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How they match up: Baylor vs. Kansas State

How they match up: Baylor vs. Kansas State

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Kansas State

Kansas State quarterback Skylar Thompson will lead the Wildcats into a big home matchup against visiting Baylor on Saturday.

Baylor offense vs. Kansas State defense

Kansas State will feature one of the best defenses the Bears will face this season, ranking third in the Big 12 by allowing 340.8 yards per game and fourth by allowing 21.1 points. But Baylor’s offense is a force to be reckoned with as it ranks second in the league with 453.1 yards per game and third with 35.4 points. The Bears are powered by a running game that leads the league with 237.5 yards per game, highlighted by the Big 12’s top rusher Abram Smith, who has piled up 1,203 yards.

Edge: Baylor

Baylor defense vs. Kansas State offense

After TCU beat Baylor, 30-28, behind a 461-yard passing performance by Chandler Morris in his first start, the Bears came back to hold Oklahoma’s powerful offense to 260 yards in last weekend’s 27-14 win. Kansas State’s offensive balance is similar to Baylor’s as elusive Deuce Vaughn leads the running game while veteran Skylar Thompson can make big plays in the passing game. But the Bears should be able to put enough pressure on Thompson to make him uncomfortable.

Edge: Baylor

Key matchup: TCU DE Felix Anudike-Uzoma vs. Baylor offensive line

Anudike-Uzoma is quite simply a beast. The fierce edge rusher leads the Big 12 with 11 sacks for 55 yards lost and is tied with Baylor safety Jalen Pitre for the league lead with 14 tackles for loss. Baylor’s offensive line has done a superb job protecting quarterback Gerry Bohanon all season. The Bears have allowed a league-low eight sacks, but they haven’t faced a terror like Anudike-Uzoma.

Edge: Kansas State

Special teams

Isaiah Hankins has been a solid kicker for the Bears all season by hitting 10 of 13 field goals while Issac Power is averaging 44.7 yards on 33 punts. Kansas State kicker Chris Tennant has hit three of five field goals while punter Ty Zentner is averaging 45 yards on 30 punts. But the Wildcats get the edge special teams edge due to dangerous kick returner Malik Knowles, who is averaging a league-best 32.1 yards on 17 returns while busting loose for two touchdowns.

Edge: Kansas State

Intangibles

The Wildcats sail into the game with a four-game winning streak and are already bowl eligible at 7-3, while Baylor is 8-2 overall and 5-2 in the Big 12. Bill Snyder Family Stadium is always a tough place to play due to a passionate fan base that will likely pack the 50,000-seat stadium. Baylor is 6-0 at home but has yet to prove it can beat a good team on the road. But the veterans on the Bears’ squad were part of the 2019 team that pulled off a 31-12 win in Manhattan, and will have plenty of incentive to do it again to stay in the Big 12 championship game race.

Edge: Baylor

— John Werner

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