By Tyler Alley
Saturday’s game against Kansas State should have looked very familiar for Baylor football. There was a late lead lost in the fourth quarter. Junior quarterback Robert Griffin III and senior receiver Kendall Wright were both putting up ridiculous numbers.
The opponent’s color was even purple, but unlike the TCU game, Baylor did not make a last-ditch effort to win, losing 36-35.
“We played with a whole lot of passion and effort Saturday, and played a good football team,” head coach Art Briles said. “Kansas State’s a good football team. I don’t want to take away anything from them. But we certainly let one slip through our fingers.”
Baylor (3-1) shot itself in the foot with eight penalties for 103 yards and three turnovers, including Griffin’s interception — his first of the season — late in the fourth quarter that led to Kansas State (4-0) hitting go-ahead field goal. Griffin said after the game that the blame goes to him for the loss.
“We didn’t win, so who do you point the finger at?” Griffin said. “Point it at me. I’m not going to take it pointing at anyone else. I’m the guy who gets all the fame, so I got to take all the blame as well. I’ll take on that burden because I know I can handle it.”
Baylor still had a chance to come back on its final drive, taking over at its own 27-yard line with 3:05 left in the game. After a sack on first down for a loss of 3 yards, Griffin threw to junior receiver Terrance Williams for nine yards, followed by a 2-yard run by senior tailback Terrance Ganaway.
On fourth-and-2, Griffin looked right for Wright but his pass was batted at the line, sealing the victory for the Wildcats.
“It sucks, but that’s the way the game is played,” Griffin said. “They made a play there and that won them the game. It’s tough to look back on that, but we got to move forward and learn from the whole experience, come home and take care of what’s ours.”
The Heisman candidate still had a great game, throwing for 346 yards and five touchdowns, but best player for Baylor in this game was Wright. The receiver had nine catches for 201 yards and three touchdowns, two of which were great highlight-reel plays.
In the second quarter, Wright caught a pass over the middle, avoided defenders, then somehow tip-toed down the sidelines for about 20 yards before diving into the end zone for a 43-yard score. That wasn’t even his play of the game.
In the third quarter, on a fourth-and-5, Wright had a crowd-silencing full-extension diving catch over his back shoulder for the 35-yard touchdown.
“When I was watching the ball in the air, I was like, ‘This ball is too far,’ but I had to accelerate,” Wright said. “It was instinct, just diving to get it. That was the hardest catch I’ve ever had to make by far: back shoulder and diving. I knew I caught it the whole time.”
Griffin said the play was only supposed to get them the first down, but that an opportunity like that could not be passed up.
“I knew he was going to run vertical,” Griffin said. “The safety was sitting there at seven yards flat-footed. Kendall ran right past him. The ball didn’t get to him as clean as we’d like, but he made the catch. After watching the film, that’s a great catch. Kendall’s that guy: he’ll catch anything you throw near him.”
Still, the effort was not enough to push the Bears to victory.
“I’m sick that we can’t enjoy that game,” Briles said. “Because that’s as good of a play as I’ve seen made in a long time. That just shows the effort and attitude and passion. That’s the thing I love about Kendall. He’s going to play with every fiber of his body. I respect the heck out of him for that.”
Baylor’s attempt at its first 4-0 start since 1991 and its first conference-opening road in school history.
Baylor outgained the Wildcats through the air 346 yards to 146 yards but allowed 210 rushing yards while only earning 83. Kansas State’s time of possession was double Baylor’s in the first half.