WACO, Texas — It’s still uncertain whether Baylor is a legit contender for this season’s College Football Playoff.
But the 11th-ranked Bears left no doubt about their superiority over Kansas by pounding the Jayhawks, 49-7, on Saturday at McLane Stadium.
Baylor (6-0, 3-0 Big 12) enforced its will as it ran over Kansas on the Bears’ game-opening possession. Baylor quarterback Seth Russell finished the 75-yard drive with a 5-yard touchdown run.
As Kansas attempted to answer, Bears cornerback Ryan Reid stepped in front of a pass by quarterback Ryan Willis. Reid returned the interception 64 yards for a touchdown.
Reid’s pick-six gave Baylor a 14-0 lead less than seven minutes into the game and it was clear the Bears were just getting started.
Following a close call at Iowa State two weeks ago in which Baylor won on a last-second field goal, the Bears were determined to settle this one much earlier.
Reid said it was important to the Baylor players to make a statement about themselves that they are better than the team that went down to the wire with the Cyclones.
“To us, it just shows that we’re dangerous,” Reid said about the win over Kansas. “We have a bye week again, we get to rest again. So everybody else should be worried about Baylor again. We’re ready.”
By the end of the first half, the Baylor defense had sacked Willis four times, while holding the Kansas offense to 118 yards.
The Bears took the ball away from Kansas on two interceptions and a fumble recovery in the first half.
Kansas (1-5, 0-3) has lost 20 of 21 games and hasn’t defeated a Football Bowl Subdivision opponent since a 34-14 win over Iowa State on Nov. 8, 2014.
Russell was efficient enough to help the Bears stake a 42-0 halftime lead, even if he wasn’t spectacular throwing the football. He completed only 9 of 22 passes for 144 yards in the first half.
However, he threw a 59-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver KD Cannon and a 4-yarder to Ishmael Zamora, both in the second quarter.
Russell also rushed for 68 yards and two touchdowns. He broke loose for a 26-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter, flipping into the end zone after a Kansas defender hit him low on a jump over the goal line.
“I thought Seth did a nice job of managing his team today,” Kansas coach David Beaty said. “He made a couple of really nice runs to get in the end zone.”
The Baylor defense set up running back Shock Linwood for a short but historic touchdown run in the second quarter.
After a holding penalty backed up Kansas to its own 7, Willis was caught off guard by a low snap. Baylor nose tackle Ira Lewis surged through the Kansas offensive front to cover the loose ball at the Jayhawks 4.
Beaty said Kansas center Joe Gibson thought he heard Willis call for the snap, but it was actually a Baylor player mimicking the cadence.
“He heard the guy call our snap count and that’s why he snapped,” Beaty said. “Hey, you’ve got to know the inflection of the quarterback’s voice and where that sound is coming from. Nobody felt worse than Joe. But, hey, it happened and we had to move on.”
The Bears followed with a one-play scoring drive, as Linwood punched in his 36th-career touchdown. He became the Bears’ career touchdown record-holder with that 4-yard touchdown, passing running back Alfred Anderson.
Linwood finished with 46 rushing yards on 10 carries, all in the first half.
“I thought Shock had some really good runs today, some tough runs,” Baylor interim coach Jim Grobe said. “It wasn’t easy, a lot of them were uphill. But I thought today he played probably as hard as anybody. Every yard he got today was well earned.”
Baylor backup quarterback Zach Smith entered in the third quarter, giving Russell the rest of the day off. Smith led a 10-play, 71-yard scoring drive on his first series.
Bears running back Terrance Williams finished the march with a 7-yard scoring run.
Kansas avoided a shutout when backup quarterback Carter Stanley directed a 12-play, 68-yard touchdown drive late in the third quarter. Running back Khalil Herbert scored on a 2-yard run, cutting Baylor’s lead to 42 points with 1:22 left in the third quarter.