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Bears have slim chance; enjoy the game, anyway

Nov. 6, 1998

Homecoming is here again. It's time for the parade, Pigskin, the bonfire, and, most importantly, a cupcake football opponent to beat up on in front of all the parents and alumni. Teams like Iowa State University, University of Texas, and Texas Christian University. Not this year. Someone must have forgotten homecoming is this week against Kansas State University, not next week against University of Oklahoma.

The Kansas State Wildcats invade Waco this Saturday ranked second in the nation and riding a 16-game winning streak. Baylor enters the contest ranked 43rd in the Sagarin ratings and holding a 3-game losing streak. The Wildcats are first in the nation in scoring defense, total defense, and rushing defense. Baylor's stellar defense is a dominating 105th in the nation and 75th and 100th in scoring defense and rushing defense, respectively. I could sit here and quote statistics all day, but it won't make any difference. Any way you look at it, the game is not going to be pretty.

Kansas State has been dominating in every way so far in the season, and their numbers are positively mind-boggling. They have outscored their opponents 369-57 and have allowed only eight touchdowns in their eight games. Furthermore, they have scored less than 48 points only once (16 against Colorado) and have allowed more then nine only once (20 against Oklahoma State).

Baylor, on the other hand, has not scored more than 48 points since 1996 (a 49-21 homecoming victory) and has not held an opponent under nine points since a Daryl Gardener-led defense held Rice to six points in 1995. To make things worse, the Bears have only allowed less than 20 points once in the Dave Roberts era.

Individual player statistics back up K-State's dominance as well. Senior quarterback and former Baylor recruit Michael Bishop comes into the game having lost only one game as a collegiate starter (19-1 at KSU, 24-0 at Blinn JC) and ranked fifth in the nation in passing efficiency. He has piled up 2181 yards of total offense himself this season, only 85 yards less than the entire Bear offense. Running back Eric Hickson, the school's all-time leading rusher, has run for 683 yards and eight touchdowns behind the blocking of 250-pound fullback Brian Goolsby.

The favorite targets for Bishop this season have been senior Darnell McDonald (633 yards, five touchdowns) and freshman Aaron Lockett (571 yards, five touchdowns). On special teams, K-State's Martin Gramatica, who earlier in the season kicked a 65-yard field goal against Northern Illinois, is third in the nation in scoring at 12 points a game.

Some of the most amazing (and frightening) stats are those of sophomore punt returner David Allen. Allen is second in the nation with over 21 yards per punt return and has scored three touchdowns. His 467 punt return yards are more than both Baylor's leading rusher (Darrell Bush, 356 yards) and leading receiver (Morris Anderson, 433 yards) have totaled this season.

Looking at some of the worst defeats in Baylor history, this game has a chance to beat them all. The records for most points scored and the largest margin of defeat by a Baylor opponent in the post-World War II era were set by the University of Houston in 1989. In that game, soon-to-be-Heisman Trophy winner Andre Ware passed for 514 yards and six touchdowns and Cougar wide receiver Manny Hazard caught 13 passes for 218 yards and five touchdowns.

Houston won the game 66-10. It has been declared by our esteemed Lariat sports editor that, should K-State defeat us by more than 50 points in our homecoming game, he will officially end his personal coverage of Baylor football for the season.

The only thing green-and-gold-flinging Baylor fanatics can take solace in is that the Bears tend to play up for their homecoming games. They have won four in a row and eight of their last nine. Don't get too excited, though. I'm not for a minute saying Baylor even has a remote shot at winning this game. I think that it is pretty much common knowledge that Baylor will lose -- big. But by all means, please go to the game. We need to heckle and hassle the K-State players and thoroughly enjoy ourselves.

PREDICTION: It will be ugly. I again advocate extensive use of fullback Derek 'The Brazos Trolley' Lagway up the middle. Baylor needs to keep the ball out of Michael Bishop's hands by getting at least a few sustained drives and some first downs. In the end, however, there is no avoiding fate and Baylor will fall by a score of 56-3. Pray for the Bears.

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