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Quick start key for Kansas in Waco

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Baylor wide receiver Denzel Mims in the first half of  game against West Virginia Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Jerry Larson)

Baylor wide receiver Denzel Mims in the first half of game against West Virginia Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Jerry Larson)

Kansas scored its first back-to-back football victories since the first two games of the 2011 season by drawing first blood, taking big leads and forcing poor passing teams to try to play catch-up with an air attack.

The Jayhawks took a 21-0 lead midway through the third quarter at Central Michigan on Pooka Williams’ second long touchdown run. They put Rutgers in a 24-7 hole in the first minute of the second quarter on Mike Lee’s 31-yard pick six.

Kansas has been on the other side of that equation repeatedly in recent seasons against Baylor, which has taken big early leads against passing-challenged KU teams year after year.

In the first half of the past five games of the series, Baylor has outscored Kansas, 208-20. Rounding to the nearest number, that's an average halftime score of 42-4.

This KU squad has shown signs it could be the best at the school in several years in most areas, especially in forcing turnovers and fielding an explosive running game.

Yet, one thing hasn’t changed. KU still doesn’t have a productive passing game and therefore still can’t expect to get away with falling far behind.

KU ranks last in the Big 12 in passing yards (483), yards per pass attempt (5.4), yards per completion (9.1) and touchdown receptions (four). Kansas also is the only team that has not thrown an interception, a statistic that says more about its ability to hold leads than to come from behind.

Baylor has won the past eight games in the series, the past five by scoring early blowouts. The halftime scores, from 2013 through 2018: 38-0, 39-7, 52-7, 42-0, 21-6.

The failure to eliminate big plays in the passing game has dogged Kansas in the series in recent years.

In the past eight games, all Baylor victories, two Bears running backs (Shock Linwood and Lache Seastrunk) and seven wide receivers have had 100-yard games. The receivers: Josh Gordon, Kendall Wright, Tevin Reese, Terrance Williams, Corey Coleman two years in a row and Denzel Mims.

It’s imperative Kansas gets off to a strong start Saturday for the 2:30 p.m. kickoff in Waco.

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