Powercat Gameday Panel: Baylor

November 18, 20160 Comments

Welcome to another installation of the Powercat Gameday panel, where we answer your questions about K-State football. After a much needed bye week, K-State heads to Waco to face the Baylor Bears. As always, Powercat Gameday will be on the road broadcasting live at the place to be for K-State fans making the road trip.

Come join the crew at The Salty Dog Sports Bar and Grill where we will be on the air bright and early starting at 7 a.m. If you can’t make it down for the game, you can tune to Powercat Gameday on KMAN to get you ready for what should be another exciting K-State football matchup.

Thanks as always to everyone who submitted a question to this week’s Powercat Gameday Panel. To submit a question tweet us at @PowercatGameday or to any of the panelists: @jlkurtz, @Cole_Manbeck, or @StantonWeber.

Let’s get to it:

ben-question

John: It’s pretty simple. Unless you’re a big brand like Texas or Oklahoma, you’re not going to get the primetime slots when you’re hovering around .500. For instance, the game this week is a fading Baylor team that no longer has any relevance in the league title or college football playoff races against a 5-4 K-State team. That’s not going to command a whole lot of TV sets outside of the respective fanbases.

I suppose the one that could frustrate you is the fact that Texas-Kansas is on at 2:30. That’s the power of the Texas brand at work. Not only do they bring a lot of eyeballs, but there’s the storyline of Charlie Strong’s job status. Honestly, ESPN/ABC may be hoping that Texas gets beat or at least pushed to the brink so that the job security talk is really at the forefront.

Cole: Unfortunately, this is what often happens when you aren’t a top-25 team. The Big 12 is down this year so many of the matchups aren’t as intriguing nationally compared to previous years. The Wildcats haven’t really had many matchups that would be considered big games. I honestly can’t complain about any of the games that were selected for 11 a.m. kicks. They’re not ideal, but I don’t mind them on the road as the opposing crowd isn’t as into the game.

Stanton: John and Cole cover why the Big 12 keeps scheduling K-State for the early kicks. I’ll give you a taste of the player’s perspective. The majority of the team really likes the 11 AM kickoffs. In a long season where the players have practice on Thanksgiving and Christmas, down time comes at a premium. A game that kicks at 6 PM means the players sit in a hotel all day anxiously waiting to play. When the game ends, their whole day has been taken up with football versus an 11 AM kick where they are finished before dinner. I always loved having half a Saturday off to see family, be a regular college student, and have a little time to recharge. I also feel like the road team has an advantage when the game kicks at 11. The visitors are excited to wake up, win the game, and get home. While the home team and the home crowd usually take a quarter or two to wake up. So while fans may not love them, I don’t mind it this weekend for the sake of the team.

Cole: Aside from all of the off-the-field distractions at the university, I would say it’s the passing game. The Bears are averaging 5.2 yards per rush this season. From 2010-15, they averaged 5.2 yards per rush. So there’s not much of a difference there. Here are some numbers that show the difference in the Baylor passing attack:

  • From 2010-15, Baylor’s average pass efficiency rating was 165. During that time, the Bears on average ranked No. 7 in the country in pass efficiency offense. Baylor ranked in the top 20 nationally in each of those 6 seasons in pass efficiency. This season, the Bears have a pass efficiency rating of 130, ranking No. 61 in the country.
  • From 2011-15, Baylor averaged 9.9 yards per pass attempt. This season, the Bears are averaging 7.6 yards per pass attempt, well below their previous averages.
  • Baylor is completing just 52% of its passes, ranking 116th out of 128 FBS teams and last in the Big 12.

The numbers indicate the Bears aren’t as explosive in the passing game.

Stanton: The biggest difference I see is what I would call “edge.” When an Art Briles Baylor team took the field, they had a sort of intensity that let you know, as an opponent, you were going to have to bring your best every play of the game.  It was part of the culture of that football team. When it comes to the culture of college football teams I’m a strong believer that it comes almost entirely from the head coach. Even with Briles’ assistants still there, I see a Baylor team that’s missing that edge, in large part due to the absence of Briles and the contrasting style of current head coach Jim Grobe.

John: Love Cole’s numbers there to illustrate the drop off in the passing game. It’s obviously a big deal that Seth Russell got knocked out for the season last week, but it really hadn’t been a banner year for him throwing the football already anyway.

I’ll take the angle here of the eye test. Baylor just doesn’t seem to have quite the same swagger to them that they did under Briles. This is the same program that had become known for having guys bouncing up and down dancing and wearing masks on the sidelines before kickoffs. Like it or not (seemingly most around the league didn’t), they had developed the reputation of being perhaps the most cocky group of players in the conference. I don’t mean that as a slight either…it worked. They won the league in back-to-back seasons.

