Kansas State rolls in to Waco this weekend as Baylor prepares to take on the No. 1-ranked Wildcats – only the fourth time in 50 years a top-ranked opponent has visited Floyd Casey Stadium.
For the Bears, the excitement of the game comes from more than just the fact that the team has a chance to prove its abilities against the top team in the nation. The Bears are also excited to be on their home turf, protecting their house.
“It’s motivation when whoever you play comes to Waco,” Baylor quarterback Nick Florence said. “They’re a good team, they’ve got a lot going for them, they play great football, they play disciplined football, and they’re number one. It is what it is and our goal is, when they leave Waco they’re not number one anymore.”
Three of Baylor’s five losses this season have ended with only one possession separating the Bears from the winning team. Although it can be frustrating, Baylor knows what it needs to do in order to make sure a close game does not result in an undeserved loss again this week.
“What we’ve got to do is we have to perform at a high level every snap of the game,” Baylor head coach Art Briles said. “That’s how close the line is between feeling good at the end of the game or feeling like you could have done better.”
Of course, the player getting the most attention on Saturday will be 2012 Heisman Watch leader, Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein. So far this year, Klein had led the Wildcats through an undefeated season with 12 touchdowns and only three interceptions. He has thrown for 2,020 yards with a passing percentage of 69.7 percent.
Briles understands the threat Klein brings to the Bears and describes Klein as a mature player who has a great sense about him in all areas of the game.
“What you see is what you get, and what you see is a guy that’s very engaged with everybody on the football team, makes intelligent decisions with the football, sacrifices himself when he needs to, protects himself when he has to, and is just very, very confident and productive,” Briles said.
However, the Bears also have their own offensive star looking to carry his team to a win in receiver Terrance Williams. This week, Williams was announced as one of the 10 semifinalists for the Biletnikoff Award, an award given to the nation’s top wide receiver.
“When you are gifted and you have the proper work ethic, attitude, and wholesomeness of a person, then you have a chance to be exceptional, and that’s what Terrance (Williams) is,” Briles said.
But even with a touchdown machine like Williams – he’s recorded 10 this season – Baylor will need to work hard to stay ahead of the Kansas State defense.
Against TCU last week, the Wildcats only allowed 10 points, collected six sacks, and forced two turnovers. What’s more, Kansas State has scored 114 points off turnovers this season while only giving up seven points to opponents via turnovers.
“It’s phenomenal what they’ve done,” Briles said about the team’s defense. “That’s how you win. It’s a sign of a mature football team…they do a great job protecting the ball.”
In a league where winning the turnover battle can be the difference between a win and a loss, staying ahead of Kansas State in that category will be critical.
The Baylor Bears have hope for this game, knowing that if they play every play perfectly and stay focused and on task, they may be able to pull the same upset Texas A&M accomplished only a week ago against then No. 1 Alabama.
“Once that game was won, the first thing that came into my head was that Kansas State is number one, the number one team in the nation,” Baylor cornerback Ahmad Dixon said. “This is the biggest opportunity that a football team can ask for, going up against the number one team in the nation…we know, and we just have to stay focused.” -- Savannah Pullin