Much of the Big 12’s attention will turn toward Bedlam in Stillwater with a Top 25 matchup next weekend featuring Oklahoma State and Oklahoma.
On the other end of the conference standings, Baylor and Kansas will play Saturday in Lawrence in a game that won’t matter much to anyone except the teams involved.
Both the Bears and Jayhawks are winless in Big 12 play with 0-5 records. Baylor is still looking for its first win of the season after eight straight losses while Kansas has lost seven games since its season opening 38-16 win over Southeast Missouri State.
One team will end the day still in the conference cellar, and the other will at least have a foot out of it as the final month of the regular season begins.
The Bears are coming off their worst home loss of the season, a 38-7 drubbing by Texas on Saturday at McLane Stadium. The Jayhawks were much more competitive in their 30-20 loss to Kansas State.
“Nobody is going to feel sorry for us, so we have no time to feel sorry for ourselves,” said Baylor coach Matt Rhule. “Nobody is going to give us anything, so we have no time to ask for handouts. We’ll continue to work and we’ll get ready for Kansas and continue trying to move forward and overcome disappointment and go out there and fight next week.”
The Bears haven’t won a regular season game since a 49-7 thrashing of Kansas on Oct. 15, 2016 at McLane Stadium. Since then the Bears have lost 14 of 15 games with the only win coming against Boise State in the Cactus Bowl.
Though the Bears are frustrated that they haven’t won in 2017, they still believe it can happen as they enter the last four games of the season.
“It’s always frustrating to lose,” said Baylor freshman quarterback Charlie Brewer. “We’re doing too much of it. We’ve got to find a way to win. I feel for all the other guys in the locker room. Everyone is real disappointed. We’ve just got to find a way.”
The Bears not only dropped a 31-point decision to the Longhorns, they came out of the game banged up. Both Brewer and sophomore quarterback Zach Smith took their share of hits from a physical Texas defense. Rhule will monitor their progress throughout the week and see which quarterback is healthiest for Kansas.
Smith started against the Longhorns but struggled as he hit four of 11 passes for 37 yards, including an interception that was returned for a 43-yard touchdown by DeShon Elliott in the first minute of the game. Brewer had more success as he hit 17 of 27 for 181 yards, but still led the Bears to just one score.
“We were just kind of hitting some packages for each guy,” Rhule said. “Charlie kind of got dinged up pretty quickly, and that sort of took us out of maybe him running quite as much. After that it was who’s feeling better because they were both pretty beat up.”
Running back Trestan Ebner left the game with a thigh injury and will undergo X-rays to check the severity of the injury. Ebner had two carries for seven yards and caught two passes for 12 yards in the first half before leaving with his injury. His loss was significant after he scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter of Baylor’s 38-36 loss to West Virginia on Oct. 21.
With receivers Chris Platt and R.J. Sneed already out for the season with injuries, Tony Nicholson was banged up during the game. Pooh Stricklin also missed Saturday’s game with a sprained foot.
To add much needed depth to the receiving corps, sophomore Marques Jones switched from cornerback to receiver and made his first two catches of the season for 23 yards against the Longhorns.
“We had moved him over two weeks ago from corner,” Rhule said. “He’s a 4.0 student. He’s brilliant, and so he can pick up things quickly. I thought he did a nice job, made a couple of catches. He’s one of our faster kids on our team, and so hopefully he can continue to give us a few snaps.”
Cornerback Blake Lynch also saw some snaps at receiver, and caught a 52-yard pass from Brewer to set up Baylor’s only touchdown when John Lovett scored on a two-yard run in the second quarter.
“He was a guy we weren’t sure was going to play,” Rhule said. “He had stomach flu. It’s running rampant through the team apparently. Blake will continue to play defense and then give us some snaps here and there on offense.”
Once again, one of Baylor’s biggest issues was a lack of a running attack. With the Bears rushing for just 31 yards on 37 carries, the Texas defense was free to tee off on Baylor’s quarterbacks, which made passing the ball more difficult.
Though the Longhorns finished with 427 yards total offense, Baylor’s defense played well much of the game. But the defense was constantly pinned in bad situations because the Bears committed three turnovers and the offense had trouble putting drives together.
Baylor will work on their many issues this week and try to finally find a way to break into the win column against the Jayhawks.
“You always feel pressure to win, especially when you’re 0-8,” Lynch said. “We’re going to Lawrence, Kansas, next week. Every week we have a positive attitude and try to come out with a win. We just need to get back in the film room and focus on the details.”
BEAR FACTS — Temple High School junior defensive lineman T.J. Franklin announced Saturday night that he is verbally committing to Baylor. The 6-6, 260-pound Franklin is the second verbal commitment in Baylor’s 2019 class as he joins Round Rock Cedar Ridge receiver Jaylen Ellis.