Manhattan, KS – A pair of unbeaten Big 12 Conference clubs ranked Baylor Bears to Manhattan for the league opener.
Baylor, which has started 3-0 for the first time since 2005, hasn't opened with a 4-0 mark since 1991. The Bears have had the obvious advantage of playing their first three games at home and have posted two straight blowouts since squeaking by TCU in the opener. Last weekend, the club knocked off Rice by a 56-31 final.
"Kansas State has a lot of momentum," said Baylor head coach Art Briles, looking forward to this weekend's affair. "That's why it's the premiere game of the conference this week. They're 3-0, we're 3-0. Understand that every game is going to be a war, and it will be no different this Saturday in Manhattan."
The Wildcats found themselves in an all-out battle last weekend with Miami- Florida on the road, and head coach Bill Snyder was understandably proud of his team for mustering a 28-24 victory over the Hurricanes. The schedule is brutal for K-State this season, as it will take on the likes of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M and Texas in addition to this tough Baylor squad.
Kansas State owns a 6-2 series lead over Baylor, which includes a 3-0 advantage in Manhattan. Last season's meeting between the programs was highly entertaining, and the Bears escaped with a 47-42 victory.
Heisman Trophy candidate QB Robert Griffin III, the leader of the Baylor Bears, has completed a nation-leading 85.4 percent of his passes (70-of-82) this season and has thrown more touchdowns (13) than incomplete passes (12) in three games. Those numbers are staggering to say the least, and he has yet to be intercepted.
"Sometimes you can get sidetracked and get happy about what you're doing," said Griffin. "I think the guys are doing a great job in making sure that doesn't happen. We know we can continue to get better. We don't have perfect games and the coaches are staying on us."
Kendall Wright paces the Bears with 31 catches for 420 yards and four touchdowns, while Lanear Sampson and Terrance Williams have each hauled in three scores. Baylor is generating 51.3 ppg and 594.0 total ypg, having posted 20 offensive touchdowns through 12 quarters of football.
Defensively, the Bears are allowing 26.3 ppg and 363.0 total ypg. Sure, those numbers could be better, but the fact is that Baylor hasn't needed to be flawless on defense because of the play of Griffin and his offensive teammates. Just four sacks and five takeaways have been notched by Baylor, which is led by Mike Hicks (20 tackles, two INTs).
In the 25-point romp over Rice last time out, Griffin connected on 29-of-33 passes for 338 yards and five touchdowns. Wright hauled in 11 receptions for 108 yards and a score, while Tevin Reese accumulated 106 yards and a touchdown on seven grabs. Five different receivers caught touchdown passes, as Griffin did a tremendous job of spreading the ball around.
Kansas State relies heavily on its ground attack, and the club pounded out 265 yards and two touchdowns on 44 rushing attempts in the win over Miami. John Hubert, who scored the game-winning TD in the fourth quarter, led the pack with 166 yards on 18 totes. As for quarterback Collin Klein, he ran for 93 yards and a score while passing for 133 yards and two touchdowns.
"I'm just so concentrated on getting better," said Klein. "Saturday's the test. I want to do better next Saturday than I did this Saturday. Our coaches will be pushing me and us towards that goal."
Defensively, K-State yielded 411 total yards and three touchdowns to the Miami offense, but Snyder was still proud of the effort his young defenders put forth.
"Well, it showed a lot of courage for a football team, our defense," said Snyder. "It shows that we really do have excellent coaches as well to get us in the right position. Our defensive staff did a nice job today. I think our youngsters played hard, played well, right spot at the right time, doing what they're supposed to be doing."
Through three contests, Kansas State is averaging 25.0 ppg and 345.3 total ypg. The Wildcats are gaining 219.7 total ypg, and Klein is the leading rusher on the roster with 310 yards. As a passer, he has completed 59.6 percent of his tosses for 335 yards with four scores and only one interception.
The Wildcats are limiting foes to 10.3 ppg, as they were dominant defensively through the first two games of the campaign before bending a bit against Miami. Stopping the run has been a strength of Kansas State, which is permitting a meager 89.0 ypg at a clip of 3.0 ypc.