Matt Rhule has a vision for Baylor football, and it looks a lot like what the Bears will see up close Saturday when they take on Kansas State at Snyder Family Stadium.
“My kind of football team,” Rhule said of the Wildcats on Monday during the Big 12 teleconference. “If I could think of exactly what I would want a football team to look like, it would be them.”
The transformation process has begun at Baylor, but it is in its early stages. This is Rhule’s first season with the Bears, and he remains winless on the job. Baylor has opened the year with losses to Liberty, Texas-San Antonio, Duke and Oklahoma.
Things only get tougher from here. Few expect the Bears to challenge K-State, as they enter the game as 14-point underdogs.
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Rhule, who left Temple after four successful seasons to take over in Waco, Texas, understands the challenges that come with playing K-State.
“Tough, hard-nosed, physical, disciplined,” Rhule said. “They present tremendous challenges for you schematically on offense with a quarterback who can run and throw. They are well put together. Every side of the ball complements each other.”
The Baylor team Rhule will bring to Manhattan on Saturday will resemble the Baylor teams fans have grown accustomed to seeing over the years, more so than the K-State team he respects. Though Rhule has worked to move the Bears away from the scandalous Art Briles era off the field, they are still known for offense on it.
Since Zach Smith took over at quarterback, they have put up impressive numbers. By throwing for 463 yards and four touchdowns, Smith helped Baylor push No. 3 Oklahoma before ultimately losing 49-41 over the weekend.
“They are an improved football team,” K-State coach Bill Snyder said. “I appreciate the fact that has been a continual thing for them game in and game out. They’re better in their second game than they were in the first, they’re better in their third game than they were in their second, and so on down the road, and it came to fruition for them Saturday with Oklahoma.”
Coaching against Snyder will be a thrill for Rhule.
He said he is “absolutely looking forward” to standing on the same field as Snyder, before referring to the longtime K-State coach as “a legend.”
“I have such respect and reverence for coaches that have done what he has done,” Rhule said. “He is just a tremendous coach. His football team is exactly what I want my football team to look like.”
Bye Week Blues
K-State is coming off its lone bye week of the season, which should give the rested Wildcats an extra advantage against the Bears.
But it will be a while before Snyder knows whether the week off came at a good time. The thought of playing nine Big 12 games in nine weeks, as the Wildcats are about to do, sounds tiring.
“That’s a pretty diligent schedule, quite obviously, but it is what it is,” Snyder said. “The preference would always be to have a second open date during the course of the season, or if not a second open date, one that takes you about halfway through the season.”
With that in mind, Snyder said K-State took things “a little lighter” than usual last week.
The next nine games won’t be easy.
“Anybody can get anybody, and it kind of depends upon how well you prepare, how well you coach, and how well you play,” Snyder said. “But everybody is capable, and so consequently, every week is going to be a challenge.”
Kickoff set for K-State/Texas game
Kansas State will play Texas at 6 p.m. on Oct. 7 in Austin. The game will be televised nationally on Fox Sports 1.
ESPN2 will broadcast the Wildcats’ upcoming game against Baylor at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday. Play-by-play announcer Beth Mowins will call the game alongside analyst Anthony Becht and sideline reporter Rocky Boiman.
Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett