Manhattan, KS (SportsNetwork.com) - The 15th-ranked Baylor Bears will attempt to stay unbeaten, as they encounter their first road test in a Big 12 Conference bout with the Kansas State Wildcats.
Baylor was nothing short of dominant during its season-opening, four-game homestand, posting an average margin of victory of an incredible 54.3 points per game. After three easy victories in their non-conference schedule, the Bears opened up Big 12 play against West Virginia last weekend and dismissed the Mountaineers, 73-42.
"Kansas State is a great team," Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty said. "Coach (Bill) Snyder has done a great job with those guys year in and year out. It'll be a good test because Kansas State is a tough place to play. They will come in hot and ready to go."
Kansas State has endured and up and down season thus far, resulting in a 2-3 record. After beating up on non-conference foes Louisiana (48-27) and Massachusetts (37-7), the Wildcats began league play by dropping a pair of road contests to Texas (31-21) and Oklahoma State (33-29).
"It's difficult, as it always would be," Snyder said of his team committing 12 penalties and five turnovers in the close loss to Oklahoma State. "We just have not been that kind of football team. We had a chance to win even with it, but it sure makes it a heck of a lot harder."
Kansas State leads the all-time series with Baylor by a 7-3 count, although the Bears made easy work of the Wildcats last November, 52-24.
Baylor's offense is off to a historic start, as it leads the nation in scoring (70.5 ppg) and yards (779.5 ypg) by considerable margins. In each of their four wins, the Bears have set school records for both points and yardage, culminating in a 73-point, 864-yard explosion against West Virginia last week.
The maestro of the offense is Petty, who has completed 72.8 percent of his passes (sixth in the FBS) for 1,348 yards with 13 touchdowns (three rushing) compared to just a single interception. Seth Russell (20-of-30, 381 yards, three TDs, three INTs) has seen some time in mop-up duty.
The BU rushing attack is been unstoppable, racking up nearly 350 yards per contest. Lache Seastrunk leads the way with 589 yards and eight touchdowns on an incredible 11.1 yards per carry average. Shock Linwood has also been productive with 318 yards and five scores.
The Bears have two of the nation's best big-play receivers in Antwan Goodley (540 yards, five TDs) and Tevin Reese (425 yards, four TDs), both of whom average more than 23 yards per catch. Head coach Art Briles had some especially high praise for Reese.
"Out of all the great receivers Baylor has had over the decades, in particular the last four or five years, Tevin Reese is the most productive junior ever at this university," Briles said. "What he has really helped with in the last six months is the maturity factor. He's grown up and become a really good leader for us."
Even with a eye-popping offense, the Bears' defense has not suffered one bit, as it yields just 16.2 ppg and 321.2 ypg.
Bryce Hager has a team-high 30 tackles and he has also returned a fumble 91 yards for a touchdown. Eddie Lackey has 5.0 TFL and 2.0 sacks, while Shawn Oakman has 9.0 TFL and a pair of forced fumbles.
Although Kansas State's offense may pale in comparison, it has still been productive in its own right with 31.2 ppg and 391.4 ypg.
Jake Waters started the season as the team's quarterback, and while he impressed at times (.654 completion percentage, six touchdowns), he was plagued by five interceptions. Daniel Sims earned the start under center against Oklahoma State. His dual-threat ability stood out -- throwing for 181 yards, rushing for 118 yards and accounting for three scores -- but he too struggled with turnovers by throwing three picks.
"The good things we all saw, and the bad things we all saw," Snyder said. "We started him because we are trying to do some things that we knew he could do and get him invested collectively in the ball game."
Even when he is not the starting QB, Sims is active in the running game with 323 yards and four scores. John Hubert is the team's top tailback with 268 yards and four touchdowns.
Kansas State could be in trouble at receiver this weekend, as two of its top targets, Tyler Lockett (31 receptions, 475 yards, TD) and Tramaine Thompson (13 receptions, 185 yards, TD) are listed as questionable. In the event they can't go, Curry Sexton (18 receptions, 139 yards) will serve as the primary option.
Defensively, the Wildcats have held opponents in check to the tune of 24.4 ppg and 368.2 ypg.
Blake Slaughter has 43 tackles to lead the team, and he has a pair of sacks. Kip Daily has two of the team's four interceptions.