Bears bow out on ‘blackout,’ Big 12 title hopes shattered

Baylor football freshman running back Richard Reese runs up the middle during a conference game against No. 19 Kansas State University on Nov. 12, 2022 at McLane Stadium. Photo courtesy of Baylor Athletics

By Michael Haag | Sports Editor

In a game where Baylor football had a lot to play for, someone forgot to tell the Bears.

Baylor was throttled by No. 19 Kansas State University 31-3 Saturday evening at McLane Stadium. The Bears struggled to move the ball the entire game, as they only mustered a field goal at the end of the first half. It marked just the second time Baylor failed to get into the end zone in McLane Stadium history.

The loss makes it extremely unlikely for Baylor (6-4, 4-3 Big 12) to make it back to the Big 12 championship game, while KSU (7-3, 5-2 Big 12) is sitting pretty in the second spot behind No. 4 ranked and unbeaten Texas Christian University.

Head coach Dave Aranda said he’s been battling getting the team to show up and play at its best all year. In weeks prior he’s mentioned immaturity and complacency issues, but this week he called it a “tug of war.”

“With this team, every day of every week of every month has been a constant push and pull and really tug of war to get our best selves to show up,” Aranda said. “So, it continues on, and it’s a good fight to have. There is so much potential there, and there’s a greatness there that likes to stay hidden. And you really have to work to get brave enough to show up. So, we’re aiming to do that.”

Fifth-year senior linebacker Dillon Doyle was crushed after the game and said it was a tough pill for the team to swallow.

“I just walked into a locker room with a hundred of my best friends. They’re as heartbroken as me and they all love each other,” Doyle said. “I think just keeping things in perspective that we play football to go through the growth processes to make us better for life, and that’s a big part of being at Baylor.”

While the Bears were only outgained 405-306 in total yardage, the stats were misleading in this one. Baylor was flattened from the start and never had an answer for a Wildcats team that has now held three Big 12 squads to no touchdowns.

KSU head coach Chris Klieman said it was a pleasant surprise to have such a dominant win and that he has great respect for Aranda and his program.

“We’ve done this a couple times but we don’t know if we saw that one coming,” Klieman said. “This is a great win because I know how hard it is to win here. I’ve just got so much respect for Dave Aranda. He’s one of my favorite coaches. He does things the right way. We’re trying to emulate a lot of the things honestly that they do.”

On the Wildcats’ first drive, they were faced with a 4th-and-6 on the Bears’ 36. They went for it and were sacked, igniting an eruption from the blackout McLane Stadium crowd. Baylor had a rhythm and marched 44 yards down the field, but sophomore quarterback Blake Shapen threw a pick inside the 10-yard line.

The interception was the start of the Bears’ downfall.

KSU stormed 97 yards down the field and took a 7-0 advantage before scoring 10 more unanswered. The Bears’ field goal to close the half and stop the 17-straight Wildcats points was the main source of offense from the entire game.

The Bears got the ball to open the second half and — much like their first drive — had something going as they drove into Wildcat territory. But on 4th-and-10 from Kansas State’s 36-yard line, Shapen missed his receiver, the first of three failed fourth down conversions in the second half.

It was all KSU the rest of the way, as they scored two more touchdowns to make it 31-3.

Junior running back Craig “Sqwirl” Williams said “there was some shock” among the team after the blowout loss. Williams said the team felt confident after a strong week of preparation.

“Coming into this game we had a great gameplan,” Williams said. “We were really looking forward to coming out on top of this game. They came out and played a little harder than us. Props to them. We’ll learn from it. We’ll come back to work on Monday and get ready for TCU.”

Baylor will stay put to host No. 4 Texas Christian University Saturday at McLane Stadium. The game is slated for 11 a.m. and will be broadcast on FOX.

Doyle said the team needs to keep a short term memory of this game, just like they do with wins or any other loss. He called it “the 24-hour rule.”

“It’s big in football,” Doyle said. “You win a game. It’s 24 hours, you turn it over and it’s on to the next one. You lose a game. You eat it, box it up and move on. This hurt for everybody. Obviously, everybody knows what was on the line tonight. Probably too much. You box it and move on. It’s really hard to do.”