The recurring storylines are impossible to ignore.
It was just a year ago in Waco that Baylor won its first Big 12 championship in its regular-season finale against Texas.
And it was just two years ago in Waco that the Bears’ two-year run as a national championship contender began in earnest with a 52-24 upset against then-No. 2 Kansas State.
Tonight the Bears (10-1, 7-1, No. 6 CFP) take on Kansas State (9-2, 7-1, No. 9 CFP) with a chance to win a Big 12 title, and perhaps more, in the teams’ regular-season finale.
The game, however, is bigger than a conference title, with Baylor aiming to jump two spots into the top four of the final College Football Playoff rankings to qualify for a spot in the inaugural playoff.
The fact that rival TCU, which the Bears
beat 61-58 this season, sits comfortably at No. 3 in the Playoff rankings has been the cause of great debate in the college football world.
And yet, there is still a game to be played at McLane Stadium today — one that features the top scoring offense in the Big 12 (Baylor) against its top scoring defense (Kansas State).
Kansas State gave Baylor quite the test last year as the Bears were typically unable to sustain drives — only one of its scoring drives was longer than five plays — and were unable to stop the run, giving up 327 yards on the ground.
But Kansas State is a fairly different team in terms of personnel, and the formula to defeat the Bears may be different as well.
The Wildcats’ defense will certainly be the stiffest the Bears have faced this season — and yet Baylor hung 61 points on TCU, the second-best scoring defense in the Big 12, earlier this season.
Kansas State will have to score points if it hopes to leave Waco with a share of the Big 12 title, and the weakness of the Bear defense has been the secondary.
Part of that is because the Bears boast the No. 1 rush defense in the Big 12, but TCU and Texas Tech passed for 346 and 609 yards, respectively, in near upsets of Baylor while West Virginia quarterback Clint Trickett completed 66 percent of his passes for 322 yards in the Bears’ lone loss.
Jake Waters has been solid, and at times impressive, at quarterback for the Wildcats and may need to be the latter for Kansas State to pull the upset.
And while a Bill Snyder-coached team ought to never be taken for granted — especially when the parallels between the upset Baylor handed his team in 2012 and the one he hopes to hand the Bears today are downright eerie — look for Baylor to win and put the onus on the College Football Playoff committee to leave out a team in favor of one it beat earlier in the season.