MANHATTAN, KAN. – Baylor suffered a late scare but was able to come away with the win Thursday in freshman quarterback Jarrett Stidham’s debut as starting quarterback. No. 6 Baylor defeated Kansas State 31-24 to remain undefeated.
Both teams entered the contest with very different forms of play. Baylor won seven consecutive games with an FBS margin of victory of 36 points. Kansas State had lost all four of its opening conference matchups.
Many had speculated the Bears would exemplify a run-heavy offense and ease Stidham into his new role. But head coach Art Briles and the offense had different plans.
Baylor didn’t miss a beat with the change of quarterback. The No. 1 offense in the country rolled to 522 yards of total offense as they racked up first downs effortlessly.
Taking advantage of the national stage, Stidham led Baylor to its eighth straight victory over the Wildcats. Stidham threw for 419 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions.
The passing total set a Baylor game-high for the 2015 season. The previous mark was set by junior quarterback Seth Russell (380 passing yards against West Virginia on Oct. 17).
Heisman and Biletnikoff contender, junior wide receiver Corey Coleman was also true to form. Stidham and Coleman hooked up nine times for 207 yards and two touchdowns.
One of the most spectacular catches made by Coleman was on a back-shoulder, fade pass from Stidham. The ball was thrown a bit low, and Coleman readjusted in mid-air, while reaching over the defender’s back to haul in touchdown No. 20 of the season.
The score made Coleman the 12th player in FBS history to record 20 receiving touchdowns in a season. He is now five touchdowns from tying the Big 12 record for receiving touchdowns in a season and seven scores from breaking the NCAA record.
Defensively, Baylor maintained its “bend but don’t break” persona.
While the Bears gave up 430 yards of offense, it limited the Wildcats to 24 points, despite Kansas State’s overwhelming 38 minutes of possession.
Baylor allowed 172 yards through the air, but uncharacteristically gave up 258 yards on the ground.
A noticeable factor limiting the Bears’ effectiveness to stop the run was junior nose tackle Andrew Billings’ ankle injury.
Although reports had circulated throughout the week that the run stopper was 90 percent healthy, he appeared to be favoring the injury nearly every play.
Kansas State took advantage of the Bears’ inability to stop the run, as they averaged 5.4 yards per rush.
Although the run defense struggled throughout the night, the Baylor pass defense held the Wildcat offense in check.
Junior Ryan Reid came up with a game-changing interception that led to a Baylor score in the first half. Kansas State collected 172 yards on 22 attempts.
While the scoreline was close, the Bears seemed to control the game throughout. Next up for Baylor will be a home game against No. 15 Oklahoma on Nov. 14 in Waco.