Here is everything you need to know about the upcoming Big 12 game in Manhattan in our Kansas State vs. Baylor preview and prediction.
Date: September 30th, 2017 | 2:30 p.m. CT | Bill Snyder Family Stadium
TV: ESPN2 | Beth Mowins (Play-by-Play) Anthony Becht (Analyst) Rocky Boiman (Field Analyst)
Radio: Kansas State Sports Network | Wyatt Thompson (Play-by-Play) Stan Weber (Analyst) Matt Walters (Sidelines)
Radio: Baylor IMG Sports Network / ESPN Central Texas Talent: John Morris (pxp), J.J. Joe (analyst), Ricky Thompson (sideline)
Satellite Radio: Sirius 132; XM 199
Fun fact: Kansas State has had 29 previous mid-season bye weeks under head coach Bill Snyder and have turned the extra week of preparation into a 20-9 record the next week. Meantime, if there is a silver lining to Baylor’s 0-4 start, their opponents so far this season are a combined 14-1.
Denzel Mims, wide receiver
Mims has been the Bears top wide receiver so far this season with his 406 receiving yards ranking fourth in the Big 12. But with the news this week that wide receiver Chris Platt, who was 5th in the Big 12 in receiving yards, is done for the year with a knee injury, there is even more pressure on Mims.
Drew Galitz, punter
Yes, I’m going outside the box with a punter here. Kansas State wants to keep it low scoring and Matt Rhule has said he would love a team that plays in the mold of Snyder’s teams. So maybe this becomes a field position game? If so, Galitz is a weapon for the Bears. He leads the Big 12 with an average of 45.2 yards per punt with six of 50+ yards. BU ranks first in Big 12 and second nationally in net punting (45.76).
Kansas State Wildcats
Reggie Walker, defensive end
Walker was a preseason All-Big 12 honoree, but he’s off to a slow start this season. Through Kansas State’s first three games, he has just one tackle for loss and zero sacks. With defenses no longer needing to focus on Jordan Willis, Walker has become the focus on the defensive line. With a suspect Baylor offensive line, this could be his chance for a breakout performance.
Jesse Ertz, quarterback
Ertz had a tough passing night against Vanderbilt, completing 10 of 28 passes with zero touchdowns to two interceptions. He has a chance to get back on track against a secondary that is young with two sophomores (CB Grayland Arnold, SS Henry Black) and one freshman (CB Harrison Hand) listed as starters.
Youth on the road
Baylor played admirably in its Big 12 opener in a 49-41 loss to Oklahoma. But now the young Bears go on the road. Just how young is Baylor? Baylor has played 15 true freshman over the first four weeks, a total that ranks seventh nationally. The Bears have started eight freshman at least once this year and they have five freshman listed at starters for Saturday. By comparison, Kansas State has none. The Wildcats are at home, coming off a bye week and have had two weeks to stew about their road loss at Vanderbilt. There’s not much that can possibly prepare Baylor’s young players for this environment.
Can Kansas State get back on track?
Bill Snyder’s team was sloppy against Vanderbilt two weeks ago. They lost the turnover battle and had more penalties than Vandy. These are staples of Snyder’s program. The bye week came at the right time for the Wildcats as Snyder had two weeks to get his team’s heads on straight. But what if this Kansas State team just isn’t the borderline Big 12 title contender many of us expected prior to the season? We will learn a lot more about the Wildcats on Saturday afternoon. If they’re for real, they will run the Bears off the field.
Kansas State 35, Baylor 17
This is a very difficult spot for a young Baylor team. Also, as we noted, Zach Smith is down an option with Chris Platt out for the season. They’re also without defensive end Xavier Jones. It feels like the perfect storm for Kansas State to come out with a big performance in front of their home crowd to open up Big 12 play. Baylor played a great game last week, but this will be their fifth game in five weeks, with injuries and youth, while Kansas State is well rested.