HOW THEY MATCH UP
Baylor offense vs. Kansas defense
Baylor’s offense has had its issues in recent games, failing to score in the second half in a 34-31 loss to Oklahoma and missing several scoring opportunities in a 24-10 win over Texas. But playing against a Kansas defense that ranks last in the Big 12 by allowing 475.4 yards and 33.8 points per game can cure a lot of offensive problems. The good thing for the Bears is that quarterback Charlie Brewer has been cleared to play after going down with 11:33 remaining against Texas after taking a shot to the head.
Baylor defense vs. Kansas offense
Baylor clearly has the best defense in the Big 12 as it has allowed just 19.5 points per game while amassing 38 sacks and forcing 22 turnovers. That’s a recipe for a championship caliber team. The Jayhawks have some explosiveness on offense with Pooka Williams ranking among the Big 12 leaders with 945 yards rushing and three touchdowns and Carter Stanley passing for 2,569 yards and 24 touchdowns. But Baylor’s defense will be able to handle them.
Key matchup: Baylor defensive line vs. Kansas offensive line
There isn’t a more effective three-man defensive line in the country than Baylor ends James Lynch and James Lockhart and nosetackle Bravvion Roy taking on blockers up the middle. Lynch has collected 10½ sacks this season and holds the Baylor career record with 19. Their ability to get to the quarterback has helped Baylor’s entire defense become a force. Kansas’ offensive line has been a strong point, but is no match up front for the Bears.
Baylor kicker John Mayers has enjoyed an outstanding year by hitting 11 of 14 field goals, while Issac Power is coming off his best game of the season as he averaged 45.6 yards on five punts and pinned Texas inside the 10 three times. Kansas punter Kyle Thompson has been superb all season as he’s averaged 44.1 yards on 51 punts, but kicker Liam Jones has hit just 11 of 18 field goals. Baylor’s kick blocking unit is always a game changing threat.
Baylor quarterback Charlie Brewer will bring some good memories to Lawrence since he led the Bears there to their only win, a 38-9 decision over the Jayhawks, in Matt Rhule’s 1-11 debut season in 2017. Now the Bears are in a completely different situation as they can improve to 11-1 with a win over the Jayhawks. Since the Bears have clinched a spot against Oklahoma in the Dec. 7 Big 12 championship game, they might be tempted to overlook the Jayhawks. But Rhule expects the Bears to have the same focus they’ve had in every game this season.
— John Werner