Alex Barnes shines, K-State beats Baylor to become bowl eligible

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WACO, Texas (AP) — Baylor fans have grown accustomed to seeing offensive explosions in recent years, especially since moving into McLane Stadium in 2014.

If the Bears’ last two home games are any indication, they might have to get used to watching them come from opponents.

Kansas State freshman Alex Barnes rushed for 120 of his 129 yards and all four of his touchdowns in the second half to pace the Wildcats to 35 points during that span and a 42-21 win Saturday.

“I just liked that he did what he always does, and that’s run extremely hard,” Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said. “He makes a few miss on his way sometimes, not always, but he’s a gifted, powerful-type runner, which we have always known.”

It was the first win for the Wildcats (6-4, 4-3 Big 12) in Waco since 2002 and made them bowl eligible for the seventh straight season. Baylor’s 6-0 start seems a distant memory after its fourth consecutive defeat and its second in a row at home after a 62-22 drubbing from TCU two weeks ago.

Barnes had only one carry in the first half, but it was his show after that, especially in the third quarter. That’s when scored three of his four touchdowns, and Kansas State held the ball for 11:37 and outgained Baylor 186-38.

“I knew that we, as a unit would have a big day on the ground,” Barnes said. “I didn’t realize that it would be me specifically, but I knew we were going to get it done.”

Neither team got much done in the first half, but the Bears (6-4, 4-3) took a 14-7 lead into halftime thanks to cashing in a muffed punt and fumble that set them up at the Kansas State 25 and 40, respectively. But Baylor struggled to find offensive consistency all day, and Donnie Starks pulled in two of Zach Smith’s three interceptions in the second half of his first career start.

“You always have to finish,” Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said. “Sometimes we have, sometimes we haven’t. You take two ballgames that have gone down to the wire, that shouldn’t have, that go down to the last snap of the ballgame. You have a chance to win, can’t finish it off. So (it was nice) to be able to do that.”

Jesse Ertz threw for 177 yards and ran for 46 more, including a 40-yarder on a fourth-down run in the second quarter that set up Kansas State’s first score.

Smith threw for 258 yards and three touchdowns in his first career start, and Shock Linwood, Baylor’s all-time leading rusher, added 110 yards on 24 carries.

“We just didn’t go out there and execute like we had to,” Smith said. “Kansas State came out and executed, and they played great football. We, offense or defense, didn’t execute coming out for the second half. When you don’t do that, you lose.”

THE TAKEAWAY

Kansas State: The Wildcats continued their success on the ground, eclipsing the 200-yard mark for the fourth straight game with 237 on 51 attempts.

Baylor: The downward spiral continues for the Bears, who were held below 30 points for the third straight game. Baylor also failed to score a rushing touchdown for the first time in 39 games, snapping the longest active streak among Power Five conference teams.

KEY NUMBERS

Kansas State: It was an uncharacteristically undisciplined first half with 80 yards in penalties and two turnovers, both of which resulted in Baylor touchdowns. The Wildcats cleaned the up in the second half with 5 penalty yards and no turnovers.

Baylor: This was the fourth time Baylor was held scoreless in the first quarter this season. That happened to the Bears three times in the previous four seasons combined.

UP NEXT

Kansas State returns home for a rivalry game with Kansas next Saturday. A Wildcat win would give Bill Snyder 200 for his career, making him the 26th coach in FBS history to reach that plateau.

Baylor has no time to lick the wounds from its latest loss with a short week looming before a Friday tilt with Texas Tech at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

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