S Terrell Burt vs. S Ty Zimmerman
After playing in all 13 games as a true freshman last season, Burt is now in his first season as a starter for Baylor. A year ago, he was one of only three true freshmen on the team to even play in a game, and the only one to play in all of them. This season, Burt has stepped into the starting role and performed right away, with 21 tackles and a 63-yard interception return against Louisiana-Monroe. Burt is beginning to look like a solid safety for the Bears, and is an important piece in not only their secondary, but their defense as well. Baylor’s defense has allowed teams to complete a paltry 44.6 percent of their passes, while gaining just 2.5 yards per carry on the ground this season, stellar numbers by any measure. While Burt may not be the only reason that the Baylor defense has found success this season, he is a key player for a team that is allowing only 16.2 points per game.
For Zimmerman, the story is less about his growth as a player and more about what he has continuously shown in his time at K-State. Zimmerman is second on the team with 39 tackles and has one interception so far this season. The four-year starter at safety had to miss the Wildcats’ loss at Baylor last season with an injury, and his presence in the secondary was sorely missed. The Bears ran all over K-State and their BCS title hopes. Zimmerman will get a chance to show how he can impact a big game, and he will have his hands full with a Baylor offense averaging over 70 points per game.
Edge: Zimmerman. Many pointed to his absence last time the two teams met as a reason why the Bears came out on top. By no means was his absence the only culprit of the loss, but this time around he will be there to make some big plays for the Wildcats.
RB Lache Seastrunk vs. QB Daniel Sams
Seastrunk is nothing short of a monster with the ball in his hands. He has game-breaking speed that he exhibited with 185 yards on 19 carries in the last meeting between the two teams. His yards-per-carry average (11.1) is first in the nation this season. He is 14th in the nation in rushing yards (589), and his eight touchdowns have him tied for fifth nationally. These numbers are impacted by the fact that he hasn’t played significantly in the second half because all their games had been decided by that point. He had an incredible amount of hype coming into the 2013-2014 season and has delivered so far. The 5-10, 210 pound junior is licking his chops for another big game against the Wildcats.
Sams is the best runner that the Wildcats have had so far, but his numbers are not as lofty as Seastrunk’s. K-State’s sophomore quarterback has 323 yards on 56 carries, good for 5.8 yards per carry. Compared to Seastrunk, those numbers may seem pedestrian, but he is eighth in the Big 12 in rushing yards, and has the most by a quarterback in the league. Sams is an elusive and slippery runner, he’s hard to bring down and he always falls forward for the extra yard. He has the ability to tear open a defense with his legs, the question is how many carries will he get in the two-quarterback offense.
Edge: Seastrunk. Baylor may have the best running back in the country, and if Seastrunk continues to dominate, he may run himself into the Heisman discussion.
DE Shawn Oakman vs. DE Ryan Mueller
Oakman has about as fitting a last name as a defensive lineman can have, standing at 6-9, 275 pounds. The sophomore transfer from Penn State was kicked off the Nittany Lions squad for an incident in which he tried to steal a sandwich from a campus convenience store last year. The mammoth defensive end is trying to put the past behind him now, and is finding success with the Bears. His nine tackles-for-loss lead the Big 12 and is tied for second nationally, showing why there was so much hype surrounding him coming out of high school.
Mueller leads the Wildcats and is sixth in the Big 12 with 5.5 tackles for loss and is tied for first on the team with two sacks. He is the undisputed leader of the defensive line, and works with a tireless motor on every play, whether it is getting to the quarterback or stopping the running back. A former walk-on, Mueller has become one of the biggest leaders on the field for K-State in his junior year. At 6-2, 245, he may not have the outrageous size of Oakman, but he knows how to create a push in the trenches.
Edge: Oakman. We have not seen much out of Oakman yet, but what we have has been dominant. Both players are in their first year as a starter, and while Mueller has been good, Oakman has game-wrecking ability on the defensive line.
Spencer Low is a senior in political science. Please send all comments to email@example.com.