A snap over the quarterback's head and a bobbled snap by Baylor's punter gave the Wildcats 10 second-half points. Kansas State (3-1, 1-0 Big 12 Conference) was outgained, but the big plays proved to be enough to hand Baylor its fifth straight loss.
Baylor (0-5, 0-2) had not started a season 0-5 since they finished 0-10 in 1969.
Trailing 20-3 at halftime, Baylor took the second-half kickoff and used nearly half the third quarter on a 16-play, 65-yard drive, but it only led to a 27-yard field goal by Connor Martin.
Following a Kansas State punt, Baylor cut the lead to 20-13 when John Lovett raced through the middle of the Wildcats defense for a 74-yard touchdown run.
Baylor appeared to be driving for a potential tying score when the center snap sailed over quarterback Zach Smith. The ball rolled all the way back to the 14-yard-line, where it was recovered by defensive end Kyle Ball. Two plays later, quarterback Jesse Ertz ran it in from the 15 to give the Wildcats a 27-13 lead.
Baylor responded with another big play, this time a 70-yard touchdown pass from Smith to Denzel Mims. Kansas State took 4:48 off the clock, ending with a 49-yard field goal by Matthew McCrane to extend the lead to 30-20 with 8:06 left.
The Bears managed only one first down before being forced to punt. The snap bounced off Martin's hands, with Kansas State recovering on the Baylor 17. The Wildcats settled for another McCrane field goal.
The victory was not secured until defensive end Kendall Adams cut in front of Pooh Stricklin to intercept Smith's pass with 2:44 left.
Kansas State got off to a quick start with a four-play, 75-yard drive after the opening kickoff. The big play was a 38-yard run by Alex Barnes, and the drive was capped by a 16-yard pass from Ertz to Isaiah Zuber for the touchdown.
Following an exchange of field goals, a fumble on a punt return by D.J. Reed set up Baylor at Kansas State's 14-yard line. But two negative plays and an incomplete pass pushed Baylor back to the 27, where Martin's 44-yard field goal attempt was blocked.
That fired up the Wildcats' offense, which responded with a six-play, 73-yard drive for a 17-3 lead. Winston Dimel punched it in from the 1-yard line.
A 21-yard field goal by McCrane made the halftime score 20-3.