To get some last minute intel, I reached out to Kendall Kaut over at Our Daily Bears, the SB Nation site that covers the Baylor Bears.
The Baylor program has been in turmoil the last few years. What were the expectations for this team coming into the year?
A bowl game. That may seem a giant leap from last season, but it’s really not too wild. The Bears were pegged at 5.5 wins on most books. Matt Rhule set the standard at a bowl game. If the Bears fail to come close to that goal, he lives with the expectations he set.
Obviously the Duke game didn’t go as expected, with two huge turnovers and a strong defensive showing in the first half putting the Bears back on their heels. How concerned are you about the Kansas defense and their propensity to force turnovers?
I’m not that concerned about KU’s defense. KU is obviously playing better than last season, but as unlucky as the Jayhawks were in forcing and recovering turnovers last season, they’ve been about as lucky as possible to open the season. Bill Connelly had them pegged at +22 vs. expected value on turnovers against Rutgers.
My big concern against KU’s defense is that Baylor doesn’t run the ball that well, and Nicholls State showed that’s probably the best way to beat Kansas. Baylor’s offensive line ranges from dumpster fire to below average, but there’s way too much dumpster fire.
How does Baylor stop the rushing attack of the Jayhawks, especially Pooka Williams?
That’s the biggest concern on the day. Williams was comically underrated as a 4-star running back. I have no idea how he wasn’t a 5-star top 30 prospect.
Baylor will have to stack more guys in the box. They play a lot of cover 3 and Tampa 2 alignments. They’ve also used a three man front, which Duke exposed on a 3rd and 7 and ran a draw for a touchdown.
Stack the box and make tackles in space. The Bears haven’t done the former much, and they’ve struggled mightily with the latter. Williams is going to get at least one big run, and likely many more than that.
What is going to be the most important matchup for this game?
Baylor’s wide receivers v. Kansas’ secondary. The Bears need to get a much bigger day from Jalen Hurd, who was Tennessee’s all-time leading rusher. Denzel Mims is Baylor’s best player, and he didn’t play against Duke. Kansas hasn’t quite faced a receiving corps like Baylor’s, but the Bears need to play a much better game than we expected before the season to win this one. They’re going to have to hit a few bombs.
Prediction Time! Does Kansas break their 40-game road losing streak, or do the Bears show that KU is still at the bottom of the conference pecking order?
I have Baylor winning 31-17 in the preview I did at ODB. Baylor still has a much better roster than Kansas. But the Bears played a pathetic first half against Duke, and Williams can have a big day.
But there is no spinable excuse for Baylor to lose this one. Matt Rhule has to find a way to win this game. If not, things could really spiral.
BONUS: It seems pretty certain that Kansas is going to be looking for a new coach and staff next season. Name one guy on the Baylor staff who you think would excel on the new staff, either in the current role or in a new spot.
From the Baylor staff, I don’t think there’s anybody that sticks out.
I do have KU hoops winning the 2019 national title though, so that’s something positive from me for KU fans!
A big thanks to Kendall for taking some time to help us out. Don't forget to check it the questions I answered for him over on ODB.