WACO (AP) – After scoring all those points in four lopsided games to start the season, Antwan Goodley and the 12th-ranked Baylor Bears knew they would be — and needed to be — challenged.
The Bears would like to get back to what they were doing after passing the test.
“That’s what we’re shooting for, getting back to normal pace,” said Goodley, the Big 12’s top receiver with 136 yards per game and six touchdowns.
Baylor (5-0, 2-0 Big 12) averaged more than 70 points in its first four games, all at home, before the Bears had to come from behind with two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to win 35-25 at Kansas State.
“It was huge, because things had gone pretty much to script prior to that, and we knew it wasn’t going to maintain that way,” coach Art Briles said. “Going there at K-State and coming away with a hard-fought win was a big thing for us from a team and program standpoint.”
The Bears have won nine games in a row, one short of matching the school record that has stood since 1937. They return home Saturday and are favored by more than four touchdowns against Iowa State (1-4, 0-2), even though the Cyclones beat them last year in Ames.
Defending co-Big 12 champ Kansas State had been waiting nearly 11 months for a chance to avenge what happened last season, when the Wildcats got to Waco as the No. 1 team in the BCS standings and lost 52-24. The Bears had never won at K-State, including the Heisman Trophy winning season for Robert Griffin two years ago when the Wildcats scored 10 points in the final 5:43 for a one-point victory.
“We handled adversity really well and we got through it,” Bears linebacker Sam Hall said. “It really gave us some confidence.”
After Iowa State, the Bears have a closing stretch of games against all of the other teams in the top half of the Big 12 standings. Winning at Kansas State provided some validation for Briles about what his team is capable of.
“Now you have factual reality that they can lean on,” Briles said. “That’s what it does for me because you never know, you never know until you do something. We’ve never been up there and won before. … That’s a good sign.”
The Bears have their third Saturday off already this season after Iowa State. But that leads into a Thursday night home game against 18th-ranked Oklahoma, before they play No. 16 Texas Tech and No. 21 Oklahoma State. They also go to TCU and finish the regular season at home against Texas.
Baylor is still the nation’s most productive offense, with 715 total yards and 63 points a game. That was even after outgaining K-State by only six yards and being held to 451 yards, 241 below their previous low that came in its season opener that had also been their lowest-scoring game with 69 points.
“We needed that test to show where we were as a team, so I felt like it kind of helped us a lot,” Goodley said. “We knew they were going to slow the game. It required a lot of focus, and that’s what we needed.”
Briles noticed a real calm in his team this week, and not a complete sense of accomplishment.
“We won the game, which was the ultimate goal, but we knew we could do a lot better, play a lot better, coach a lot better,” Briles said. “There’s a lot more left out there.”
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