The date was Oct. 27, 1917. The field was somewhere in Waco, Texas. The coach was C.P. “Bubs” Mosley. “Sportsmanship” was likely encouraged but not yet socially mandatory.
And the final score was inspirational: Baylor 103, Hardin-Simmons 0.
Almost 98 years later, that school scoring record might finally be in jeopardy when undefeated Baylor takes on winless Kansas. The Big 12’s back-to-back champ meets the biggest home underdog in the history of Big 12 conference play.
The No. 3 Bears opened as a 38-point favorite on Sunday. Then the gamblers went wild. Now it’s 45.
That spread is as historic and mind-boggling as it looks. Only four other Big 12 teams have been favored by more than 40 points against another Big 12 team since the league’s inception in 1996. And all four were playing at home.
But that spread does make some sense. Baylor has defeated Kansas by 45 and 46 points in their last two meetings. This year’s game pits the No. 1 offense in the country against the No. 121 defense. Kansas has scored 11 touchdowns in four games this season. So has Baylor receiver Corey Coleman.
At his weekly news conference, Kansas coach David Beaty was asked a rather harsh question: Is it possible Kansas doesn’t have a single player on its roster who could play for Baylor?
Beaty hesitated, thought on it and then responded: “Oh, man…”
He quickly crafted a reasonable, respectful answer about how Baylor has so many experienced starters while KU has younger players. In fact, Baylor’s starting lineup has logged a total of 312 career starts. Kansas has 15 starters who didn’t start a game for KU last year.
The veteran-loaded Baylor offense is scoring nearly 64 points a game. The defense awaiting them in Lawrence is giving up 40 a game. And Kansas is asking true freshman quarterback Ryan Willis to make his first career start this week.
Which begs another question: Could Baylor actually score 100 on Saturday?
Well, Baylor has scored at least 70 points against five FBS foes during the Art Briles era, but never more than 73. He's pulled his starters during the third quarter in four of those five wins. He’s stayed consistent when it comes to showing mercy.
The Bears probably could’ve gone for 100 against Buffalo or Louisiana-Monroe in 2013. In both games, they hit 63 points with more than 11 minutes left in the third quarter. Briles still sent in the second-stringers.
Getting backups playing experience late in blowouts has been an invaluable staple of Baylor’s rise to power. Briles wouldn’t sacrifice those depth-building benefits just to chase a new high score.
He also seems to have a cordial relationship with Beaty, who like Briles came up from the Texas high school coaching ranks. Probably no grudges there, nor any reason to run it up on KU. When the Jayhawks visited McLane Stadium last year, Baylor’s starters exited with a 53-14 lead and 2:12 left in the third quarter.
And when asked this week if the point spread would “blow your mind,” Briles preached on the importance of winning road games and the every-game-is-an-elimination-game challenge of the Bears’ College Football Playoff pursuit. All they’re trying to do is win.
“If we can get out of there 7 to 6, boy, I'd get on that plane just as happy as I can be,” Briles said.
In fairness to his foe, Kansas did not disappoint the last time it was this big a home underdog. That’d be Nov. 15, 2014, when a No. 4 ranked TCU team was a 28-point favorite. Nobody gave the Jayhawks a chance, yet they grabbed a 10-point lead in the third quarter and only lost 34-30.
“There wasn't any style points here,” TCU coach Gary Patterson said afterward.
Baylor should have a much easier time finding some on Saturday. Briles will keep the plan simple as usual: show up, score fast, stay perfect. “Bubs” can keep his record another week.