October 26, 2007

KSU defense seeking redemption

While Kansas State is scoring at a rapid rate in averaging its most points in five years, its defense hopes to make a point of its own when the Wildcats host pass-happy Baylor for Homecoming at 2:35 p.m. Saturday at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. The last three contests haven't been kind to a defensive unit that takes pride in keeping opponents in check on the field and on the scoreboard.

Given the fact K-State has allowed 452.6 total yards, including an astounding 229.0 on the ground in its last three games, defensive end Ian Campbell believes the Bears and their lethargic rushing attack that averages just 72.1 yards might take a second look at their strategy as they seek their first win in the Big 12 season.

"After watching the tapes of the last few weeks," Campbell said, "I'm sure they'll run it some."

The Wildcats are averaging 37.0 points and with 30 points will boast their highest-scoring four-game stretch in two seasons under Coach Ron Prince, whose team comes off a tough 41-39 loss at Oklahoma State last weekend. Five lead changes and more than 1,000 combined yards in total offense and a last-minute two-point conversion -- the heart-wrenching shootout had everything except for a final stand by a defense that couldn't keep the Cowboys from a game-winning field goal on their final drive.

"We want to have a really good defense," said Prince, who is 0-3 in games decided by 10 or fewer points this season. "Until you can make some of those fourth-quarter stops, we have to be able to make some improvement there."

Baylor has dropped its last five Big 12 road games since a three-point overtime win at Colorado on Oct. 7, 2006 and has incurred its struggles on both offense and defense in being outscored 166-53 in four league losses this season. But the Bears saw signs of life despite a 31-10 loss at home to then-No. 19 Texas last weekend. They held the Longhorns to their fewest points in the series since 1998 and it took Texas two late touchdowns to make the outcome appear more lopsided. Baylor trailed 17-10 heading into the final eight minutes.

"You could tell they were getting a little nervous when we were still in the game," said strong safety Brandon Stiggers, who forced a fumble and returned the ball 60 yards. "They probably were assuming they were going to come out and just blow us out of the water."

K-State hasn't suffered back-to-back losses this season, blowing out opponents by 20 and 27 points immediately following defeat. But the Wildcats remained humble earlier in the week as a 17-3 loss at Baylor last season, regarded as the worst loss under Prince, continued to gnaw at them.

The Wildcats will try to win their second straight homecoming game after dropping two straight before Prince's arrival in 2006.

"It'll be fun to go out there and play and show everyone we still do have it and let them know we are fighting hard and aren't trying to let them and the Wildcat Nation down," Campbell said.

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