It has been a long week for K-State football fans. Saturday’s 33-30 overtime loss to the Texas Longhorns is a tough one to get over. A victory meant K-State had the inside track and controlled its destiny, needing only three more wins to earn an appearance in the Big 12 championship game. With the loss, that dream is unlikely.
I am always fascinated by the reaction of fans after a game like that. Chris Klieman’s decision to go for the win in overtime rather than kicking the field goal to tie and extend the game was controversial. I sat in stunned silence for a few minutes after the failed fourth down attempt gave Texas the win. As I checked social media to gauge fan reaction, I saw a few different reactions…
1.) The Wildcats got down early to the number six team in the country on the road 17-0, and eventually 27-7, before valiantly fighting back, never quitting, and tying the game in regulation to send the game to overtime. This is the “I’m proud of the kids for how they fought back and almost won the game” optimistic fan. I saw this reaction quite a bit.
2.) Coaching malpractice cost the Wildcats this game. The playcalling was suspect all game long and was why K-State found themselves in a huge deficit they could not overcome.
3.) Chris Klieman cost the team the game by going for it on fourth down in overtime instead of kicking the easy field goal to tie the game and extend it to a second overtime period. The Wildcats were likely to come out on top in the second overtime. Texas’ offense was on life support and K-State was playing very well.
All three are valid takes depending on your perspective, but I agree with numbers two and three. K-State came into the game thinking they would be able to run the ball against one of the best rush defenses in the country and were stubborn for a good portion of the game trying to get the run game going. They were not able to, rushing for only 30 net yards on the day. When they finally opened up the offense and started throwing the ball, they moved it and scored enough to tie the game and send it to overtime. Unfortunately, it was too little, too late.
The Wildcats were unable to get the run game going against Texas, but they should be able to get it going this weekend against Baylor. Baylor has one of the worst rush defenses in the country, ranking 119th, giving up 187 yards per game. Here is the “tale of the tape” for both teams.
K-State: 21st (452.7 ypg)
Baylor: 63rd (391.2 ypg)
K-State: 12th (204.2 ypg)
Baylor: 110th (114 ypg)
Baylor: 30th (277.2 ypg)
K-State: 51st (248.4 ypg)
K-State: 53rd (358.7 ypg)
Baylor: 88th (395 ypg)
K-State: 33rd (122.8 ypg)
Baylor: 119th (187.3 ypg)
Baylor: 42nd (207.7 ypg)
K-State: 78th (235.9 ypg)
Baylor has not only been bad against the run. They have not been very successful running the ball this season, ranking 110th in rush offense. Give me the team that can run the ball and control the clock (K-State) against the team that does not run it well (Baylor).
There are four common opponents between the two teams. The results of those games may indicate who is likely to come out on top this weekend.
Houston: Baylor lost 25-24, K-State won 41-0.
Texas Tech: Baylor lost 39-14. K-State won 38-21.
UCF: Baylor won 36-35, K-State won 44-31.
Texas: Baylor lost 38-6, K-State lost 33-30.
Baylor is 1-3 against the four teams. K-State is 3-1, with the one loss being last Saturday’s three-point overtime loss to Texas.
The point spread in this one has K-State favored by 20.5. That is a huge line for a conference game, but looking at the numbers, I think it is about right. I believe K-State will get the running game going early, jump out to an early lead, and eventually win the game by a score of something like 40 to 20. If the Wildcats can get this win, a huge game against the Kansas Jayhawks looms a week from Saturday.