No. 6 Baylor heads back on road to face Kansas
Baylor has played like a finely tuned Rolex at home, the timing of its offense perfect, every last piece working in perfect unison to put up some record-setting numbers.
Things were a bit different when Bears went on the road for the first time.
Their offense was held to roughly half of their season average by Kansas State, and they found themselves trailing in the second half. But behind the splendid play of quarterback Bryce Petty and a vastly underappreciate defense, they still managed to squeak out a 35-25 victory.
''What we did at K-State, how we kind of battled through that, especially how we've been rolling through people, just that adversity, that challenge, we know we can get through anything'' Petty said. ''It doesn't matter where we play or who we play or when we play.''
Now, Baylor heads back on the road for the second time this season to face Kansas on Saturday night, a program that has lost 24 straight Big 12 games.
The odds-makers put the Bears (6-0, 3-0) at better than five touchdown favorites, partly as a response to the 71-7 smacking they delivered to Iowa State last weekend.
The Jayhawks (2-4, 0-3) haven't won a league game in nearly three years.
''The only team that's slowed them down was Kansas State, and remember, they only played one game on the road,'' Kansas coach Charlie Weis said. ''It's not quite the same on the road as it is at home. I'm hoping for a loud, boisterous crowd to make it not so easy on them.''
That may be asking a lot. Empty seats have been plentiful at Memorial Stadium during another down year at Kansas, and the heat is starting grow under Weis to turn things around.
At times, it is clear progress has been made. At others, it's just as painfully clear that the Jayhawks have a long way to go to reach the upper echelon of the Big 12.
''Everybody feels like Kansas is an underdog,'' Jayhawks cornerback Dexter McDonald said. ''We don't really have too many people's respect and I feel like it's a chip on our shoulder.''
Whether that makes a difference will be seen Saturday night. Here are five other things to watch for in the game:
BAYLOR'S D: Everybody likes to highlight the video game-like numbers that the Baylor offense produces, but its defense is salty, too. The Bears are allowing 317.3 yards per game and nearly shut out the Cyclones last weekend. ''We were really pulling for it, but it wasn't that big of a deal,'' Baylor linebacker Eddie Lackey said. ''Any time you can beat a team 71-7 is a pretty big deal. We're not disappointed at all. We still look at it as a dominating victory.''
QB QUESTIONS: The Jayhawks ripped the redshirt off freshman quarterback Montell Cozart last week in a 34-19 loss to Oklahoma. Considering Jake Heaps threw for just 16 yards in that game, there's a good chance Cozart will play against the Bears. ''For me personally, you have to have the same approach all the time,'' Heaps said, ''and that's how it has to be.''
STAYING HUMBLE: The Bears are chasing their school-record 11th straight win. They're also seeking their first 7-0 start since 1980. ''I don't think we need humbling because we're humble to begin with. You don't try to humble a person that's already humble,'' Baylor coach Art Briles said. ''We've played six and been fortunate enough to win six and that's it. Right now we're surviving, just like everyone else in America.''
SETTLING DOWN: After jostling the starting lineup, particularly along the offensive line, Kansas finally appears to have settled on a starting group. And that could be good news. ''I think it's invaluable,'' Weis said. ''Now you've sold into these are the guys and these are the first backup for these guys. It helps with the chemistry.''
BEWARE, KU: The Bears were heavily favored heading to Kansas two years ago, only to scrape out an overtime win behind Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III. ''That was a tough, hard-fought game,'' Baylor defensive back Sam Holl recalled. ''The main thing is carrying the momentum we have at home and taking it up to Kansas to get a big win there.''