you get a lot of busted drives. Voila, Kansas State is 62nd in the country in that stat according to FootballOutsiders.com.

Travis tweeted earlier this week that he expects KSU to throw the ball 40+ times per game, meaning they will essentially try to replicate the TCU gameplan on offense. I think he’s 100% right, and the reality is that they may be able to do that effectively, particularly between the 20s. The key is going to be preventing big plays, if they happen, from turning directly into touchdowns and trying to make those windows as small as possible when they get close to scoring. If Baylor can keep them to field goals, that is an excellent outcome against an efficient offense, particularly if our own can score TDs.

And we should have some opportunities to do so given that, although not bad by any stretch, KSU has the same sort of problems we do in giving up explosive plays, generally. Moreover, they are pretty bad at giving up first downs (75th in first down rate) and generating turnovers (84th in defensive turnover rate). These are not good signs against this Baylor offense, which is well above average in available yards per drive (21st), points per drive (31st), and yards per play (15th).

Players to Know:

  • #22 Deuce Vaughn—Kansas State’s starting RB and leader in rushing yards (179 carries for 975 yards, 5.4 yards/carry), rushing TDs (13), receptions (40), receiving yards (427), and receiving TDs (3). He does everything. You have to be able to stop him to beat Kansas State. In their three losses this year he has under 100 yards rushing in each game, although he did torch OU for 104 yards receiving, and zero TDs on the ground. In their 7 wins, he averages 116 yards on the ground and 1.8 TDs. It’s not hard to see the correlation here. He’s a Doak Walker Semifinalist.
  • #7 Skylar Thompson—Travis calls him the best QB in the Big 12. In terms of QB Rating, ESPN agrees (note: this does not include Caleb Williams due to playing time), though his stats aren’t exactly eye-popping outside of completion percentage (71.6%) and yards passing per attempt (9.6, more than half a yard ahead of #2). It’s the yards/attempt that scares me because it means he’s completing long passes. I wish we had a good depth of target tracker for NCAA, but maybe we do and I just don’t know it.
  • #88 Phillip Brooks—KSU’s tiny (5-7, 167) #2 in receiving yards by just 5 yards (422).
  • #0 Daniel Imatorbhebhe—Listed as the #2 TE on KSU’s latest depth chart, he’s actually the fourth-leading receiver on the team with 9 catches for 274 yards and 2 TDs.
  • #22 Daniel Green—Starting MLB and leading tackler with 63 total tackles, including 9.5 for loss.
  • #91 Felix Anudike-Uzomah—Starting DE and the Big 12 leader in sacks (11). He’s also tied for the lead (with Jalen Pitre) in tackles for loss (14). He’s going to be a problem.
  • #2 Russ Yeast—Starting FS and KSU’s leader in interceptions with 3. That is also tied for the Big 12 lead with 4 other players, including JT Woods.

Prediction Time:

What to do, what to do ... I picked against Baylor last week, saying “I ... do not have a good feeling about this game.” and then they proved me wrong by going up 24-7 before Lincoln scored his meaningless TD and got a FG and two field stormings for his trouble. I came into this thread thinking that I would have to see something from the two teams that made me think Baylor, a team that has not proven it can win on the road against anybody except Kansas (and who loses to Kansas in football???), would go on the road and win against a good team. And I think KSU is a good team that would have been ranked this week but for a lack of respect for the Big 12 as a conference.

I’m going to stick with that. I don’t like this game, even if I think we can get to Skylar Thompson a few times. ISU nearly beat us using Breece Hall a lot like KSU will use Deuce Vaughn, and while Vaughn isn’t Hall, he’s good. We lost to a team two weeks ago that came out and threw it 40 times, and I agree with Travis that KSU will try to do the same. Until I see us win this one, I don’t feel good that it will happen.

KSU 31, Baylor 27.

Poll

Predict the outcome of tomorrow’s Baylor vs. KSU game.

This poll is closed

  • 4%
    Baylor, big (17+)
    (16 votes)
  • 15%
    Baylor, comfortable (11-16)
    (52 votes)
  • 36%
    Baylor, close (4-10)
    (126 votes)
  • 20%
    Baylor, squeak (1-3)
    (71 votes)
  • 7%
    KSU, squeak
    (27 votes)
  • 9%
    KSU, close
    (32 votes)
  • 3%
    KSU, comfortable
    (13 votes)
  • 1%
    KSU, big
    (4 votes)
341 votes total Vote Now

RESULTS OF LAST WEEK’S POLL:

Congrats to the 8 of you that correctly predicted we would beat OU by between 11-16 points!

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