Two teams limping down the stretch will square off Saturday night as Baylor hosts Kansas State at McLane Stadium in Waco, Texas.
The Bears have lost five straight since winning their first game against Kansas. K-State hasn't won since a 55-14 defeat of Kansas helped the Wildcats reach No. 16 in the AP poll. Their third straight defeat, a 45-0 whitewashing at Iowa State, was their worst loss in five seasons.
"Hopefully they're a little ticked off," K-State coach Chris Klieman said Monday when asked about his players' attitudes. "In the same respect, our leaders are tremendous leaders. We had a good week of practice last week after a tough loss to Oklahoma State. I can promise you that we'll have a good week of practice this week after a tough loss to Iowa State.
"It's part of the learning process."
Kansas State (4-4, 4-3 Big 12) has a slim chance at a spot in the Big 12 Championship Game, but the Wildcats have to win out (they host Texas on Dec. 5) and they need some help.
The first thing they need is to get healthy. They've been battling COVID-19 absences all year, several times finding out the day before games that they'd have enough players to play. They defeated Oklahoma on the road in that situation in the conference opener, but against the Cyclones the lack of practice time was evident.
K-State's biggest problem has been finding consistency on offense. True freshmen quarterback Will Howard and running back Deuce Vaughn have showed signs of brilliance but also have been unimpressive at times.
With a thin margin for error for his team, Klieman isn't looking past Baylor.
"They have guys who are going to fight and battle," he said. "It's going to be a heck of a football game. I'm a huge (quarterback) Charlie Brewer fan. I think he's a winner and an exceptional college football player."
Baylor (1-5, 1-5 Big 12) has also dealt with a thin roster, to the point that they have only played six games so far. The Bears will make up their game against Oklahoma State on Dec. 12.
Baylor has been in every game, beginning with a double-overtime loss at West Virginia and most recently in a one-point loss at Texas Tech on Nov. 14. Four of their five losses have been on the road, so some home cooking might help.
Baylor's first-year coach Dave Aranda said his team has to be ready for a battle with K-State.
"I've got a lot of respect for Kansas State," he said. "Kansas State does a great job of attacking in the run game. They're really smart in their attack. It strikes you when you see it because they're subtle in the way they out-number you.
"I can see the struggles they're going through with the depth-chart changes. It's a fight, to a certain degree, we're all fighting. I've got a lot of respect for their staff, and I feel for them. I'm sure, come Saturday night they'll put up a big fight for us."
--Field Level Media