No. 25 K-State 6-3 (4-2)
Kansas State is coming off their nail-biting loss to Texas in overtime. The heartbreaker revealed both strengths and weaknesses of the team. The secondary had issues covering top-end wide receivers and the offensive run game was limited when the Longhorns were ready for it. Still, quarterback Will Howard displayed a rejuvenated passing game while the defense showed resilience in bouncing back against a struggling quarterback. The loss leaves the Wildcats with a much tougher chance of making the Big 12 Championship game. Nevertheless, in a chaotic Big 12, anything could happen for K-State to make it back to the title game.
Baylor 3-6 (2-4)
Very little has gone right for the Baylor Bears after their 2021 Big 12 Championship. After a 6-7 2022 record, Baylor regressed even more to a .333 winning percentage this season. Losing quarterback Blake Shapen for three games did not help their cause. The season may have come to an all-time low after losing to Houston 25-24 in overtime after the Cougars completed a game-ending two-point conversion. The Bears are in a difficult spot to make a bowl game, likely needing to win the remainder of their games. That all starts with a K-State team that has dominated the Big 12 outside of Texas and Oklahoma State.
Matchup to Watch: K-State defense vs. Blake Shapen
Defensive coordinator Joe Klandermann and the K-State defense have suffocated opposing quarterbacks lately. Quarterbacks threw seven interceptions against the Wildcats in the past four games. They have also all failed to reach a 60% completion percentage outside of Texas Tech quarterback Behren Morton, who only played in the first half against K-State. Now the Wildcats face a veteran quarterback in Baylor’s Blake Shapen.
Shapen is one of few positives for the suffering Bears team. After missing time in September for injury, Shapen has averaged nearly 300 yards per game while only throwing two interceptions on the season. Still, he hasn’t been a star. With a struggling offensive line, Shapen was sacked 19 times since returning from injury while only throwing for eight scores on the season.
K-State and Shapen faced off twice, with split results. Shapen’s first appearance came in 2021 as a result of injury. He threw for 137 yards on 16-of-21 throwing in the 20-10. Last year K-State turned the tables, recording two interceptions against Shapen in a 31-3 blowout against Baylor. Shapen must pull out one of his best performances to avoid a repeat of 2022.
Wide receiver Phillip Brooks
Safety Kobe Savage
Wide receiver Monaray Baldwin
Cornerback Caden Jenkins