BAYLOR VS. KANSAS PREVIEW: There's a lot riding on Big 12 opener
Baylor opens Big 12 play versus Kansas on Saturday at McLane Stadium. The Bears are more than a touchdown favorite despite the fact that Duke ran through the Bears last week while the Jayhawks ripped Rutgers.
Here are a few particulars that will shape the contest:
PLAYERS TO WATCH
QB Charlie Brewer had a reasonably efficient game against Duke as he completed 14 of 26 passes for 175 yards. He didn’t have a touchdown pass, but he led the Bears’ first scoring drive early in the third quarter.
RB John Lovett led Baylor with 51 rushing yards and averaged better than 5 per carry. It wasn’t enough to ignite the Bears’ rushing game, but Lovett appears to be moving closer to being Baylor’s featured back.
LB Clay Johnston missed the season-opener, but he’s getting closer to midseason rhythm. He led Baylor with 11 total tackles versus the Blue Devils, including 8 solos.
WR Tyquan Thornton entered the Duke game and made plays on a day when that was a rarity for Bears pass catchers. He finished with 3 receptions for 94 yards and a TD.
SERIES HISTORY: Baylor leads the all-time series versus Kansas, 13-4. The Bears have an eight-game winning streak in the series and have won those games by an average of 37 points.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I don’t know that we necessarily yet have the confidence and trust in ourselves that when adversity hits that we can just go back and say hey let’s fight right through this.” – Baylor coach Matt Rhule on trying to come back from a 23-0 halftime deficit against Duke on Saturday.
KEY MATCHUP: Baylor’s front seven versus Duke running back Pooka Williams Jr. The freshman Williams Jr. has surpassed 100 rushing yards in both of his college games so far (he sat out the Jayhawks’ season-opener versus Nicholls). He has to be salivating at the thought of playing Baylor, which has given up 181 rushing yards per game and 5.6 yards per carry against not-so-dynamic offenses. However, Baylor seems buoyed by the return of linebacker Clay Johnston the last two games. If Johnston and the Bears can slow down Williams Jr., it will give them a shot at stopping Kansas’s winning streak.