With its emotional performance in the Big 12 opener against Oklahoma, Baylor served notice to the rest of the league that it won’t be trampled over.
The Bears battled the No. 3 Sooners to the finish at McLane Stadium as quarterback Zach Smith delivered a career-high 463 yards passing and four touchdowns and senior linebacker Taylor Young led the defense with some big hits.
The Bears could have used a second straight home game to build off that performance, but now they must hit the road to face Kansas State at Bill Snyder Family Stadium, a tough place to play for any visiting team.
Baylor (+17) at Kansas State
Kansas State loses few home games, but Baylor managed to pull off wins in its last two trips to Manhattan in 2013 and 2015.
But those were veteran teams loaded with talent, especially the Bears’ 2013 Big 12 championship team. In sharp contrast, Matt Rhule’s squad has relied heavily on freshmen and inexperienced sophomores in the Bears’ 0-4 start.
Kansas State relies on a ball control offense led by dual-threat quarterback Jesse Ertz and a defense that leads the Big 12 by allowing just 13.3 points per game. The Bears will have to play error-free football to even have a shot, and that seems almost impossible with a young team.
Kansas State 31, Baylor 21
Texas (-6) at Iowa State
In this special Thursday night game, the Longhorns will try to knock off an Iowa State team that should be 3-0.
The Cyclones have beaten Northern Iowa and Akron, and let a chance to beat rival Iowa get away in a 44-41 overtime loss.
The Longhorns are just 1-2 but they gave USC a major scare two weeks ago in Los Angeles before losing in overtime. Freshman quarterback Sam Ehlinger had some impressive moments against the Trojans, but Shane Buechele will be back in the lineup after missing that game with an injury. His experience should be enough to beat the Cyclones in Ames.
Texas 27, Iowa State 17
No. 15 Oklahoma State (-9.5) at Texas Tech
After putting one of the worst defenses in the country on the field for several years, Texas Tech has finally shown the ability to stop people.
The Red Raiders’ defense played a major role in a 27-24 road win over Houston last week to break the Cougars’ 16-game home winning streak.
Quarterback Nic Shimonek has been impressive in the Red Raiders’ 3-0 start, but Mason Rudolph will lead the Cowboys to a road win following last week’s home loss to TCU.
Oklahoma State 45, Texas Tech 38
No. 5 USC (-3.5) at No. 16 Washington State
The Trojans felt fortunate to hold off Texas in overtime two weeks ago and they remained unbeaten at 4-0 with a 30-20 win over California.
Unbeaten Washington State should provide a much tougher challenge in Pullman on Friday night. Luke Falk has enjoyed a spectacular season, completing 76.9 percent of his passes for 1,378 yards and 14 touchdowns with just one interception for the Cougars.
USC quarterback Sam Darnold has been in the Heisman discussion all year, but Falk could make his bid after upsetting the Trojans.
Washington State 35, USC 34
No. 2 Clemson (-7.5) at No. 12 Virginia Tech
In an era when high powered offenses are all the rage, there isn’t a better defense in the country than Clemson’s.
The Tigers simply made life miserable for former Baylor quarterback Jarrett Stidham in their win over Auburn and then made things hard for Louisville Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Lamar Jackson two weeks ago.
The Tigers have allowed just 223 yards and 10 points per game in their 4-0 start, and they’ll continue to dominate against Virginia Tech.
Clemson 27, Virginia Tech 17
Last week: 4-1 overall, 2-3 against the line
Season: 12-8 overall, 8-11-1 against the line