Kansas State Game Preview Part 3

Kansas State Game Preview Part 3

What are the keys to a Bears upset bid on Saturday, and do we actually believe it will happen?

The Baylor Bears host the top ranked Kansas State Wildcats this Saturday evening in a game that could go a long way in determining three futures. The first, Collin Klein can take another step towards the Heisman trophy with a big statistical game against a weak Baylor defense. Secondly, Kansas State can move one game closer to a BCS title game appearance. And finally, can the Bears pull off one of the biggest upsets in school history and inch closer to a bowl game.

Statistical Comparison:

Last week, the Bears lost by 8 points to a team that average out to be the 5th best in the country according to advanced statistics. This week, they welcome in a team that is even better than that.

Baylor

Kansas State

FEI Rank

53

1

F/+ Rank

61

2

S&P+ Rank

43

1

GE Rank

55

3

Average

53

1.75

Kansas State is an elite team this year, no doubt. They are the most efficient teams in the country, and their record, rankings and advanced statistical profile reflect it.

Baylor O Rank

Kansas State D Rank

Advantage

FEI

1

5

BU

F/+

4

15

BU

S&P+

12

30

BU

Rush S&P+

10

46

BU

Pass S&P+

15

26

BU

Standard Downs S&P+

6

32

BU

Passing Downs S&P+

11

28

BU

Success Rate

12

74

BU

Average

8.875

32

BU

Baylor D Rank

Kansas State O Rank

Advantage

FEI

121

18

KSU

F/+

118

13

KSU

S&P+

99

8

KSU

Rush S&P+

90

8

KSU

Pass S&P+

104

7

KSU

Standard Downs S&P+

84

9

KSU

Passing Downs S&P+

108

7

KSU

Success Rate

106

8

KSU

Average

103.75

9.75

KSU

TOTAL

56.3125

20.875

KSU

While the Kansas State offense dominates the Bears ranking, that is something Baylor fans should be used to by now. This is a very good offense in terms of the value they get for every yard/possession. They do not waste chances or leave points on the board, which props up their lack of explosiveness. They are mostly methodical, but do not get too comfortable on defense. Their pass attack can go for big plays when you key on their run game too much.

The statistic that did surprise me is the lack of love for the KSU defense. I expected them to be much higher, but it appears that some of the value of their defense is inherited from their offense. My original thought was that it was due to their clock-control offense that just kept the opposition's offense off the field. However, the opposition gets 70.9 plays per game, 40th in the country, which was also worse than I expected.

I believe that their value is mainly aligned to the fact that their offense does not put their defense in tough spots. They only have 6 turnovers on the year, and rarely take the chances at mid-field that Bear fans have become accustomed to under Coach Briles. Bill Snyder plays it straight up usually, and trusts his defense to do its job. And most of the time, they do it very well.

The lack of love for the Kansas State defense is more than made up for on the offensive side of the ball. They rank almost as highly as the Baylor offense (9.75 versus 8.875). However, these are two VERY different offenses. The Bears are the best passing attack in the nation, while Kansas State lives off of their rushing attack and then getting play-action passes deep. These are two very good offenses, but they do it in completely different ways.

Keys to the Game:

1. Win the field position battle

There are two ways that Kansas State usually wins the field position battle. First, they have a pair of dangerous return men in Tyler Lockett and Tramaine Thompson. They don't get many chances, but they always make the most of it. Thompson is their primary punt returner, and is averaging 26.5 yards per return. Read that again. 26.5 yards per punt return. Lockett, their primary punt returner averages 34.5 yards per return. Between them, they have 3 touchdowns on the year. Baylor special teams have to do a good job of minimizing their impact, but pretty much you can mark down a possession starting in Baylor territory off of a kick return right now.

The other way to win the field position battle is turnovers. Baylor cannot turn the ball over and give Kansas State short fields to work with. And this is not just fumbles and interceptions. This is also failure to convert on 4th downs, which is pretty much a turnover as well. The Bears have to make Kansas State work hard for their points, by driving 60+ yards at least for touchdowns.

2. Turnovers!!!!!

Look, this is always going to be here. If you have read more than one of these preview articles, turnovers are just always going to be here. I might as well just put turnovers down and not write anything. Kansas State has made a living off of turnovers. They are +20 on the year, more than +9 better than other power conference school. Baylor is -1 on the year, and for the first time last week, the winner of the turnover margin did not win the game. Baylor has to win the turnover margin to have a chance. Period.

3. Make Kansas State one-dimensional

The Wildcats are already pretty one-dimensional, though their passing attack impacts the game usually with big plays. Baylor has to sell out on the run and make Klein beat them through the air. Of course, pretty much every team has tried that and KSU still has run all over almost everyone.

4. First down is the most important

If there is one weakness of the Wildcat defense, it is first down. They are just 42nd in the country in rushing yards per first down (4.08) and they are 65th in passing yards on first down (989 or 6.3 yards per attempt). Compare that to 2nd down (3.43 yards per attempt) and 3rd down (0.13 yards per attempt) and their first down defense starts to look a little easier. The Bears have to run the ball effectively on first down and setup good 2nd down chances. Their pass defense on second down has allowed the 109th most passing yards (903, 6.84 yards per attempt). The Bears cannot get behind the chains against the Wildcats. Their pass rush is excellent on 3rd downs, and they only allow a first down on 30.85% of their 3rd and longer than 4 (25 first downs on 66 pass attempts, 4 first downs on 28 rush attempts).

5. Play with Passion

I love these non-statistical ones. How many different ways can we say that the Bears need to play with passion? Play with nothing to lose. Play like their hair is on fire. Play with their backs against the wall. Cornered animal is dangerous. I can come up with a 100 of these. The fact is, Baylor should lose this game. Kansas State is one of the best teams in the country, and Baylor is fighting for 6 wins. Baylor has to come out and play like they have nothing to lose and bring the fight to KSU. Heck, why not?

Prediction – Bears lose 45-35

I want to predict a Baylor win. I want to say that all of the things will happen and the Bears will get those breaks they need. I will be there at the stadium rooting it on with all of my being. I want to point out that KSU has lost their last two games in Waco, and the one in 2010 was the game that the Bears clinched their first bowl game in a long time. I was there, it was amazing. I want to see it again; I just don't think it will happen. KSU is an even better team that I thought this year, and I had them winning the Big 12 (right there with West Virginia…missed on that one). I think the Wildcats will get enough turnovers, and the Bears will score late to make it a 10 point game.

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