To me, they don’t seem to have that same edge to them anymore. There’s flashes of it here and there, but it’s just not consistent. You have to think about everything that’s been weighing on those players for the last six months. They’ve dealt with losing their head coach, the media constantly coming after them, assistant coaches that still stick up for Briles and feel as though they’ve been wronged too and now the first three game losing streak for the program in four years. Eventually, the weight of all of that is going to get to you. It takes enough focus away from football that it’s just impossible to have everything clicking like it was during their glory years.

Stanton: I was honestly a little surprised to see K-State favored in Waco, even if Baylor appears to be on a tail spin. A true freshman making his first start at quarterback for the Bears, Baylor losing 3 straight, an 11 AM kick time, any of these could have swayed the lines makers to turn a toss-up game into one where the Cats are favored. One aspect of this game that I think deserves more credit is the fact that its Baylor’s senior day. They will be honoring one of the most successful classes of Baylor football players in the school’s recent history. The emotions involved with many players playing their last game in Waco may inspire a Baylor team, which has dealt with immense adversity off the field, to focus on winning a ball game Saturday.

John: I’ll admit that I was very surprised to see this line when it came out. However, if you do really dig into the matchup there’s a lot to like for K-State fans.

Baylor’s big weakness on defense has been stopping the run. They’ve allowed 250+ rushing yards in three straight games and K-State has rushed for 230+ in each of their last three games. The Bears biggest strength offensively, especially with a true freshman quarterback stepping in this week, is the run game. K-State’s defense leads the Big 12 in rush defense. Baylor also lost by 40 the last time they played in Waco and K-State is 8-0 against the spread coming off of a bye week since Snyder came back in 2009. I can definitely see how you’d build the case that K-State should win this game.

The real wildcard here is going to be what the mental state of Baylor is. Do they band together on senior day after seeing their unquestioned leader (Seth Russell) go down last week? Or is their season really coming apart at the seams? Baylor head coach Jim Grobe said earlier this week that the team wasn’t as focused as it should have been against Texas and TCU but banded together and put forth a good effort in Norman. Was that the last real push they had left in them? We’ll find out Saturday.

Cole: This has been a reaction by many K-State fans since the betting line came out. KMAN’s Tyler Dreiling had an interesting tweet earlier this week that it’s the first time in Baylor’s last 24 games that the Bears are underdogs at home.

I don’t see an issue with K-State being favored. Here’s why:

  • The Wildcats are coming off a bye week and should be fresh. Baylor is reeling, having lost three straight games and giving up an average of 47 points a game the last three weeks.
  • The Bears have less than 65 healthy scholarship players available.
  • The Bears just lost their starting quarterback in Seth Russell and have a true freshman making his first start of his career.
  • Baylor is giving up an average of 314 rushing yards a game and 6 yards per carry over the past three weeks. K-State’s offense is averaging 6.2 yards per carry and 277 rushing yards per game over the past three weeks.
  • Baylor’s strength is running the football. The Wildcats’ strength on defense is stopping the run.
    It’s an 11 a.m. kick, which helps the road team in my opinion.

It’s impossible to know what Baylor’s mindset will be going into this game. Will they be motivated for Senior Day and come out and play inspired football? If the Bears are motivated, they certainly have enough talent to win and justify being favored. But they’re reeling, and I think that’s a large part of the reason why K-State is favored.

John: You’re probably looking at the Texas Bowl depending on whether or not a Big 12 team can backdoor their way into the college football playoff. Which would bring back fantastic memories of Ron Prince getting run into the ground by Ray Rice and Rutgers!

I suppose there’s an outside chance that if Oklahoma, West Virginia or Oklahoma State made the playoff you could take basically the fourth bowl slot in the conference which would in that case be the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando.

Right now I’m seeing a lot of projections that have K-State going to the Cactus Bowl at Chase Field in Phoenix. That would seem to be a likely landing spot if K-State finishes 7-5.

Cole: If a team like Oklahoma could slide into the college football playoff, the bowl landscape would change. But that’s a longshot still. If the Wildcats win out, they’d likely finish fourth in the conference. That would likely mean they’d end up in the Texas Bowl in Houston, where they’d play an SEC team.

Stanton: If K-State wins out they will finish 4th in the Big 12. The 4th place team this year goes to the Texas Bowl. I think it’s a long shot that a Big 12 team makes the playoff, but it’s not impossible. If the Big-12 sneaks a team in, K-State would be heading to Orlando for the Russell Athletic Bowl. I would enjoy a trip to Florida.

Cole: Interesting question, and not sure my answer will make sense. But football really starts to feel like football to me when you wake up on gameday and there’s that chill in the air. I love when the colder weather starts to come and to me, there’s a certain smell about a Fall, chilly day on gameday. I don’t associate sunscreen with gameday, but the smell of the grills going during tailgating is something I certainly enjoy.

