No. 3 Baylor crushes Kansas to stay unbeaten
Seth Russell wanted to keep playing. So did Corey Coleman and Shock Linwood.
Baylor coach Art Briles is certain they'll see more of the field in the coming weeks.
Russell tossed three touchdown passes, two of them to Coleman, and Linwood ran for 135 yards and a score as third-ranked Baylor romped to 66-7 victory over Kansas on Saturday.
All three stars sat the entire second half, resting for what Baylor (5-0, 2-0 Big 12) hopes is a national title push. They've blown out every opponent so far, but still have a tough road ahead, including Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and TCU in consecutive weeks to finish the regular season.
"I feel like we have one of the freshest football teams in America at this point," Briles said. "They're going to like playing full games here in a few weeks."
Russell threw for 246 yards in his two quarters. Two of his TD strikes went to Coleman, pushing his nation-leading total to 13, and the other went to 6-foot-7, 410-pound tight end LaQuan McGowan as the Bears roared to a 52-7 halftime lead.
It was the seventh straight Big 12 win for Baylor, and one that was hardly unexpected: The Jayhawks (0-5, 0-2) were 46-point underdogs, a record for a visiting team in Big 12 play.
Turns out the odds-makers were being kind.
"You definitely want to play the whole game, but it's great for our young guys. They got a lot of experience," Russell said. "Experience is valuable, especially at this stage, this level."
Kansas freshman Ryan Willis got a bit of it. He threw for 158 yards and a score in his first start, but he also tossed a pick and lost a fumble that was returned for a touchdown.
The Jayhawks' top two quarterbacks, Montell Cozart and Deondre Ford, are both hurt. So were their top two wide receivers, Bobby Hartzog Jr. and Tre Parmelee. And their best cover cornerback, Brandon Stewart, left with a groin injury early in the game.
Not exactly the way to face one of the nation's most dynamic teams.
The Bears piled up 644 yards, a total that could have been even larger had the backups not played the second half. Second-string quarterback Jarrett Stidham was 9 of 10 for 217 yards and two touchdowns, while Johnny Jefferson ran for 79 yards and another score.
Baylor didn't have to punt until there was 5 minutes left in the game.
"You've got to stop those guys when you get the chance," Kansas coach David Beaty said.
With fall break going on at Kansas, and Late Night at the Phog having kept Jayhawk basketball fans up Friday night, there were more empty seats than full ones Saturday.
That might have been a good thing.
There weren't many people around to see the rout.
The quick-strike Bears scored on every possession of the first half except their last, and that was only because they ran out of time. Their first three touchdown drives all went more than 70 yards, yet none of their scoring drives required more than 3 minutes, 14 seconds.
Russell was 18-of-27 passing and ran for a score. Linwood, the nation's fifth-leading rusher, averaged more than 10 yards per carry. Coleman had seven receptions for 108 yards.
Even the Baylor defense got into the act, stripping Willis late in the first half. Xavien Howard picked up the fumble and scampered down the Kansas sideline 30 yards for a touchdown.
"When you have guys that are old, which we have a lot of those guys -- fourth- and fifth-year guys at critical positions -- when those guys are sharp and mentally right and focused and are ready to compete at a high level, you're going to be all right," Briles said.
The only bright spot for Kansas came on its opening series. Willis converted a long third down with a pretty pass to Jeremiah Booker, then hit Steven Sims with a 36-yard touchdown pass.
"You don't like to lose," Jayhawks tight end Kent Taylor said. "I don't know if it's possible to completely block (the score) out in your head. You have to keep making strides, no matter what the score is."