By Krista Pirtle
Baylor rocked college football and stunned the nation with its 52-24 demolition of the No. 1 team in the nation Saturday evening. The Bears, however, weren’t all that surprised.
“All week we believed we were going to beat them, and we weren’t going to be surprised when it happened,” senior quarterback Nick Florence said.
Belief was the key word for Baylor under the lights, filling the gaps for a football team that has been lack luster all season.
With the prime time slot on ESPN, many figured it would be the coming out party for Heisman front-runner Kansas State senior quarterback Collin Klein.
Instead, with Klein going 27-of-50 for 286 yards through the air, only 39 yards on the ground and a trio of interceptions, it gave the nation the opportunity to see the Wildcats get wacked in Waco.
“Oh, everyone’s jumping up and down,” Florence said. “Water and Gatorade is flying around everywhere. That’s the kind of locker room I want after every game.”
The Bears’ two mantras for the season are start fast and finish strong. By scoring on the first drive and stuffing Kansas State on the one-yard line four downs in a row, Baylor was going to work.
“I think we just had a lot of energy,” head coach Art Briles said. “A whole lot of energy, whole lot of belief and a whole lot of want to. When you’ve got that going in your favor, you’ve got the chance to have good results.”
The “thunder and lightning” duo of running backs junior Glasco Martin and sophomore Lache Seastrunk both had career nights for Baylor.
Martin had a hat trick, scoring three touchdowns and rushing for 113 yards.
Seastrunk recorded 185 yards, including an 80-yard touchdown.
Baylor ran for 342 yards, far surpassing the Wildcats’ 76.
So far this season, Kansas State has averaged 213 yards per game on the ground.
“They took the fight to us and I thought we weren’t well enough prepared for it,” Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder said. “We struggled on both sides of the ball and I think we were just not prepared, and I take full control on that.”
Through the air wasn’t so pretty either, with 286 yards and a trio of interceptions for Klein.
“That was our main thing, to keep Collin Klein uncomfortable,” junior nickel back Ahmad Dixon said. “If he was comfortable back there, we knew that we were going to have a long night, and that was something we didn’t want to deal with, facing a quarterback of his caliber. He’s just not any quarterback that you see in this league. He has a special gift, and we wanted to try and make him the most uncomfortable as we possibly can. That’s what we did and it worked out for us.”
Junior cornerback Joe Williams led the Baylor defense with 11 tackles, nine solo and two interceptions.
Dixon and sophomore linebacker Bryce Hager followed up with 10 tackles each.
Dixon had a quarterback hurry. Hager had a sack, two tackles for loss, a break-up and a pair of quarterback hurries.
Junior safety Sam Holl caught the other interception at the beginning of the third quarter and returned it for 18 yards.
“I mean you kind of had that eerie feeing before the game,” junior linebacker Eddie Lackey said. “I think everybody had it. Everybody had just like a weird feeling in their stomach. You could just see the look in everybody’s eyes. The coaching staff knew it. It was just one of those things like I said with the energy, as soon as we got out there, we made a stop and we all looked at each other as a defense and said, ‘Let’s keep this thing going.’ So it was a great feeling.”
On the defensive side for Kansas State, the Wildcats were without their top safety, junior Ty Zimmerman. Baylor took advantage of the backup just under two minutes into the game, as junior receiver Tevin Reese beat him for a 36-yard touchdown reception.
Kansas State answered with another touchdown of its own but didn’t score again until notching 10 straight points with under two minutes left in the first half.
Baylor scored first in the second half, but it seemed as if the momentum switched with 12:55 to go in the third quarter when Florence threw an interception at Baylor’s own one-yard line.
“Honestly, I thought the guy running down the side with Antwan [Goodley] was the corner,” Florence said. “So, I thought T-Dub [Terrance Williams] was standing wide open. I never saw the corner, I guess he was in my blind spot with the lineman. I literally thought T-Dub was wide open, fixing to make 10, 15 yards. It was unfortunate, but we overcame. The defense didn’t get down. The offense didn’t get down. We put a complete game together. You’ve got to overcome adversity in ball games, and we did that.”
After that, junior kicker Aaron Jones made a 50-yarder, Martin punched it in the end zone and Seastrunk turned on the jets for a career-best 80-yard touchdown run.
The Wildcats took eight minutes off the clock in the beginning of the fourth quarter, marching down the field to the red zone.
At first-and-goal on the Baylor six, Klein rushed for four yards before being tackled by Lackey.
At second-and-goal on the Baylor two, Klein rushed for a yard before being tackled by Dixon.
At third-and-goal on the Baylor one, Klein didn’t gain anything as Holl stopped him in his tracks.
At fourth-and-goal on the Baylor one, Klein was stuffed again by Lackey for no gain on the play.
“We’ve been getting bashed for weeks,” Hager said. Knowing the No. 1 team was coming in; we just had a different mindset. To prove every one wrong, it’s a great feeling.”
After the goal line stuff, the Bears got the rock and never looked back.
“It’s just a great night to be a Baylor Bear,” Briles said.
What once was white is now green, as Pat Neff shines as a beacon of success after the country watched the top team in America fall in Waco.