The Baylor Bears were home following a loss last Thursday to West Virginia, while Kansas came in fresh off a road loss at Oklahoma. The two teams were looking to get back in the win column and keep themselves in the hunt for a Big 12 Championship Game appearance. It was unseasonably warm and windy in Waco on Saturday, and the unusual weather mirrored the unusual game, as it was a tale of two halves between the two teams.
Here are three thoughts on Baylor’s 35-23 win over Kansas.
1. A Fast Start for Baylor
The Bears scored touchdowns on their first three drives and on four of their first five drives. Baylor could not get off to a better start, as they put together quick touchdown drives with short fields, along with long drives. Their first drive went seven plays for 41 yards and a score and the second one came after a forced fumble, when Baylor took it 25 yards in two plays for a score, while Baylor’s third and fourth drives went 16 plays for 73 yards and then there was a 99-yard drive over 15 plays, as Baylor led 28-3 in the second quarter. It looked like the Bears were well on their way to a dominant victory over the Kansas Jayhawks as we hit halftime in Waco.
2. KU Wakes Up in the Second Half, But It’s Not Enough
While Baylor won the game, give Kansas credit for their resiliency as they never gave up in this game. Baylor took a 28-3 lead into halftime, but Kansas scored 20 unanswered points in the second half to make it a 28-23 game in the fourth quarter. They did it by taking advantage of Baylor’s mistakes (a third quarter fumble), along with two 90-plus-yard drives that ended in touchdowns.
And KU’s defense deserves enormous credit as well, as they held Baylor scoreless until the final few minutes of the game when Richard Reese punched in a score from two yards out to make it a 35-23 game and seal the victory for BU.
It was a fitting ending for Richard Reese, who had 31 carries for 186 yards and two touchdowns to lead the way for Baylor’s offense. As a team, Baylor rushed for 273 yards yards and four touchdowns in a dominant effort against the Jayhawks.
3. Baylor Stays Alive in the Big 12 Hunt
As I noted earlier this week in our staff Game of the Week picks, I selected this game and wrote the following: “There are two huge games this weekend in K-State vs. TCU and Texas vs. Oklahoma State, but KU at Baylor is an elimination game because the loser can kiss their chances goodbye of reaching a Big 12 Title game, while the winner can still feel like they’re in the mix.”
And the Bears are now 2-2 in Big 12 play as they look to defend their Big 12 Championship this season. The Bears will need some help down the stretch, along with likely winning out, but they’re right in the mix, which they would not have been able to say with a loss.
Meantime, Kansas has lost its third-straight game and falls to 2-3 in league play heading into a bye week, which this team needs after a thrilling and emotional first eight games of the season. The Jayhawks just need to win one more game to become bowl eligible. I believe they will get there, but it won’t be easy, simply because nothing comes easy in the Big 12.