Stanton: This is a great question. I would have to go with funnel cakes being freshly fried. There was a funnel cake tent near the top of the section in Bill Snyder Family Stadium that I sat growing up. As a player, when we would run stairs at the stadium in the summer. I was one of the fastest guys on the team getting up those stairs because I had years of practice running to those funnel cakes as a kid.

John: I don’t mean to dodge the question, but I’m going to utilize a different sense here and give you a sound. Hearing the “Snyder Soundtrack” of Queen, Asia and Van Halen really gets me going and into the football mood. It brings me back to getting to games early when I was a kid and sitting in the stadium watching warm ups and hearing all of those same songs.

Stanton: I don’t think that the record of the team would be the main reason that Coach Snyder would retire or stay another year. He has always said that the reason he coaches is to develop young men into becoming their best and that is something that he was certainly still achieving when I graduated. As long as he feels he is doing that, I don’t see the record being a factor.

John: It might have some impact. I’d think the greater factor here will be how the season finishes. Snyder has always said that if he feels like he isn’t doing a good enough job anymore (I’m paraphrasing) he would step down. Maybe if the team finishes the regular season at 6-6 and loses a bowl game it would make him consider stepping away?

All of us get asked this type of question about Bill Snyder frequently, and my answer is always the same. I really do believe him when he says that he’s not thinking about it during the season. I’m not sure that there’s any kind of inside information to be had by anyone on the topic of when Snyder will retire. I’m sure he’ll take some time to evaluate things in the offseason and go from there.

Another thing to consider is that this was the youngest two-deep Bill Snyder has ever had, so there’s a lot coming back next season.

Cole: That may help persuade him to stay seeing how close they were in those games. I do think K-State could be a Big 12 contender next season with everything the Wildcats have coming back, although I’m not as confident in that as I was going into the season.

Will Snyder return and try to make another run at a Big 12 title? Or would he like to leave behind a team with some talent for the next head coach? I don’t think anyone can accurately know what he’s thinking. He may not know yet.

John: Absolutely. No offense to West Virginia, but they’re the only one loss Big 12 team left. I think both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State have a better resume/case to be included than the Mountaineers assuming any one of those teams win out.

Not only does West Virginia not have a win over a top 25 team, but they just don’t really pass the eye test to me. K-State was a Byron Pringle drop away from handling the Mountaineers in Morgantown and that’s been hard for me to get out of my mind. Lots of people had a big issue with WVU being put behind USC in the college football playoff rankings, but if you put those two teams on a neutral field right now I’d take the Trojans by at least two touchdowns.

I’m typically a Big Ten hater, but this year it’s hard to deny that the group of Ohio State, Michigan, Wisconsin and Penn State all have much better resumes than anyone from the Big 12. There would be no argument here from me with any of those teams getting in ahead of one-loss West Virginia.

Cole: West Virginia is the only option as a one-loss team, and honestly, I was looking at their resume last night, and there’s just not enough there. If the Mountaineers go 11-1, their lone win against a top-25 team will likely be Oklahoma. I don’t think one top-25 win should get you in. Although it’s not West Virginia’s fault. The Mountaineers tried to schedule well. They played Missouri and BYU in the non-con, but those teams haven’t had very good season and the Big 12 is down, which doesn’t help their cause.

Oklahoma has the best shot if it wins out because the committee values strength of schedule, and the Sooners went out and played two very challenging games in the non-conference.

I will vent here and state how it’s a joke that Michigan and Clemson both lose to average to below-average teams that are unranked, and don’t even drop out of the top four. And Colorado at No. 10 with just one win over a team with a winning record?

Stanton: The College Football Playoff Committee should pick the best 4 football teams to play in the playoff regardless of if the team has one or two losses. Since the only 1 loss Big 12 team could be West Virginia, that’s where the answer to this question needs to start. I like West Virginia, but they are not an elite team. From the Big 10 I would take a 2 loss Michigan or Ohio State team over West Virginia. In the SEC, the only potential 2 loss team (assuming Alabama doesn’t have a meltdown) is Florida. I don’t like the Gators but if they end the season with two losses they will have beaten Alabama in the SEC championship game, in which I think they would deserve to be ranked above the Mountaineers.

I think the Big 12’s best shot at the playoff is a 2 loss Oklahoma team. The Sooners would finish the year with ten straight wins, satisfying the unwritten “is the team hot?” requirement for the committee. If Oklahoma State can go unbeaten until Bedlam, the Cowboys will be a top ten victory for the Sooners in the last week of the year, satisfying the unwritten “impressive win in the last week of the season” requirement for the committee. Finally, the Sooners satisfy the unwritten “blue blood program” requirement giving them a chance to jump some schools (say, Washington) in the final rankings. Still a lot of football left to be played, but we can’t count the Sooners out.

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