For KU (2-7, 0-6 Big 12), this game is about pride, moving forward, and
sending its 15 seniors out in winning style.
“I think that is one big motivation for our players and I think
it will be great for our fans,” KU coach Turner Gill said about the
seniors’ swan song. “We appreciate what our support has been and I
think it will be important to see our seniors go out in a good way and
that is our players’ motivation, to send our seniors out in a good way.”
While KU’s bowl hopes ended with its 13-10 loss to Iowa State last
Saturday, Baylor (5-3, 2-3) is just one win away win from becoming bowl
eligible for the second straight season since 1991-92.
The Bears, who are coming off a 42-39 victory over Missouri after
losing two straight, feature a Heisman Trophy candidate in quarterback
Robert Griffin III and one of the most explosive offenses in the nation.
Baylor is one of two FBS schools (with Texas A&M) averaging
300-plus yards passing and 200-plus yards rushing per game. The same
teams are the only two to rank in the top 20 in both rushing offense
and passing offense. The Bears rank fifth nationally in passing
(362.50) and 20th in rushing (214.63), while leading the nation in
passing efficiency (189.57), ranking second in total offense (577.13)
and first downs (29.0), and ninth in scoring offense (41.50)
Griffin spearheads the offensive attack, completing 73.99 percent of
his passes and throwing just four interceptions in his last 334 pass
attempts. He ranks second nationally in total offense (395.88) and
points responsibility (22.75) while third in pass efficiency (188.06)
and on pace to break the NCAA single-season record (186.0) by Hawaii
quarterback Colt Brennan in 2006.
He’s also thrown for 400-plus yards in three straight games.
“He is a catalyst,” Gill said. “You can draw up a scheme and then all
of a sudden he makes somebody miss and there he goes, whether it is
throwing it or running the ball. You are just trying to mix things up
with him, trying to get him out of rhythm and we also have to make
tackles and that is a challenge.”
Gill said the keys to the game are the defense creating multiple
turnovers, winning the special teams, and “get a big play. ...
Offensively, we have to score touchdowns. You can’t kick field goals
and expect to beat Baylor.”
The Jayhawks were unable to find the end zone against Iowa State,
except for a touchdown in the first quarter. On a positive note, Kansas
forced three turnovers, held ISU scoreless in the third quarter, and
allowed just 13 points for the game, the fewest points KU’s given up in
a Big 12 contest since 2007.
KU will look to build on that performance against Baylor and finish the
last three games strong. While the Jayhawks won’t be bowling this
season, there is still much room to grow.
“I think if you are a competitor you always want to compete and play
well and coach well,” Gill said. “Our guys are really in tune with
trying to get better and that is what we talk about. What you can
control is trying to get better as a football team and as individuals.
If all of our players get better, then collectively as a team we are
going to be more productive on the football field on game day.”
The Jayhawks have history on their side heading into today's showdown.
Baylor has won just once in five trips to Lawrence with its last
victory at Memorial Stadium in 1988. The home team has also won all
seven meetings between Baylor and KU in Big 12 Conference history.
For senior tight endTim Biere, he would like nothing more than closing
his home career with a win at Memorial Stadium. He’s optimistic heading
“The team’s still pretty positive,” Biere said. “Last week, we were in
the fourth quarter for the first time in a while. We see this team
going in the right direction."