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Baylor Preview

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Kansas looks to surprise all of college football in what will be the Jayhawks’ season finale.

Baylor v Kansas Photo by Brian Davidson/Getty Images

Every time I do a Baylor preview, I am incredulous that they still have an athletic department. This is your regular reminder that Baylor systematically covered up its rape culture at an institutional level less than 20 years after its head men’s basketball coach directed players to lie about a murdered teammate.

PREGAME

Baylor leads the overall series with Kansas 14-4, and has won 9 in a row against the Jayhawks.

Kansas has not won four games in a season since 2009.

This is the first time since 1977 that Kansas has faced four consecutive opponents ranked in the Top-25.

Pooka Williams needs just 55 rushing yards to become the second Jayhawk ever to rush for 1,000+ yards in back-to-back seasons (James Sims).

Stephon Robinson needs two touchdown receptions to tie Marcus Henry for second in single-season TD catches.

Through its first six home games, Kansas has seen an 84% increase in attendance over 2018.

Carter Stanley now ranks in the top-5 in school history in the following categories: Pass TDs, Pass Yards, Pass Completions, Pass attempts.

FIRST QUARTER

As you’ll see below, Baylor profiles in the top-25 of S&P+, but ranks in the top-50ish in terms of per-game team stats. However, after struggling with mobile quarterbacks like Skylar Thompson, Jalen Hurts, and Brock Purdy, Kansas now gets to deal with Baylor’s Charlie Brewer. Brewer completes 66.6% of his passes with a 19/5 TD/INT ratio. Brewer is their third-leading rusher in terms of total yardage, and leads the Bears in rush attempts.

SECOND QUARTER

Baylor really spreads the ball around, so Kansas won’t be able to focus on stopping one player (except maybe Brewer, but good luck with that). The Bears have three receivers with 35+ receptions and 400+ yards, and have two backs with 80+ carries and 500+ yards.

THIRD QUARTER

If they Jayhawks want to hang with Baylor, they’ll need some regression to the mean on both ends of the turnover luck. Baylor (+7) currently ranks 18th in the NCAA, while Kansas (-7) ranks 116th.

Kansas has been competitive this year despite the negative turnover margin, so it would be nice to have a game that goes +2 or better for the Jayhawks. As an aside, that in and of itself is a marker of progress; after all, it seemed like David Beaty needed games of +6 (which he had two of last year) to get a W.

FOURTH QUARTER

Baylor is currently ranked #19 by S&P+ with the #20 offense and the #17 defense.

Kansas is down at #101 overall, with the #75 offense and the #105 defense.

But take heart, Kansas fans! The Jayhawks aren’t the worst P5 team anymore. Thank yous go out to Vanderbilt (102), Arkansas (108), and Rutgers (117). If things go just right, the Jayhawks may even have a chance to end the season higher than Arizona (87), Maryland (88), and/or West Virginia (89).

The last time Kansas finished a season inside the S&P+ Top 100 was 2013, when the Jayhawks finished 89th.

PREDICTION

As of noon on Friday, Kansas is “just” a 14.5 underdog per most Vegas books. Looking at the numbers and the stats, my first thought is that seems a little off, as I would have expected it to be in the 20s.

Once again, similar to Iowa State last week, this is not a favorable matchup for Kansas in any manner - on paper. In fact, the Bears profile slightly stronger than ISU did last week. So, if the Jayhawks are to pull off a win, it will likely have a lot to do with intangibles - home field, senior day, etc. It will also require Miles allowing Dearmon to do his thing, which I think we saw last week in Ames after a couple of weeks of whatever that was against K-State and OSU.

Les Miles famously knocked off #4 Oklahoma in his first season in Stillwater back in 2001 despite his Cowboys coming into the game with a 3-7 record. However, if you’re leaning Jayhawks in this one, you’re doing it pretty much on faith alone. Kansas has the offense to keep up, but we all understand just how bad the defense is at this point. Without some turnover luck, this one likely won’t end favorably for the good guys. Baylor 45, Kansas 31.

EXTRA POINT

Kansas has not won a regular season finale or defeated an AP Top-12 team since 2008 (Missouri). The Jayhawks are 26-174-2 all-time against ranked opponents, which includes a 15-84-2 mark at home.