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Baylor Preview

Kansas and Baylor open conference play in Waco.

Oklahoma v Baylor Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Kansas and Baylor have both completed their Covid testing with zero positive results, and as of approximately 3 PM on Friday afternoon, the Jayhawks have boarded their plane to Waco, TX, where they will face off against Baylor to open Big 12 play in Waco on Saturday evening.

PREGAME

Kansas is 1-0 all-time in games following a loss to Coastal Carolina.

Baylor leads the all-time series vs Kansas by a (rather embarrassing) 15-4 margin. The Jayhawks have never won in Waco and have dropped 10-straight overall to the Bears.

As of kickoff, it will have been 4,375 days since KU’s last conference road win. That can also be figured as 625 weeks, or 143 months. KU’s last Big 12 road game victory was 10/4/2008 at Iowa State.

Due to Covid postponements, this is Baylor’s season opener.

FIRST DOWN

For the second year in a row, Kansas looks to avenge an embarrassing home defeat by going on the road. Last year, the Jayhawks were able to stun Boston College, 48-24, but this year, they will have to win a road conference game - something that, as mentioned above, has been nigh impossible for KU to do over the last 12 years.

Baylor, meanwhile, comes into this matchup with a practically brand-new defense after losing 8 starters from last year’s squad. The Jayhawks may have a chance to move the ball, but they’ll have to avoid the first half doldrums that plagued the offense in several games last season, as well as two weeks ago against Coastal Carolina.

(TL;DR - Start faster on offense!)

SECOND DOWN

Speaking of offense, do you have any idea who the quarterback is going to be? Because I don’t. It seems like a lot of folks were enamored with the way Miles Kendrick played; I thought he was just OK. I’m still fully on #TeamMacVittie, although we don’t know much about the shoulder injury he suffered in the third quarter of the Coastal game. (If you have a 247Sports subscription, click here to see why MacVittie was graded the better QB per Pro Football Focus.)

Additionally, we don’t know Pooka’s status. We don’t even know if either Pooka or MacVittie will be available against Baylor, or if they are, how effective they will be.

Kansas fans are going through “Backup Quarterback Syndrome” right now, with plenty of folks on Twitter (and likely other social media pages) calling for Jalon Daniels to play the rest of the way. Who knows if he will or not, but I’ll say again what I said two weeks ago and what I said a few paragraphs ago - the offense cannot sputter in the first half - and I don’t care who the quarterback is. If the offense can’t get going early, KU will most likely find itself down big. Again.

THIRD DOWN

Kansas was minus-3 in turnovers in the Coastal game two weeks ago, which is a continuation of how 2019 went, where KU finished the season -12 in turnover margin (not including fourth down attempts). That was good for 124th out of 130 teams. I still say the Jayhawks are due a regression to the mean, and in this case, that’s a good thing.

FOURTH DOWN

If you thought the advanced metrics prior to the Coastal game didn’t look good, you may want to avert your eyes here. S&P+ projects a 30-point Kansas loss, giving the Jayhawks just a 4% chance of pulling out the win. (In other words, the current line of Baylor -17.5 looks like easy money if you’re in Vegas this weekend.)

ESPN’s FPI Matchup Predictor is more favorable, but still gives KU just an 8% chance at victory.

This time, Sagarin agrees with the other two, showing Kansas with a 7% chance at victory.

PREDICTION

Sigh. Based on the first couple of weeks of college football, Kansas has a pretty good advantage in that they have already played a game. The Jayhawks have seen game speed and have hit another color jersey, and that seemed to be an advantage for teams in the first couple weeks of the season. Also consider that Baylor is breaking in tons of new starters, particularly on defense.

You could say the three keys to this game are, 1) Start fast on offense, 2) Limit big plays on defense, and 3) Mitigate turnovers, but you could literally say that in any preview, ever.

A lot of KU’s struggles against Coastal Carolina were self-inflicted - a receiver knocking a pass up in the air for an INT, a fumble when the ball strikes the helmet of a teammate who’s trying to block, etc. Even if those hadn’t happened, though, KU still likely loses that game by more than one score. The Jayhawks were just dominated, especially in the trenches, and Baylor, quite frankly, will be even better.

I know I called for a shootout over the summer, but I didn’t see much out of the offense that I liked two weeks ago. Additionally, we don’t know Pooka’s status (foot/ankle), and we have even less of an idea now than we did two weeks ago of who the quarterback is going to be. Additionally, I can only imagine that Baylor QB Charlie Brewer has to be salivating after watching KU’s defensive “performance” against Coastal. I know it’s only been one game, but I’m all out of kool-aid. Baylor 58, Kansas 24.

EXTRA POINT

Remember last year’s season finale in Lawrence? Kansas wasn’t even a speed bump for Baylor on their way to the Big 12 Championship game, as the Bears thumped the Jayhawks 61-6. Which leads me to: the average final score of the KU-Baylor game since 2010 is 49-12 (rounding up). KU has scored more than 14 points in this matchup just once in the last 10 years.