WACO, Texas — An 80-yard touchdown run by Baylor’s Lache Seastrunk with 58 seconds to play in the third quarter seemed to say it all Saturday night.
Kansas State players gave chase as the sophomore running back raced down the middle of the field untouched, racking up 185 yards in all, but never caught him.
The Wildcats had to play catch-up all night against the Bears, who wrecked K-State’s perfect season and national title hopes with a runaway 52-24 victory at Floyd Casey Stadium.
K-State (10-1, 7-1) entered the game perfect, ranked No. 1 and with quarterback Collin Klein on the cover of Sports Illustrated. All was right in the Wildcats’ world. But from the opening snap Saturday, everything was wrong.
The Wildcats turned the ball over three times, committed seven penalties for 60 yards, dropped numerous open passes and couldn’t stop Baylor’s revved-up offense.
It was everything the Wildcats hadn’t been this season — bad.
“They took the fight to us and I thought we weren’t well enough prepared for it,” K-State coach Bill Snyder said. “We struggled on both sides of the ball and I think we were just not prepared, and I take full responsibility for that.”
Baylor (5-5, 2-5) scored first — a 38-yard touchdown pass from Nick Florence to Tevin Reese just two minutes into the game. The Baylor quarterback finished 20 of 32 for 238 yards and two scores and two interceptions.
K-State answered with an 8-yard touchdown pass from Klein to Torell Miller four minutes later.
Then Baylor took over. Actually, the Bears just kept scoring and the Wildcats didn’t. Baylor, with 580 yards of total offense, scored three unanswered touchdowns to take a commanding 28-7 lead on the Wildcats with 2:54 to play in the second quarter.
The Wildcats, who totaled just 362 yards, went flat on four straight offensive possessions during the Bears’ breakout, punting three times and having one drive end with an interception thrown by Klein.
It was a unique situation for the Wildcats, who hadn’t really had to play from behind all season.
“It’s a position that we haven’t been in,” Klein said. “Bit it’s partly our fault on the offensive side for not putting points on the board. Hats off to (Baylor) — we knew that they were a better football team than what people think.”
It was a rough day for Klein, who finished 27 of 50 for 286 yards. He did throw a pair of touchdown passes, but he also tossed career-high three interceptions as well.
“It’s why you play the games,” Klein said, when asked about possibly overlooking Baylor. “We knew they were a better ball club than what showed on paper. We just didn’t get it done.”
K-State didn’t start to show a little life until the final three minutes of the first half when the Wildcats’ Heisman hopeful found Chris Harper twice on a four-play scoring drive — capped by a 7-yard pass to Harper with 1:47 before halftime.
Just a two-touchdown lead, the Wildcats put together its best defensive effort in the first half to force Baylor into a three-and-out, a possession that used up just 43 seconds of clock.
That left the Wildcats 51 seconds to get another score before the break. Klein was 5 for 6 passing on the ensuing possession for 55 yards and ran twice for another 11 yards, but K-State had to settle for a 23-yard field goal from Anthony Cantele with just 3 seconds left on the clock.
Either way, K-State looked to be in better shape because the Wildcats were set to get the ball first in the third quarter, trailing just 28-17.
The hope was short-lived, as Klein opened the third quarter with a 13-yard rush on first down and then threw back-to-back incomplete passes before getting picked off for the second time. The K-State quarterback had never been picked off twice in a game before.
It only got worse. Baylor started piling on, using four plays to cover 38 yards and score a 4-yard touchdown from Martin Glasco less than two minutes into the second half to make it 35-17.
K-State answered with another stinker of a drive when Klein tossed three straight incomplete passes and had to punt. It was one of those nights when a punt by Ryan Doerr was a highlight for the offensive team, though, as he buried Baylor deep at the 1-yard line.
Florence came out passing from his own goal line, the first pass bouncing off the turf and his second throw into the arms of K-State corner Randall Evans at the 1-yard line near the pylon. Evans was ruled down at the half-yard line, setting the Cats up for a QB sneak from Klein to cut the Baylor lead to 35-24 with 12:25 to go in the third.
Unfortunately for K-State, that would be the last score for the Wildcats.
They continued to make mistakes that cost them, while the Bears proved too potent and difficult for the beat up K-State defense to stop.
Baylor ended the game with three straight scores — a 50-yard field goal, a 15-yard touchdown run by Glasco and the for-good-measure 80-yard burst up the middle by Seastrunk in the closing seconds of the third quarter after Klein’s third interception. Glasco finished with 113 yards and three TDs on the night.
“I thought we prepared well, but it turns out we didn’t,” Snyder said. “I don’t think we handled the situation as well as well as should have been able to. It had nothing to do with the guys not wanting to be successful. They wanted to play well, they wanted to play hard and we just didn’t handle the environment well.
“We had six penalties in the first half, all on defense — four offsides penalties. That’s disappointing. Without discipline, you can play hard, and want to, but you can’t make those kinds of mistakes.”
Not all is lost for the Wildcats. Sure, they’re going to take a hit in the polls today, but they’re still in the driver’s seat in the Big 12. A win in two weeks at home against Texas guarantees K-State no less than the Fiesta Bowl this season as league champs.
“We are going to be tremendously disappointed, and the sooner the better that will turn into anger and then it will be time to put this behind us,” Snyder said. “We still have some opportunities to do some special things.”