In the early going of Saturday’s Big 12 opener for Kansas State, it looked like a blowout was imminent. The Wildcats had winless Baylor on the ropes, mostly thanks to great defense.
In the end, the win was harder to earn than expected, but it was still a win. K-State beat the Bears 33-20 to move to 3-1 on the season.
“We were inconsistent,” Bill Snyder said. “We were not a good team – a disciplined team – in the second half today. Quite obviously, we have to be a more disciplined football team than what we are, in some areas.”
The Wildcats opened the game in perfect fashion when Jesse Ertz found Isaiah Zuber for a 16-yard touchdown less than two minutes into the game. But for the offense, it was one of only a few very productive drives on the day.
K-State took a 20-3 lead at halftime and looked poised to dismantle the Bears, who entered the day 0-4 on the season.
But Matt Rhule’s team didn’t back down.
Baylor scored on plays of 74 and 70 yards in the second half, climbing within a touchdown twice. K-State’s offense continued to do just enough to maintain a lead, but not much more than that.
The biggest issue, for a second straight game, were drops by Wildcat receivers.
“I can put my finger on it, in fact I can put more than a finger on it, and I certainly will,” Snyder said. “We will continue to work on it. You get it corrected or we find somebody else (to play).”
K-State kicker Matt McCrane’s four field goals proved to be crucial, as the Bears were unable to get within a score of the Wildcats in the game’s final eight minutes. McCrane connected from 49 yards with 8:06 to go to make it 30-20.
“If you look at the entirety of his career, he’s been very good,” Snyder said. “It takes a lot of focus and he does it quite well.”
K-State quarterback Jesse Ertz rushed for 95 yards and a touchdown, but only completed 7 of 17 passes for 119 yards.
In Baylor’s effort to pull the upset, the Bears made a few critical self-inflicted errors that made a huge difference. Late in the third quarter, a bad snap over quarterback Zach Smith’s head was recovered by K-State at the BU 14 yard line.
In the fourth quarter, BU’s punter fumbled a snap and gave the Wildcats another very short field. K-State turned those opportunities into 10 important points.