The Baylor Bears defeated the Kansas State Wildcats 37-34 on Saturday at McLane Stadium.
Here are some grades, thoughts and awards from the football game.
Player of the game
Alex Barnes. The Kansas State running back rushed for a career-high 250 yards and three touchdowns on 22 carries. K-State’s front five made it easy for him to find open space and he took advantage with touchdown sprints of 34, 48 and 55 yards. He is up to 607 yards this season and on pace for his best season with the Wildcats.
Play of the game
Skylar Thompson overthrew Barnes on what should have been an easy touchdown early in the third quarter. Barnes was wide open on the right sideline, but Thompson rushed the throw as a Baylor defender closed in on him. It’s possible Barnes could have still caught the pass, but he had trouble tracking the ball and came up two yards short. Nick McLellan missed a 38-yard field goal on the next play. A touchdown there could have changed the game.
Stat of the game
4. As in the combined total of missed field goals in this game. Baylor kicker Connor Martin was 3 for 6, but he did connect on a game-winner in the final minute. McLellan missed his only attempt. There were also two missed extra points.
Quote to note
“It didn’t feel very good catching a loss. Individual performances don’t matter if you can’t win at the end of the day.” — Alex Barnes.
Offense: B. It was a game to remember for K-State’s offensive line and Barnes. They both looked better than they had at any point this season, leading the Wildcats to 353 rushing yards. But this unit didn’t get much done otherwise. Skylar Thompson was 15 of 26 for 149 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. His best play came on a 52-yard scramble. K-State’s receivers accomplished nothing of note. The best catch of the day belonged to running back Dalvin Warmack, who caught a 28-yard touchdown on a wheel route in the fourth quarter. Not good, considering how poorly Baylor has defended the pass in other games.
Defense: D. Duke Shelley made an incredible leaping interception and Kendall Adams wisely stayed home on a Baylor trick play to come up with a pick of his own. But it was a rough day on defense, otherwise. The Bears amassed 557 yards and moved the ball at will between the 20s. If not for three missed field goals and some questionable play calls, Baylor would have won comfortably. It’s alarming to see K-State continue to miss so many tackles. Pro Football Focus counted 21 from K-State on Saturday. Discipline was also a problem. DaQuan Patton (late hit) and Reggie Walker (targeting) were both flagged at critical times in the fourth quarter.
Special Teams: F. Once a strength, Sean Snyder’s unit has become a weakness this season. The Wildcats have gotten very little from their kick return unit since the opening game against South Dakota. They opted to play it safe and take the ball at the 25 on all but one kickoff against Baylor. And the one time Isaiah Zuber attempted a return, he lost a crucial fumble after picking up eight yards. Withoutout Blake Lynch, who missed his second straight game with an injury, K-State missed a field goal and had an extra point blocked. Nothing went right for this unit.
Coaching: D. K-State players fought hard on Saturday. Give the coaching staff credit for that much. The Wildcats also had a solid game plan on offense. There were things to like in this game. But there were too many simple errors like missed tackles and penalties for a good grade. Bill Snyder also showed questionable clock management skills on Baylor’s final drive. He could have given K-State’s offense more time to answer by using timeouts.
K-State will host Oklahoma State at 11 a.m. next weekend in a game that might be more a bit more intriguing than originally expected.
The Cowboys are coming off a home loss to Iowa State that knocked them out of the top 25. It seemed like Oklahoma State was ready to challenge for a Big 12 championship when it throttled Boise State in its final nonconference game. But it is 1-2 in league play with home losses to Texas Tech and Iowa State.
Like all Mike Gundy teams, the Cowboys are best known for their offense.
Justice Hill has rushed for 643 yards and seven touchdowns this season. He is one of the best running backs in the Big 12, if not the nation. Quarterback Taylor Cornelius has thrown for 1,830 yards and 16 touchdowns.
The Cowboys are sure to score points on the Wildcats next weekend. Can K-State answer with enough offense to have a shot in the fourth quarter?
It will be an important game for K-State, which will play its following two games on the road against Oklahoma and TCU. The Wildcats will try to use home field to their advantage, but they are only 2-2 in Manhattan this season.
Thompson will hope to recreate the game he played against Oklahoma State last season, when he threw for 204 yards and led K-State to an upset victory over the Cowboys.