If Baylor finds itself disappointed tomorrow, it could find itself replaying two sequences in its green and gold mind for the next nine months.
Already leading No. 9 Kansas State 7-0 midway through the first quarter, Baylor missed a golden chance to push the lead to 14-0 when Bryce Petty was intercepted by Randall Evans inside the Wildcats’ end zone. Then, leading 38-20 late in the third quarter, Baylor pushed Kansas State into a 3rd-and-17 at its own three-yard line when Jake Waters found Tyler Lockett for an 18-yard completion. Kansas State scored 10 plays later to pull within 38-27.
The Bears held on for a 38-27 victory, and an 11-point win over a top-10 team in a game where you never trailed (game control!), is a solid victory but, in chasing No. 3 TCU and No. 5 Ohio State, who both will take big victories into Sunday, solid may not be good enough. A 38-27 win is good, but a 45-20 win is even better – and would represent an improvement over the Frogs’ 41-20 win over K-State earlier this season.
The good news? If No. 6 is as high as Baylor rises this season, it’s still a grand slam of a season. Baylor is back-to-back Big 12 champions. It’s 26-3 in its last 29 games. It’s won 16 straight home games.
Oh, and its got a pretty darn good quarterback.
Petty was a ninth-grade science teacher on Saturday night, dissecting creatures all over the place. He set a career high with 34 completions – on only 40 attempts – 412 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Baylor rushed 37 times for 172 times and four touchdowns and out-gained Kansas State 584-403.
And while we’re at it, Baylor was never seriously threatened on Saturday night. They jumped out to a 14-0 first-quarter lead and never allowed the Wildcats closer than seven points. Xavien Howard put the game away by intercepting Waters at his own 19, allowing the Bears to evaporate the final 5:08.
If not for a titanic effort by Lockett (14 catches for 158 yards and a touchdown) this was a blowout.
But, it wasn’t A 38-27 win is the result Baylor will live with, for the next 13 hours and beyond. It’s good enough to clinch a share of the Big 12 championship, but is it enough for the College Football Playoff selection committee?
We’ll find out soon enough.