Here is everything you need to know about the Baylor Bears and the Kansas State Wildcats in our Baylor vs. Kansas State preview.
4:30 p.m. Central Time, Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021, Bill Snyder Family Stadium, Manhattan, Kansas
Radio: Baylor: Baylor Sports Network; Kansas State: K-State Sports Network.
Records: Baylor: 8-2 (5-2 in Big 12); Kansas State: 7-3 (4-3 in Big 12).
Ranking: Baylor: No. 11 (AP), No. 11 (College Football Playoff); Kansas State: None.
Last week: Baylor: def. Oklahoma, 27-14; Kansas State: def. West Virginia, 34-17.
Fun Fact: The all-time series between the two teams is tied at 9-9, but Kansas State hasn’t beaten Baylor since 2017. The program’s first meeting was in 1969, which was a 45-15 win for the Wildcats.
QB Gerry Bohanon: He flies under the radar in the Big 12, but perhaps it’s time for the radar to catch Bohanon, who waited three long years to lead the Bears. Last week against Oklahoma, Bohanon threw for more than 100 yards, rushed for more than 100 yards and accounted for all three of the Bears’ touchdowns in the victory. His total numbers aren’t getting national attention, but he’s keeping particular company. Right now, Bohanon is 1 of 5 players with at least nine rushing touchdowns and at least 16 passing touchdowns this season, joining Matt Corral of Ole Miss, Malik Willis of Liberty, Sam Hartman of Wake Forest and Sam Howell of North Carolina. Bohanon fits what Baylor wants to do like a glove.
RB Abram Smith: One year he plays offense, one year he plays defense, and one year he plays offense. In 2021, Smith has been an incredibly productive back, as he’s coming off a 148-yard performance against the Sooners. With 1,203 rushing yards, he’s fifth on Baylor’s single-season rushing yards list. As productive as Smith is, breaking Terrence Ganaway’s record of 1,547 yards in 2011 isn’t out of the question. Neither is Walter Abercrombie’s record for most 100-yard rushing games in a season, set back in 1980. Abercrombie did it eight times then. Abram has done it seven times this season.
S Jalen Pitre: Baylor has one of the best defenses in the nation, and Pitre is a big reason why. It’s not just that he’s third on the team with 55 tackles, or that he’s tops on the team with 10 1/2 tackles for loss. His ability to create havoc in different ways helps fuel what head coach Dave Aranda and defensive coordinator Ron Roberts want on defense. Pitre is the only player in the country with at least three forced fumbles (3), at least three fumble recoveries (3) and at least two interceptions (2). He’s a safety with coverage skills who can tackle like a linebacker. What’s not to like?
Kansas State Wildcats
DE Felix Anudike-Uzomah: Let’s run down the national categories in which Anudike-Uzomah is in the Top 10. First place? Forced fumbles per game (0.60). Tied for first place? Single-game forced fumbles and single-game sacks (four sacks in a game where many thought, at first, that he had six). Third place? Sacks per game (1.10, with 11 total). Seventh place? Tackles for loss per game (1.4, with 14 total). He has easily put himself on the All-Big 12 team, and an All-America selection seems possible.
RB Deuce Vaughn: Broken record alert. But, here’s the thing — Vaughn is in a groove in which it’s impossible to not list him here. Last week against West Virginia he rushed for 121 yards and a touchdown, and caught two more passes for six yards, which sounds pedestrian by his standards. But, he’s K-State’s leading receiver (40 catches for 427 yards and three touchdowns), has 437 yards from scrimmage in his last four games, 1,414 scrimmage yards and 16 touchdowns this season and has hit 100 scrimmage yards in 15 of 20 career games. You can just feel the 2022 Heisman campaign already in motion.
QB Skylar Thompson: The fifth-year player is in quite the groove for the Wildcats. In the last six games, he’s thrown for 1,456 yards and completed 72.2 percent of his passes. It represents the best six-game stretch of his long career, so it’s not a huge surprise that the Wildcats have put together a four-game winning streak during that stretch. His overall completion percentage of 71.6 percent is sixth in the nation, as is his 9.64 yards per attempt. His pass efficiency rating of 164.9 is No. 11. So, like Bohanon, Thompson is putting together quite the season under the national radar.
Baylor’s victory over Oklahoma on Saturday ruined the Sooners’ shot at the College Football Playoff. But, it also kept the Bears in the race to reach Arlington, Texas, as the Big 12 Championship Game (hence that controversial game-ending field goal that left Sooners head coach Lincoln Riley a little hot). So what has to happen? Well, first the Bears have to win out, because they’re a game back of both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State in the Big 12 standings. Second, the Bears need Oklahoma State to beat Oklahoma in the Bedlam game in two weeks. Baylor’s win over OU gave them the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Sooners. But, if the Cowboys slip back into a tie with Baylor, well, the Bears aren’t going anywhere because the Cowboys beat the Bears earlier this season.
Kansas State Wildcats
The bowl game berth is in hand and the winning streak is up to four games. What’s left? A chance to get to at least eight wins under head coach Chris Klieman for the second time in three years. A chance for Vaughn to continue to gather scrimmage yards like he’s collecting Pokemon avatars. A chance for Thompson to put an exclamation mark on his season. And a chance for the Wildcats to set themselves up for a potential surge in 2022. Those 15 extra bowl practices are on the horizon, and the Wildcats have their eye on a Top 4 finish in the conference in the final two weeks.
Prediction: Kansas State 27, Baylor 24
Baylor, coming off a big game, goes on the road to face the Wildcats. It feels like that kind of game for Baylor where they’ll play well, but commit a couple of untimely turnovers, and the Wildcats will take advantage. Expect it to come down to the end.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.
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