The Kansas State Wildcats, who are the No. 1 team in the most recent BCS rankings and the No. 2 team in this week's AP Poll, continue their quest for perfection as they pay a visit to the Baylor Bears for a Big 12 Conference showdown on Saturday night.
Kansas State has beat up on all comers this season, running out to a 10-0 record by outscoring the opposition by an average of 24.5 ppg. The Wildcats won at TCU last weekend, 23-10, and they will clinch a share of the Big 12 title and the league's automatic BCS bowl bid with its next win.
Baylor is a Jekyll-and-Hyde squad when it comes to offense and defense, as the team ranks in the top 10 nationally in scoring (42.7 ppg) while checking in the bottom 10 in points allowed (39.4 ppg). Since opening the season at 3-0, the Bears have lost five of their last six, the most recent setback occurring last Saturday at Oklahoma, 42-34.
The all-time series between these two conference rivals favors K-State, 7-2. Baylor is 0-11-1 all-time against teams ranked No. 1 in any poll.
Led by Heisman hopeful QB Collin Klein, the Kansas State offense averages 42.2 points and 421.1 total yards per contest. Klein has completed nearly 70 percent of his passes for 2,020 yards with 12 TDs against only three interceptions, and he is one of the team's top ground gainers as well, checking in with 748 yards and a whopping 19 rushing TDs. John Hubert has amassed 783 yards and 12 scores in averaging better than five yards per carry. Chris Harper and Tyler Lockett both have 36 receptions, and the two have combined for 1,160 yards and five TDs. The KSU offensive line has allowed just 10 sacks this season.
The Wildcats' strength on defense has been their ability to shut down the run, as foes are generating just 98.9 ypg on the ground and have scored only six rushing TDs. Those same opponents, mostly in an effort to battle from behind, average more than 250 ypg passing, but they are just 38 percent successful on third-down conversion attempts. Arthur Brown leads the 'Cats with 69 tackles, while Ty Zimmerman has five picks and Meshak Williams has 8.5 sacks. Adam Davis has 6.5 sacks.
Klein threw for just 145 yards with no TDs and an interception last week at TCU, but scored twice on the ground to help push the 'Cats past the Horned Frogs in what was their lowest scoring output of the season. TCU managed just 96 net rushing yards and coughed the ball up twice.
Williams logged two of K-State's six sacks on the day, and Zimmerman had yet another interception.
Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder knows his team is on the cusp of something pretty special, and he spoke recently about the reception he and his team have received from the fans.
"There are people that are followers of our program, supporters of our program, that are very gracious. I think they feel good about the direction of the program and feel good about the young people in our program."
Like Kansas State, Baylor has a pretty good quarterback of its own in Nick Florence. A 61.5 percent passer who has thrown for nearly 3,200 yards with 25 TDs and 11 interceptions, Florence has been everything BU fans could have hoped for following the departure of Heisman winner Robert Griffin III.
It certainly helps to have extremely talented guys tracking down your passes, and Terrance Williams is among the best in the nation as he has 77 grabs for 1,431 yards and 10 TDs. The run game isn't asked to do a whole lot, but the Bears do have four guys who have rushed for at least 362 yards this season, the quartet combining for 19 TDs.
Simply put, the Baylor defense is an absolute mess. Opponents have had a field day mainly through the air (321.1 ypg, 26 TDs), although the effort against the run (198.7 ypg, 23 TDs) hasn't been much better. Despite the unit's ineffectiveness, Bryce Hager has logged a team-high 89 tackles. The Bears have recorded only 11 sacks this season, and that lack of pressure has taken a significant toll on the guys in the secondary.
Former Oregon Duck Lache Seastrunk ran for 91 yards and scored three TDs last week for Baylor, but it wasn't enough as the team fell short in its upset bid of Oklahoma. Florence had a rough day, going 12-of-33 for 172 yards without a TD, although he did manage 83 yards and a score on the ground. Williams still managed to haul in six balls for 91 yards.
The Bears allowed OU quarterback Landry Jones to pass for 277 yards and two TDs, while giving up 183 yards and four scores on the ground. Hager was a man possessed, logging 16 tackles, which included the team's only sack. The Bears did come up with a pair of turnovers, but the Sooners converted the majority of their third-down opportunities (9-of-13).
Baylor head coach Art Briles was asked about facing a top-ranked team, and while not taking anything away from the opponent and all they've accomplished, he put the onus on his club to play up to its potential.
"It's all about us. We have to continue to fight hard to get our fifth win and it just so happens that Kansas State is coming to town. If you play in this league, you will play really great football teams, so we have to be one of them. I think we're very determined, I think we're hungry, and I think we're getting better, and that gives me a lot of inspiration at this point in the season."