Jayhawks face uphill climb in Big 12 clash with Bears

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Updated: 10/23/2013 10:15 am

Lawrence, KS (SportsNetwork.com) - The nation's top scoring team will be on display once again, as the sixth-ranked Baylor Bears hit the road to challenge the Kansas Jayhawks in Big 12 Conference action.

Baylor dominated Iowa State last weekend, 71-7, marking the fourth time this season the team has scored 70 or more points. To put that in perspective, the Bears had only three such outings in the 111 years of gridiron competition prior. As a result, BU is 6-0 for the first time since 1980, and it is 3-0 in the Big 12 for the first time ever. In all, Baylor has won 10 straight games dating back to last season, which matches the longest winning streak in program history (1936-37). The Bears are 17-1 in their its last 18 home games, and are 31-5 when leading at the halftime under current head coach Art Briles.

As for Kansas, it is at the other end of the spectrum with regard to sustained success, the team only winning twice in six opportunities this season. The Jayhawks are coming off a 34-19 home loss to another ranked foe in Oklahoma, dropping them to 0-3 in conference while evening their record in Lawrence at 2-2. Baylor is the second of four ranked foes the team will have faced over a six-game span running from Oct. 5 (Texas Tech) to Nov. 9 (Oklahoma State).

Baylor leads the all-time series with Kansas, 8-4. but the Jayhawks own a 4-2 advantage in games played in Lawrence. The Bears won last year's meeting rather easily, taking a 41-14 decision at home.

Baylor outgained Iowa State by an eye-popping 714-174 margin last week, averaging 7.8 yards per offensive play compared to only 2.9 for the Cyclones. Bryce Petty continued his assault on opposing defenses, throwing for 343 yards and two TDs, with Antwan Goodley having a career game with 11 catches for 182 yards and two scores. Tevin Reese also went over 100 receiving yards (105), while the rushing attack saw Lache Seastrunk churn out 112 yards and score a pair of TDs, the team as a whole amassing 291 yards and a total of five TDs on the ground.

Petty has thrown for more than 300 yards and at least two TDs in each of his six career starts, and he is completing 70.8 percent of his passes for 2,023 yards, 15 TDs and only one interception -- all of which being tops in the Big 12. Goodley and Reese are as good as it gets, the duo combining for 65 catches for 1,565 yards and 14 TDs. Seastrunk has gained at least 100 yards in 10 of his last 11 games, and has rushed for a league-leading 760 yards and 10 TDs.

Not content to let the offense have all the fun, the Baylor defense has performed exceptionally well this season too, limiting the opposition to 16.2 points and 317.3 yards per game -- the former ranking first in the conference and the latter second. The Bears have been especially tough against the pass (181.2 ypg, six TDs), and they rank second in both turnover margin (tied at +6) and sacks (21).

In the rout of Iowa State, Eddie Lackey was high man for Baylor with eight tackles, and he registered a sack while also pouncing on a fumble. For the season, Bryce Hager paces the unit with 52 tackles, while Shawn Oakman has 11 TFL, Chris McAllister has 4.5 sacks, and Joe Williams has two interceptions.

Despite the unprecedented success his team has achieved already, Petty spoke after the Iowa State game about staying focused on the task at hand.

"I think it all goes back to being about Baylor. It's not worrying about everyone else. We know where we've been we know where we're going. We're going to come out hungry every week."

James Sims (game-high 129 rushing yards, two TDs) put forth a solid effort, but the Kansas offense generated just 201 total yards in the loss to Oklahoma last weekend. Jake Heaps had one of the worst games a signal caller could have as he completed just 5-of-13 passes for a mere 16 yards. He did thrown a TD pass to Jimmay Mundine (one yard), but was sacked three times. The only saving grace, besides Sims, was the fact that the Jayhawks did not turn the ball over. They were however, just 2-of-11 on third-down conversion attempts.

The KU defense performed admirably against the Oklahoma passing attack, permitting only 180 yards, although the Sooners scored three times through the air. OU ran the ball 45 times for 235 yards with a TD, averaging 5.2 ypc, and it was Dexter Linton who paced the Jayhawks with nine tackles, while Victor Simmons, Isaiah Johnson and Jake Love logged eight stops apiece. Kansas was credited with nine TFL, but only one sack, and the defense came up with a pair of turnovers.

Not surprisingly, Kansas is the lowest scoring team in the Big 12, putting up just 18.3 ppg in averaging 129.8 ypg on the ground and 157.8 ypg through the air, both of which also rank the team last in the league. Sims has gained 519 yards and scored four of the club's six rushing TDs, while Heaps is just a 51.5 percent passer who has thrown for just over 900 yards with six TDs and the same number of picks. Tony Pierson heads the receiving corps with 21 catches for 327 yards and a TD, while Mundine leads the way with four scoring grabs.

Kansas isn't the worst defensive team in the league, but the Jayhawks are still a ways from being considered a top-tier unit. Foes are scoring 27 ppg against them, with their effort against the pass (215.2 ypg, fourth in the Big 12) being better than their showing versus the run (186.8 ypg, seventh). They also rank in the middle of the pack in red zone defense (.821). Johnson spearheads the effort with 48 tackles, and he and Ben Heeney (43 tackles) have two interceptions each.

Kansas head coach Charlie Weis has taken over play-calling duties and while it wasn't perfect, he liked some of things that happened in the loss to Oklahoma.

"It went pretty smoothly for a half. I think that in the second half, once again, when you keep a fairly conservative list, you're dialed up, you got to produce on those same plays."

He was really pleased with the effort of his running backs, "It's [rushing attack] the best we've had in a while and running against a good defense too. Going in we had to try to control the ball, I thought James (Sims) and Darrian (Miller) both ran the ball very well."

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