PREVIEW: Football team travels to Waco looking to get back on track

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Baylor and K-State lineup during last year's meeting at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. The Bears defeated the Wildcats, 31-12. (File Photo by Dalton Wainscott | Collegian Media Group)

The football team (4-4) travels to Waco, Texas, to face Baylor (1-5) on Saturday night, hoping to avoid a season finish with a losing record in Chris Klieman’s second year at the helm.

Kansas State failed to put points on the board in a 45-0 shellacking at the hands of Iowa State last Saturday, to which Klieman said there was no silver lining. The loss was the third straight for K-State and bumped the Wildcats out of Big 12 Championship contention.

True freshman quarterback Will Howard is listed as the starter so far in the matchup against Baylor, but junior quarterback Nick Ast could see more reps this week. Ast saw action in the second half after Howard struggled to do anything for the Wildcats in the first half against the Cyclones. Ast went 6-10 for 44 yards in his relief effort.

The K-State air attack has also struggled as of late and is currently the second-worst in the Big 12 Conference with just over 199 passing yards per game and a dismal 55.4 completion percentage.

The K-State offense has struggled to gain any momentum during their three-game skid.

However, freshman running back Deuce Vaughn is still the bright spot for the Wildcats. Vaughn leads the team in rushing and receiving yards, and is the only player in the conference to lead his team in both categories.

Baylor comes off a bye week looking to let out some frustration after a five-game skid, including back-to-back comeback losses at the hands of Iowa State and Texas Tech. Senior quarterback Charlie Brewer has thrown for 1,278 yards and 11 touchdowns so far this season.

The Bears are sixth in the conference in offensive scoring with 26.8 points per game. The Wildcats are slightly under that mark at eighth in the conference, scoring 25.5 points per contest.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Vaughn is getting a lot of attention from defenses, and Baylor will likely have to spy on him for most of the game. This season, the offense has relied on plenty of big days from Vaughn and will need another big day from him to even stand a chance against the Bears.

The Bears are eighth in the Big 12 when it comes to defending against the ground attack. Baylor has given up an average of 171 yards on the ground per game this season.

The Bears have also had issues protecting their quarterback this season, allowing 17 sacks so far this year — the fourth-most in the Big 12. This works in the Wildcat’s favor as the duo of junior defensive end Wyatt Hubert and senior defensive tackle Drew Wiley have combined for nine sacks this season.

Senior running back John Lovett was a crucial piece for the Bears in the matchup last season, rushing for 74 yards and two touchdowns in the 31-12 win for Baylor. This year Baylor has the worst rushing offense in the conference, rushing for just 107 yards per game so far. Even with Baylor’s porous rushing attack, K-State’s defense has allowed 172.6 rush yards per game, which is the third most per game in the Big 12. Establishing the run game has been the key for K-State foes this year.

Saturday’s matchup will be just the eighteenth meeting between the teams, with the Wildcats holding a 9-8 advantage all-time. K-State is once again the 5.5-point underdog and is 2-2 this season as the road underdog. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. on ESPN2.

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