WACO, Texas - It started with a coin flip. Yes, it was that simple and that fateful.
Baylor won the toss and elected to receive. The Bears, needing two more victories to become bowl eligible and facing the No. 1 team in the BCS standings, chose to receive. It took Baylor's high-powered offense less than two minutes to drive for a 7-0 lead.
"We wanted to come out and set a tone early and we were able to do that on that opening drive," said Baylor right tackle Troy Baker.
Tone, meet set. Upsets require emotion and Baylor was stoked by a noisy crowd of 38,029 at Floyd Casey Stadium. Upsets require the underdog playing above its head and performing with verve and nerve. Upsets require the favorite to under-perform, to make uncharacteristic mistakes and allow game pressure to control play calling and execution.
Kansas State, which ascended to No. 1 in the BCS Standings this week, fell into a Bear trap and lost to Baylor, 52-24, Saturday night. It was an outcome of historic proportions - Baylor had never beaten a team ranked No. 1 - that was both unexpected and not surprising.
The last time the No. 1 BCS team lost in consecutive weeks was 2007. The last time the top two teams lost on the same day was Dec. 1, 2007 (the victims were Missouri and West Virginia). Since 2003, Big 12 teams that reached No. 1 during the season are 2-6 in their next game after reaching the top.
"I don't think we handled the situation as well as we should have been able to," Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said, his back against a wall outside the locker room. "We just didn't handle the environment well."
The loss, in all likelihood, knocks Kansas State (10-1, 7-1) out of the national championship chase. Coupled with Oklahoma's wild 50-49 victory at West Virginia, the Big 12 Conference championship race is now a chase. The Sooners (8-2, 6-1) play Oklahoma State Saturday and at TCU on Dec. 1 while the Wildcats are home against Texas Dec. 1. Two OU victories and a K-State loss would give the Sooners the outright title.
Kansas State had company in its Saturday misery. Oregon, No. 1 in the polls and No. 2 in the BCS, lost in overtime to Stanford. Expect Notre Dame to ascend to No. 1 and the BCS title game could pit the Fighting Irish against, maybe, Alabama.
"Wow ... wow ... WOW."
News of Oregon's upset earned a triple wow from Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk. He's from Temple, Texas, just over 30 minutes down I-35 from Waco. He started his career at Oregon, never played, transferred to Baylor and has slowly been asserting his game-breaking skills for the Bears. Seastrunk gained a career-high 185 yards on 19 carries and his 80-yard sprint near the end of the third quarter provided an exclamation point and the final score.
"Upset Saturday night in college football," said Seastrunk, who started crying as the clock ticked to 0:00 and the Baylor fans prepared to storm the field. "This was my first game where I felt like I did well and played to my abilities. To see your dream happen ... I'm in a program that actually appreciates me and allows me to play to my ability."
The Bears (5-5, 2-5) entered the game with the worst defense in the Big 12. The players said after the game they were tired of hearing about their ineptitude. Kansas State bore the brunt of their frustrations.
"We've been getting bashed for weeks but with the No. 1 team coming in, we had a different mindset," Baylor middle linebacker Bryce Hager said. "We had belief from the beginning of the game. It's nice to prove everyone wrong."
While Baylor's defense has struggled, its offense has maintained its production in the post-RG3 Era. Through three quarters, Baylor had 540 yards of total offense, twice as much as K-State. The Bears finished with 580 yards, with 342 of that on the ground. Baylor scored five rushing touchdowns, with Glasco Martin (19 carries, 113 yards) scoring three times. Baylor averaged 7.2 yards on its 81 plays.
Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein probably will drop from the favorite role in the Heisman Trophy race. He was 27 of 50 for 286 yards but had three interceptions - matching his total for the season coming into the game. Because they were chasing points from the start, Klein had to attempt a career high number of passes. That's not the way the Wildcats like to play.
"It's a position we haven't been in, but it's partly our fault on the offensive side for not putting points on the board," said Klein, who had 17 rushing attempts for 39 yards.
Uncharacteristic defensive mistakes in the first half put Kansas State into a 28-7 hole. The Wildcats countered the Bears' first TD with their own but then allowed Baylor to score 21 in a row. The second touchdown in that run was a stinger.
On a first and 10 from the K-State 23, Baylor quarterback Nick Florence fumbled a handoff but recovered. On the next play, he was intercepted at the goal line but the turnover was negated when defensive end Meshak Williams was offsides. Given an opportunity, the Bears cashed in when Florence connected with Terrance Williams on a 26-yard slant for a touchdown and a 21-7 lead.
"We have a team full of players who believe that we can win every game we play," said Florence, who was 20-of-32 for 238 yards and was instrumental in Baylor converting on 10 of 15 third downs. "We have a hungry football team."
Kansas State scored 10 points in the final 1:47 of the first half to pull within 28-17 at halftime. With the Wildcats getting the second-half kickoff, momentum was moving toward the top-ranked team.
In his 35 years, Baylor defensive coordinator Phil Bennett had never beaten a No. 1 team.
"The first series of the second half was a huge series," Bennett said. "I told the guys at halftime that we'll be defined by that series. We saw how they were trying to throw vertical routes down the field."
On a third and 10 from the Wildcats' 40, Klein threw over the middle and Baylor's Sam Holl intercepted and returned it 18 yards. The Bears needed four running plays to score and take a 35-17 lead.
"Anger, frustration, obviously disappointed," Kansas State tight end Travis Tannahill said. "I'm kind of confused, I don't really know what went wrong."
Kansas State started the fourth quarter with a 21-play, 71-yard drive that took over eight minutes ... and produced nothing. The Wildcats had a first-and-goal at the six but Klein gained 4, 1, 0, and 0. Google the words "Baylor" and "goal line stand" and you won't find many matches.
"Pretty awesome, wasn't it?" Bennett said.
"They're a great power running team, Klein is a great player," Hager said. "That just shows what we can do as a defense."
Baylor's victory was the type of outcome that happens in November. It's the month where dreams go to die. It's the month where teams can see the finish line but don't see the banana peel that sends them sprawling. Kansas State is the fifth BCS No. 1 to lose to an unranked team.
"We knew that No. 1 only matters at the end," Klein said. "It's very fickle and we knew that. It hurts, and it should hurt. Even Coach (Snyder) said it should really hurt, because that means you've invested something. It means there is loss. There is pain.
"But again, like he also says, it's going to test our mettle. We'll see what kind of team we are."