K.D. Cannon

CFT Previews: The Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic

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WHO: No. 5 Baylor vs. No. 8 Michigan State
WHAT: The 79th Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic
WHEN: 12:3o p.m. ET on Jan. 1 (ESPN)
WHERE: AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas
THE SKINNY: He’s officially the head coach at the University of Pittsburgh by now but Pat Narduzzi will serve one last game as Michigan State’s defensive coordinator, joking that he wouldn’t have accepted the job had he not received permission to coach this game. It’s “unfinished business,” as he called it.

Unfortunately for Narduzzi, there’s a high chance it may not go very well for him. Yes, the Spartans rank sixth nationally in total defense, 21st in yards per play allowed and 14th in scoring defense, but have you checked their schedule? Michigan State dominated the decent, mediocre and bad offenses it faced this season, and got boat-raced by the really good ones. We’re talking 46 points, nearly 500 yards and 7.22 yards per play against Oregon and 49 points, 568 total yard and 8.48 yards per play in a loss to Ohio State. Baylor has much more in common with the Ducks and Buckeyes than, say, Maryland. The Bears lead FBS in scoring and total offense for the second year in a row – though they do rank one spot behind Michigan State in yards per play.

As strange as it sounds, if Michigan State wins this game it may be because they out-scored Baylor. The Bears ranked a solid 39th in scoring defense and 33rd in yards per play allowed, but Connor CookJeremy Langford and Tony Lippett should have their opportunities.

Since we’ve thrown out why Michigan State won’t win, here’s some shade on why Baylor won’t win to even things out: how sure are we that Baylor is any good? Sure, the Bears could probably beat the Houston Texans if they got to play them in Waco, but what has this program done outside of the city limits in the past two years? The Oklahoma win was impressive, sure. But outside of that, there’s the loss to West Virginia this season, the blowout loss at Oklahoma State last year, and then the Fiesta Bowl loss to Central Florida last New Year’s Day. AT&T Stadium may feel an awful lot like home by kickoff, but it’s not McLane Stadium.

In the end, this game boils down to how much Baylor’s other receivers show up. Kurtis Drummond figures to go mano-y-mano on K.D. Cannon, so what kind of damage can Bryce Petty inflict with Antwan GoodleyJay LeeCorey Coleman and company?

THE PICK: Baylor 45, Michigan State 37

Bonkers on the Brazos: No. 5 Baylor’s comeback stuns No. 9 TCU, 61-58

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On the 216th and final snap, No. 5 Baylor notched the 21st and final score of a four-and-half hour game to take its first and final lead, a 28-yard Chris Callahan field goal as time expired to give the Bears a 61-58 win over a stunned No. 9 TCU squad.

Before we talk about how Baylor won the game, we first must talk about how they nearly lost it. TCU stormed out of the gate by forcing a turnover on downs on Baylor’s first possession, immediately responding with a 35-yard touchdown pass from Trevone Boykin to Kolby Listenbee, then forcing a Shock Linwood fumble, and capitalizing on the turnover with a 3-yard B.J. Catalon scoring dash to take an early 14-0 lead.

Baylor spent the rest of the evening playing catchup, pulling to a 24-24 tie only to immediately allow a 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Catalon, then pulling within four at 31-27 and 34-30 only to watch the Horned Frogs take control of the game with a 24-7 run over a seven-and-a-half minute span in the late third and early fourth quarters. Marcus Mallet gave TCU a 58-37 lead with 11:38 to play by stepping in front of a Bryce Petty pass and taking it 49 yards for a touchdown.

From that moment forward, the Baylor offense never left the field without a score, and its TCU counterparts seemingly loaded the bus for Fort Worth.

The comeback started one minute later as the Bears scored in only four plays, punctuated by a seven-yard Devin Chafin touchdown run. Exactly four minutes later, Petty hit Antwan Goodley for his second touchdown of the game, this one from 28 yards out and pulling the Bears to within 58-51 with 6:39 remaining.

After a TCU three-and-out (with two passes), Baylor raced 91 yards in five plays, with Petty hitting Corey Coleman from 25 yards out to tie the game with 4:42 to go.

Memo to future opponents: all Baylor needed to erase a 21-point deficit was 14 plays and three minutes and 21 seconds of all possession (and, of course, a willing accomplice in the TCU offense.)

With the game tied at 58-58, TCU moved to midfield but was forced to punt when faced with a 4th-and-8. Then the Bears were flagged for having 12 men on the field, and after two timeouts and what felt like 15 minutes of real time, Gary Patterson elected to go for it on a 4th-and-3 from the Baylor 45. Boykin’s pass to Josh Doctson.

Baylor then took over at its own 45 with 1:11 to play and, after moving to the TCU 43, was seemingly faced with its own 4th down decision after a Petty pass fell incomplete, but Corry O’Meally was flagged for pass interference on a strikingly similar play to the one on TCU’s final possession that did not draw a flag.

Five plays later, Callahan knocked in a 29-yarder and thousands of green and gold faithful rushed the field.

No 61-58 game is without controversy, and Patterson’s decision to eschew the punt on 4th-and-3 and the no-call/call pass interference decisions will live in Baylor-TCU infamy, a series that now stretches 110 games and saw Baylor take a 52-51-7 lead.

Petty simultaneously trashed and resurrected his Heisman Trophy campaign after completing 28-of-55 passes for 510 yards with six touchdowns and two interceptions while adding 10 rushes for 23 yards. Linwood rushed 29 times for 178 yards, and Bears receivers Goodley, Coleman and K.D. Cannon combined for 22 receptions for 426 yards and five touchdowns.

