Baylor will begin life without Seth Russell when it visits Kansas State on Thursday. The Bears lost Russell to a season-ending neck injury in a win over Iowa State on Oct. 24 and started out a disappointing No. 6 when the first College Football Playoff rankings were revealed on Tuesday night.
Russell, who is expected to make a full recovery after undergoing surgery, was responsible for 29 passing touchdowns and six rushing scores for the nation’s highest-scoring offense and will be replaced by freshman Jarrett Stidham. “I’d be totally shocked if he’s not very composed, very competitive, very intelligent, and very on cue with everything he does Thursday for our football team,” Baylor head coach Art Briles told reporters of Stidham. The Wildcats are trying to avoid a fifth straight loss and were outscored 78-9 in the last two games against Oklahoma and Texas. “You know a lot of us, myself included, have not really been here before,” Kansas State coach Bill Snyder told reporters of the losing streak. “So, it is a matter of having the answers of how to overcome the complexity and the difficulty of what has taken place.”
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1.
LINE HISTORY: The line has held steady at its opening number of Kansas State +17. The total opened at 69, went as high as 70 and has come all the way to the current number of 67.
Baylor – DT A. Billings (probable Thursday, ankle), DT B. Bonds (questionable Thursday, hand), QB S. Russell (out for season, neck).
Kansas State – DB D. Shelley (questionable Thursday, undisclosed), LB E. Lee (questionable Thursday, undisclosed), DB N. Jackson (questionable Thursday, undisclosed), DB K. Prewett (questionable Thursday, undisclosed), QB A. Delton (questionable Thursday, knee), DB D. McDaniel (out for season, undisclosed).
WEATHER REPORT: It should be partly cloudy at kickoff with a slight 10 percent chance of rain. Temperatures will be in the mid 50’s to go along with a 10 mile per hour wind blowing across the field from west to east.
ABOUT BAYLOR (7-0, 4-2 ATS, 5-2 O/U): Stidham has been strong in limited duty, completing 24-of-28 passes for 331 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions. His lone pass attempt in relief of Russell against Iowa State went for a 12-yard TD in a 45-27 triumph. “You go by what you’ve seen and what you feel, and what you’ve been subjected to,” Briles told reporters. “That’s what we’ve noticed since being around him. He’s got an old soul, don’t look at him as that ‘F’ word (freshman), because he’s not. He’s a ready quarterback, and that’s the way we look at it.”
ABOUT KANSAS STATE (3-4, 3-4 ATS, 4-3 O/U): The Wildcats made a switch at quarterback in the first game of the season and are still trying to figure out a way to coax some more points out of the offense with Joe Hubener leading the way. The junior is just 30-of-78 passing for a total of 378 yards, one touchdown and five interceptions in the last four games. “I think we are making positive steps, and I think we just need to put it together,” Hubener told reporters. “We have shown success in the passing game in some of the early games, and we just have to get that back.”
* Home team is 4-0 ATS in the last four meetings.
* Baylor is 1-4 ATS in its last five meetings at Kansas State.
* Over is 5-1 in Kansas State’s last six home games.
* Over is 12-3-1 in Baylor’s last 16 games following a bye week.
COVERS CONSENSUS: The public is backing Baylor in this Big 12 matchup, with 61.77 percent of wagers backing the Bears.