With all odds against them, the Baylor Bears knew they could win before the game even started.
“We knew we matched well, we had a good game plan, and if you don’t believe, get out of the locker room,” Baylor quarterback Nick Florence said. “We believed it and it happened.”
Kansas State gave up 238 passing yards to the Bears and allowed Florence to throw for two touchdowns in the Bears 52-24 win over the Wildcats. Before tonight’s meeting, the most points allowed by KSU this season was the 30 they gave up against Oklahoma State.
“I thought we prepared well, but it turns out we didn’t,” Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder said. “I don’t think we handled the situation as well as we should have been able to.”
The devastation of the Wildcats began with a 38-yard touchdown pass from Florence to receiver Tevin Reese on the team’s first drive of the game. The touchdown put the Bears up 7-0. They stayed on top the entire game.
“We always talk about starting fast is big and important,” Florence said. “Getting points on that first drive is a huge thing, so it was a good thing we did it.”
The running game that has been building in Baylor over the past few weeks exploded tonight into a dominating power that couldn’t be stopped by the Wildcats’ rushing defense, which ranked second in the Big 12 coming into the game.
With the help of a tremendous offensive line, running backs Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin each rushed for over 100 yards. Seastrunk recorded 185 yards and a 12-second, 80-yard dash to score Baylor’s final touchdown of the game. Martin, although trailing Seastrunk with only 113 yards, ran the ball in for three touchdowns throughout the night.
“Whoever wins the front line, wins the game,” left guard Cyril Richardson said. “We showed everybody that we could run the ball…it’s always fun to run like that.”
After being down 28-7 near the end of the half, Kansas State played up to its ranking to score on back-to-back drives. The Wildcats went on a 10-0 run chipping the Baylor lead down to 28-17 at the half.
However, KSU was only able to score one touchdown in the second half, compared to Baylor’s four, leaving them on the down side of the win.
“All week we believed we were going to beat them, and if we did we weren’t going to be surprised when it happened,” Florence said. “We hadn’t put it together and tonight we did it, and that’s the kind of locker room I want after every game.”
Unlike most Baylor games, which are dominated by offense, tonight the defense wanted a piece of the Wildcats. And they got it.
The Baylor defense held KSU to 362 total offensive yards, compared to Baylor’s 580. In addition, the team won the turnover battle, a critical part of any football game.
KSU started the game with only six turnovers on the season. However, Baylor surprised them by forcing three turnovers while giving up only two.
“The turnovers were huge,” safety Sam Holl said. “We really wanted to win the turnover battle, that’s huge in any game, and I feel like we did a good job of doing it this game.”
Not only did the Bears force turnovers, they capitalized on the opportunities they created for themselves, collecting touchdowns on two of their three interceptions. The defense also recorded two sacks for a total loss of 15 yards and had three players with 10 or more tackles.
“They thought they were going to come down here and just roll over us, but we weren’t about to let that happen, not in our house,” nickelback Ahmad Dixon said.
What Florence called “the icing on the cake” was probably the most trying play of the game for Baylor’s defense.
On the Wildcats’ second to last possession of the game, they sat at Baylor’s one-yard line on a second down. The strong Baylor defense was able to stop Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein on three consecutive rush attempts to solidify the win and give Baylor its first ever victory over a top-ranked opponent.
“We had a great focus the whole week at practice,” middle linebacker Bryce Hager said. “Everyone knew what we were supposed to do and everyone executed their job really well tonight…when there’s a stage like that, that’s a motivation factor right there, so when you’re playing the number one team you have to play your best, you have to know what you’re doing and execute all your fits and everything.”
With the win, Baylor became the first team with a losing record at the time of the game to knock of a top-seeded school.
“I take responsibility for not having them well prepared,” Snyder said. “We are going to be tremendously disappointed, and the sooner the better that will turn into anger and then it will be time to put this behind us.”
For now, Baylor and its coaches will enjoy the victory, Gatorade shower and all. But according to Florence, it does not erase the struggles the team has faced all season.
“This will feel good,” Florence said. “It’s a good memory, but what’s really going to feel good is going to a bowl game. That will make up for the four losses in a row and the one last week.”
-- Savannah Pullin