No. 11 Baylor and Kansas were on opposite ends of near upsets in their last games.
Those outcomes were indicative of why the Bears are trying to get to 6-0 for the fourth straight season, and the Jayhawks are still trying to get out of the Big 12 cellar while serving as Homecoming opponents their next two road games – the first being Saturday on the banks of the Brazos River against Baylor.
Before having last weekend off, the Bears (5-0, 2-0 Big 12) needed a 17-point comeback in the fourth quarter at Iowa State. Their only lead in a 45-42 win came when Chris Callahan kicked a 19-yard field goal on the final play of the game, an outcome that certainly got their attention.
“You have to bring your ‘A’ game every game,” quarterback Seth Russell said. “And I feel like as long as we can focus on what we can do and execute at a high level, we can win ballgames.”
Kansas (1-4, 0-2) was oh-so-close to what could have been a season-boosting upset of TCU. The Jayhawks had a nine-point lead in the fourth quarter before missing three field goal attempts, the last in the final seconds of a 24-23 loss after the Frogs had kicked a go-ahead field goal. That stretched Kansas’ conference losing streak to 14 games.
“Coming off the game from last week, obviously our guys are anxious to get back out there and get another shot at it,” second-year Jayhawks coach David Beaty said.
Kansas’ trip to Waco is its third in a row as Baylor’s Homecoming opponent. Baylor won 60-14 two years ago in its first season at McLane Stadium, and won 41-14 in 2012.
This has been an up-and-down season for senior running Shock Linwood, who became Baylor’s career rushing leader Sept. 16 at Rice, then had only two carries for 4 yards the next week. But he is coming off a 237-yard performance against Iowa State in the last game, when he had 25 carries and his first touchdown of the season. “On the sideline after the second quarter, I went over to him and said, ‘This is the Shock I remember.’ And he kind of laughed at me a little bit,” Russell said.
Jayhawks sophomore Steven Sims Jr . had nine catches for 101 yards against TCU, his third 100-yard receiving game this season. That is already the most by a Kansas player since 2009, when Dezmon Briscoe had seven and Kerry Meier five.
Behind the line
Kansas is fourth among FBS teams this season with 9.6 tackles for loss per game, which is currently on pace to break the school record (9.4 per game in 2016). Their 48 total is only 10 shy of what they had all last season. “After last year, our whole staff, we take it personal where we finish in specific areas because your stats are who you are. You can’t run from them,” Beaty said, crediting defensive coordinator Clint Bowen and his staff for the improvement. “He was extremely motivated because, man, he puts better teams out there than that routinely.”
Taking the fourth
Baylor hasn’t allowed a point in the fourth quarter this season, outscoring opponents 45-0 in the final 15 minutes. “I think it’s reflective of a team that knows how to finish,” said acting head coach Jim Grobe, adding that the Bears are a well-conditioned team. Kansas has scored only 14 points in the fourth quarter this season, and that was on two touchdowns in the season-opening 55-6 win over Rhode Island.
Open, game, open
After the Kansas game, the Bears have an open date – their second one in three weeks. Baylor is coming off an open date last week. The Bears will play six consecutive weeks after that to end the regular season, with only two of those games at home.
Kansas at No. 11 Baylor
2:30 p.m. Saturday, FS1