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Three & Out with Baylor...
• Kansas Jayhawks (1-7 overall, 0-5 Big 12) vs. Baylor Bears (3-4 overall, 0-4 Big 12) •
— 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3, Floyd Casey Stadium, Waco, Texas —
Opening Las Vegas Line: BU -17
Current Las Vegas Line: BU -17
Three and out, with Baylor...
By now, you surely have heard that Baylor quarterback Nick Florence — a 10-game starter in 2009 and back-up to Robert Griffin III in 2010 and 2011 — leads the nation in passing (378.9 yards per game), total offense (414.4 yards per game), is third in points responsible for per game (22.3) and sixth in pass efficiency with a QB rating of 166.6.
But here are a few things about Florence that you might not know, facts that are equally as impressive.
• In seven career road starts, Florence has posted five of the eight top passing yardage totals in Baylor history.
• Florence has thrown for 300 or more yards in six of seven games this season.
• This season alone, Florence has completed 16 passes of 40 yards or longer and seven passes of 50 yards or longer — 10 of those 23 bombs have gone for touchdowns.
• Florence was named a Davey O’Brien Award semifinalist and a Campbell Trophy (known as the “Academic Heisman”) finalist.
Now that you’ve seen all the gaudy statistics put up by the Bears’ offense this season, let’s look at a couple more.
Baylor has scored a whopping 14 touchdowns this season on drives that took a minute or less. The total balloons to 23 TDs when talking about drives that lasted two minutes or less. Although the Bears’ have been incredibly explosive on offense, there has been a chink in the armor and it didn’t take KU coach Charlie Weis long to discover it.
“They’re scoring 44 points a game and I don’t know how that could play to anyone’s advantage,” Weis said. “Scoring points is not the problem. The only reason they’ve lost games is turnovers. They won the first three games scoring a bunch of points, and then they lost the last four games. The two games that they only scored 21, they turned it over six times in one and four times in the other. So realistically, it wasn’t because anyone’s really shut them down, it’s because they’ve turned it over. If we’re going to have chance to win, we’re going to need turnovers.”
Baylor coach Art Briles is well aware of that make-or-break statistic and, so far, he’s been at a loss to figure it out.
“If I knew the answer, we’d certainly stop it,” Briles said. “I think it’s something our players are aware of. Sometimes you get caught in situations trying to extend the play and you get a little risky with the football. I think it’s just all situational and awareness.”
Although the Jayhawks have won just once this season and have not won a Big 12 game in their last 17 tries, Briles is not about to look at this week’s match-up as a gimme.
For starters, he remembers how this team had his Robert Griffin III-led squad on the ropes in the fourth quarter a year ago. Even more to the point, Briles has seen vast improvement in the Jayhawks this season.
“They’re a Big 12 football team, they’re a good football team,” he said. “They’ve got good people, good coaches, good schemes and they’re certainly capable of beating anybody on any day just like anybody else in this league.”
Baylor leads the all-time series between these two, 7-4, including a 5-0 mark in games played in Waco.
Baylor has won two straight games in the series, albeit in very different manners. Two years ago in Waco, the Bears rolled over the Jayhawks, 55-7, and the game was basically over by the time the second quarter ended.
A year ago, in Lawrence, Kansas led Baylor by 21 points late in the game but fell in overtime, as Baylor ripped off four straight touchdowns, including the first in overtime, and then held off KU’s attempt at a game-winning two-point conversion.
KU’s last win in the series came in 2007, when the Jayhawks drubbed the Bears, 58-10, in Lawrence.