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No. 19 Kansas State, Baylor face crucial Big 12 battle

Nov 5, 2022; Manhattan, Kansas, USA; Kansas State Wildcats quarterback Adrian Martinez (9) drops back to pass during the third quarter against the Texas Longhorns at Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

They have identical records, both in conference and overall, but No. 19 Kansas State and Baylor come into their Saturday evening matchup in Waco, Texas, with totally different mindsets.

Baylor (6-3, 4-2 Big 12) has won three straight games to move into a three-way tie with Kansas State and Texas for second place in the Big 12. The Bears host undefeated TCU on Nov. 19 before traveling to Austin to face Texas the day after Thanksgiving. If the Bears win out, they would be in the Big 12 Championship Game in Dallas on Dec. 3, likely against TCU.

“I’m excited for this week. It’s good to be home,” Baylor coach Dave Aranda said. “We fully recognize where we’re at and what’s at stake. We’re excited to tackle all of it.”

Aranda knows it won’t be easy to take on the Wildcats, especially since Kansas State is likely still hurting from a tough loss to Texas last week.

“I’m always impressed with Coach (Chris) Klieman and Kansas State,” he said. “They play a game I really respect. (They’re) tough, physical. Defensively their effort is outstanding. Offensively it’s a smart attack. They look for matchups. What a challenge we have in front of us.”

Baylor has been depending on its offense during its recent run. The Bears rank second in the Big 12 and 14th nationally in scoring at 38.3 points per game. They are doing it with balance between the ground game and the air. They are fourth in the conference with 210.3 yards per game rushing and fourth with 451.4 total yards per game.

Kansas State (6-3, 4-2) played its worst half of the season in the first two quarters against the Longhorns. The Wildcats fell behind early and trailed 31-10 at halftime. They came back in the second half and had a chance to tie the game late in the fourth quarter.

“Looking back, it was kind of a tale of two halves,” Klieman said. “In the first half, we couldn’t get off the field on defense. We just didn’t play very well on defense. It was 31-10 at halftime after we gave them a score late.

“In the second half, it got a little bit better. We were just behind too much. Overall, I was pleased with the effort. We’ve got to own it and learn from it.”

While Baylor has been succeeding with offense, the Wildcats have relied on their defense. They rank second in the Big 12 and are tied for 18th nationally in scoring defense, allowing 19.1 points per game, even after giving up 34 points to the Longhorns. The fact that they yielded just three points in the second half is reason for optimism.

Even though the Wildcats are not scoring a ton of points, their offense has been playing well. Quarterback Adrian Martinez is fifth in the conference in total offense (231.6 yards per game). He missed most of two games, and his backup, Will Howard, went 34-for-57 for 521 yards and six touchdowns in relief.

Kansas State running back Deuce Vaughn is second in the Big 12 in all-purpose yards (132.3 per game).

–Field Level Media