Boykin hit 21-of-45 passes for 287 yards with a touchdown with 45 rushing yards, but Catalon was the Frogs’ standout with 48 rushing yards and two touchdowns, 71 receiving yards and the 94-yard kickoff return touchdown.

The win undoubtedly puts Baylor in the drivers’ seat for the Big 12 title and a College Football Playoff berth, but also sets up another possible three-way tie scenario with TCU beating Oklahoma, Baylor beating TCU and Oklahoma beating Baylor in Norman on Nov. 8, but that’s a worry for another day. The Bears first must focus on their trip to West Virginia on Saturday.

TCU, meanwhile, will look to pick up the pieces of 85 shattered hearts before No. 16 Oklahoma State comes to Fort Worth on Saturday.

No. 9 TCU starts fast, hangs on to 31-27 halftime lead at No. 5 Baylor

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No. 9 TCU raced to a 14-0 lead in a charged McLane Stadium, but No. 5 Baylor fought back to forge a 24-24 tie before the Horned Frogs immediately retook the lead on a 94-yard B.J. Catalon kickoff return for a touchdown, seemingly setting our halftime score at 31-24 until James Power snapped the ball over TCU punter Ethan Perry’s head inside his own territory, which was recovered by Baylor’s Shawn Oakman and set Chris Callahan up for a 29-yard field goal on the half’s final play, pushing the Bears to within 31-27 at the half.

Whew. Everybody got it?

The Horned Frogs started scorching hot, forcing a turnover on downs followed by a 35-yard touchdown pass from Trevone Boykin to Kolby Listenbee, then forcing a Shock Linwood fumble on the ensuing possession and turning that into a three-yard Catalon scoring dash.

Baylor fought back to forge a 24-24 tie, and even had a golden opportunity to take the lead in the second quarter after taking over at the TCU 40-yard line while trailing 21-17, but the Bears turned it over on downs.

Bryce Petty has hit a number of big plays, hitting 15-of-29 passes for an even 300 yards and three touchdowns. The Bears’ trio of big play wideouts have lived up to their billing as Corey Coleman has five grabs for 93 yards and a score, K.D. Cannon has three catches for 87 yards and a touchdown, and Antwan Goodley has collected three passes for 84 yards and a touchdown.

TCU has been completely feast-or-famine on offense, toggling between touchdown drives of 67 and 66 yards, a 45-yard field goal drive and Catalon’s 94 yard kick return with five three-and-outs, one of which directly led to Baylor’s end-of-half field goal. Boykin has thrown for 165 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 33 more, while Catalon has added nine rushes for 34 yards and two touchdowns.

TCU will receive to open the second half.

Bearish on No. 8 Baylor after victory over Buffalo Bulls

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The Baylor Bears are off to yet another fast start.

No matter what Art Briles‘ squad is doing, it’s operating at a breakneck pace. The Buffalo Bulls were the latest team to fall to the Bears’ overwhelming offense. Baylor racked up 669 total yards of offense on its way to a 63-21 victory.

Baylor’s win isn’t necessarily impressive nor is it the biggest story to come out of the game.

The Bears scored at least 69 points in four of their first five games last season. What the Bears are doing at the beginning of this season by beating opponents by a score of 178-27 isn’t impressive anymore.

The Bulls should actually be encouraged by their performance after the first two teams on Baylor’s schedule only managed six total points. Buffalo was able to move the ball and accumulated 394 yards of offense.

Baylor, meanwhile, will be content with the performance of their quarterback Bryce Petty, who is still dealing with a pair of cracked vertebrae in his lower back. Petty didn’t play last week against Northwestern State. The senior quarterback rebounded with a strong effort against the Bulls. Petty was 23-of-34 passing for 416 yards and four touchdowns.

Petty continues to benefit from Baylor’s talent at wide receiver. Three different targets had at least 123 receiving yards. Freshman K.D. Cannon stole the show with his 189-yard performance. Jay Lee added 136 yards, while Lynx Hawthorne accumulated 123 more.

But the problem for Baylor isn’t their travel plans as they return to Waco, Texas from Buffalo, N.Y. with an easy victory in hand. The Bears’ schedule continues to be a problem. A decisive win against the Bulls does very little to promote Baylor as one of the top programs in the nation.

It’s only Sept. 12, yet Baylor is already trying to overcome the perception it doesn’t play anyone this season outside of the Big 12 Conference. And the program doesn’t.

For the Bears to be in legitimate consideration as one of the four semi-finalists in the first College Football Playoff, they will have to run the table while continuing to win games in impressive fashion as they did against Buffalo.

Halftime: Baylor’s freshman WR is the program’s newest star

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As Baylor’s offense continues to dazzle, an overlooked aspect of the Bears’ program is its depth. It’s group of wide receivers is as deep as any in the country.

No. 8 Baylor leads the Buffalo Bulls at halftime 35-0, and the Bears offense continues to play at an extremely high level even without its top receivers in the lineup.

Freshman K.D. Cannon is quickly developing into a superstar. Cannon has five receptions for 171 yards, which includes a dynamic 89-yard touchdown reception. Cannon entered the game ranked sixth in the country with 282 receiving yards. His performance Friday night will take him into the weekend as the nation’s leader in receiving yardage.

Cannon isn’t the only receiver playing at a high level for Baylor.

Junior Jay Lee also has five receptions for 95 yards and a touchdown. Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty has completed passes to five different targets for 329 yards and pair of touchdown tosses.

The Bears aren’t expected to let up in the second half.

Baylor head coach Art Briles said at halftime, “We don’t feel we have a big lead.”

Buffalo, meanwhile, has 78 total yards of offense.

Expect the Bears’ wide receivers to continue padding their stats in the second half, and there isn’t much Buffalo can do to stop Baylor.