Kansas St.-Baylor Preview
By NICOLINO DIBENEDETTO
(AP) -- Just two victories are between Kansas State and a potential spot in its first BCS championship game.
The first, however, must come at Baylor - where the No. 2 Wildcats have lost their last two visits.
Kansas State can clinch at least a share of the Big 12 title Saturday night while moving closer to a trip to Miami by sending the Bears to their sixth loss in seven games.
The Wildcats (10-0, 7-0) are atop the BCS rankings, slightly ahead of second-place Oregon - No. 1 in the AP poll - while unbeaten Notre Dame lurks third.
If the three teams complete their respective schedules unbeaten, it appears Kansas State and the Ducks will play for the national title in Miami on Jan. 7.
The Wildcats conclude the season against 18th-ranked Texas at home Dec. 1.
"We're just honored to be there," Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said. "I'm just going to encourage our guys to not change the way we approach things and try to stay grounded."
Perhaps that strategy can help the Wildcats win at Waco for the first time since Oct. 26, 2002. They've dropped two meetings there, the most recent on Oct. 23, 2010.
Collin Klein engineered a fourth-quarter rally as Kansas State beat the Bears 36-35 at home Oct. 1, 2011. The quarterback erased a nine-point deficit by scoring a one-yard touchdown run before setting up the winning field goal.
Klein will likely be a factor again as he attempts to help the Wildcats claim at least a share of their first conference title since 2003. He's also trying to build his resume to become the first Kansas State player to win the Heisman Trophy.
The senior earned another honor this week, gracing the cover of Sports Illustrated.
"It is pretty cool," Klein said. "You always see that kind of stuff growing up. At the same time, I am just trying to take care of mine and our business here. Just trying to take one more step."
He did that last week, running for two scores in a 23-10 win at TCU after an apparent concussion forced him to exit a win over Oklahoma State on Nov. 3.
Klein leads all quarterbacks with 19 rushing touchdowns, seven more than he's managed through the air. He's a big reason the Wildcats lead the Big 12 with 2,136 yards on the ground and 35 TDs.
"He brings maturity and production as well as being a good teammate," Baylor coach Art Briles said. "He sacrifices when he needs to and sacrifices when he has to. He's as good a dual-threat QB as there is in America."
Running back John Hubert has 783 rushing yards - averaging 5.3 per carry - and 12 touchdowns, but he hasn't been very effective over the past five games. The junior has been held to 256 yards and four scores on 72 carries during that stretch and failed to score in the last three games.
Hubert caught a 15-yard TD pass from Klein against Baylor (4-5, 1-5) last year.
The Bears need two wins in their last three games to have the chance of going to an unprecedented third straight bowl.
They dropped to 0-2 against ranked opponents last weekend, falling 42-34 at then-No. 14 Oklahoma.
"I think we've been due for a while, but the other team feels like they're due also and that's what makes it so great," Briles said of Baylor's 1-5 stretch. "We have to perform at a high level every snap. That's the difference between winning and losing. We have to play the whole game and then we'll have a good result."
The Bears have the second-best offense in the country to lean on, averaging 564.0 yards They've piled up 551 rushing yards and six touchdowns over the last two games, but will be facing the second-best run defense in the Big 12 as Kansas State yields an average of 99.4 yards and six TDs.
"I do not know of a team that has struggled in the win-loss standpoint that has been as effective and dynamic on offense as this football team," Snyder said.
One reason for that dynamism is quarterback Nick Florence, who had season highs of 83 yards and 15 carries while scoring on a five-yard run.
The senior wasn't nearly as effective passing, completing 12 of 33 attempts for 172 yards.
Updated November 13, 2012