Following one of the biggest upsets in recent years, the West Virginia football team travels to Waco, Texas, to take on the No. 17 Baylor Bears Saturday night.
The Mountaineers (3-2, 1-1 Big 12) come into the game against the Bears with momentum, following a major upset victory against then-No. 11 Oklahoma State. However, Baylor (3-0, 0-0) will be well-rested after playing only one game in 27 days. BU will pose a new offensive challenge the Mountaineers have not seen in five games.
“It’s pretty impressive what they’re doing,” said WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen. “They’re (the) No. 1 scoring offense in the country and No. 1 in a lot of other things. They’re averaging 750 yards and 70 points. They’ve won seven games in a row and did it pretty impressively toward the end of the year with some pretty big wins.
“They’re going to be confident and ready to go. They’re coming off a bye week, and they’re fresh and energetic. It will be a very dynamic place to play Saturday night.”
The Mountaineers realize the challenge Baylor’s offense will bring. Currently, the Bears are No. 1 in passing yards, No. 1 in points and No. 5 in rushing yards. Despite below-average competition in three games, sixth-year BU head coach Art Briles prepared his team well up to this point in the season. Defensively, BU showed much improvement, as it is No. 2 in points against. The most points Baylor gave up in the 2013 season is 13.
West Virginia will need to continue its solid defense play to match a high-octane and potent Baylor offense.
“It makes us realize we have to get a lot more pressure than in previous weeks,” said senior defensive lineman Shaq Rowell. “If we don’t, it’ll just be a rerun of (2012). They have a great scheme. We can’t pick up what they’re doing compared to all the other Big 12 teams. It looks the same, but it isn’t.
“Their tempo is different, and their players are different. I think they are the fastest team, not just in tempo, but all around the board: from the offensive line, to the quarterback, to the receivers. These guys are well coached.”
Junior first-year starting Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty looked sharp in the Bears’ three games in 2013. His completion rate is about 75 percent, and he’s thrown eight touchdown passes with zero interceptions.
Petty will look for senior wide receiver Tevin Reese and junior receiver Antwan Goodley to continue their steady production Saturday night. Reese comes into the conference game with 15 receptions for 350 yards and three touchdowns, while Goodley has 14 receptions for 370 yards and four touchdown grabs.
Baylor will also be balanced on the ground. Junior running back and Heisman contender Lache Seastrunk rushed for 417 yards and six touchdowns. He’s run for 111, 150 and 156 yards, respectively, in Baylor’s three victories.
Seastrunk and Briles both alluded to the amount of respect the team has for West Virginia going into this conference duel. Briles treats WVU as a threat coming off such a big victory against the Cowboys.
“We’re certainly ready to go, and we certainly have a lot of respect for West Virginia,” he said. “They’re an extremely talented football team that seems to be playing really well, especially coming off last week. If you look at the two losses they have against Oklahoma and Maryland, those are two undefeated football teams and both games were on the road.
“Oklahoma State came into their place, hadn’t been there since 1928 and West Virginia does a great job of putting on a home crowd and a home environment and did a great job of protecting their house. They really played well Saturday on both sides of the ball.”