No. 11 Baylor hits Manhattan, visits streaking Kansas State

Kansas State’s four-game winning streak faces a serious test when No. 11 Baylor comes to Manhattan on Saturday.

K-State (7-3, 4-3 Big 12) has a chance to turn a good season into a special one with a victory over the Bears. Their four wins have all come against teams currently in the bottom half of the Big 12 standings. A win over Baylor definitely would improve the resume.

“Baylor’s a really good football team,” head coach Chris Klieman said Tuesday. “They deserve all the accolades they’re getting. They’re good in all three phases. We’re going to have our hands full.

“Our guys have good confidence right now. Now we just have to put the plan in place and be able to go out and execute.”

K-State’s balanced offensive attack and a stingy defense have peaked during the winning streak.

Quarterback Skylar Thompson is completing nearly 75 percent of his passes during the four-game streak. Running back Deuce Vaughn, who is just 13 yards shy of 1,000 yards on the season, has gained 444 yards with eight touchdowns during the streak.

If Vaughn gets to 1,000 yards, he’ll be the first Wildcats running back to do so since Alex Barnes in 2018, and just the second since 2013.

“He takes care of his body,” Klieman said. “We’re trying to move him around. Sometimes he’s as good a decoy as there is in college football. He’s allowing other guys to make plays. But we’re also finding ways to get him the football. When he gets the ball in space, we all know he can make a highlight film at any time.”

The defense has allowed just 39 points (in 14 quarters) since giving up 24 first-half points at Texas Tech in the first game of the streak.

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The Wildcats will have their hands full against Baylor (8-2, 5-2), who still have a strong shot at the Big 12 championship game.

Balance is the name of the game for the Bears.

Baylor joins Alabama and Georgia as the only Power-5 teams ranked top-20 nationally in scoring offense and scoring defense. The Bears are 20th in scoring offense (35.4 points per game) and 20th in scoring defense (19.9). Their defense is holding opponents to 11.7 points/game below their scoring averages in their eight wins.

Offensively, Baylor ranks sixth nationally with 6.97 yards per play and third nationally with 5.94 yards per rush. The Bears are fourth nationally with 237.5 rushing yards per game, after ranking 123rd last season (90.3 ypg).

Running back Abram Smith ranks third nationally in yards per carry (7.34), fifth in yards (1,203) and 23rd in touchdowns (11).

The Bears also come in on an emotional high after handing Oklahoma its first loss of the season, 27-14.

“I’m very happy for our guys,” head coach Dave Aranda said. “Inside our locker room there’s a log of emotion and energy. A lot of work has gone into that. I’m really proud of the results that come from that work.

“There are so many things I’m proud of with this team. It starts with people. The person drives the player. So many times, you can skip and go right to plays and schemes. They did play a part today, but they were driven by people.”

Baylor’s strong play of late has pushed Aranda’s name into the coaching rumor mill — including at Southern Cal and LSU. He was born in Southern California and was defensive coordinator at LSU prior to becoming Baylor head coach.

–Field Level Media