No. 7 West Virginia set for first Big 12 game in program history
Published: Friday, September 28, 2012
Updated: Friday, September 28, 2012 07:09
No more tune-ups. Big 12 Conference play has arrived.
When No. 7 West Virginia runs out of the Milan Puskar Stadium tunnel Saturday at noon, an unfamiliar opponent – No. 24 Baylor – will be awaiting the Mountaineers.
West Virginia (3-0) will face the Bears (3-0) after defeating Maryland at home Saturday.
And the Bears will be presenting a much different challenge than the Terrapins, particularly in the speed and tempo departments.
"Baylor is faster," said West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen. "Maryland did not have a vertical passing game. They sat there and watched the clock go down to one, and then they snapped it and just tried to put it in play."
The quick tempo has helped the Bears average more than 51 points per game through their first three outings, and senior quarterback Nick Florence has been the catalyst of their offensive success.
"He’s a good player and a program player," Holgorsen said. "He understands his system, he gets them in the right play and he does a good job of completing passes. He takes some chances, and hopefully he takes a few too many that we can capitalize on."
But don’t let the offensive efficiency from Florence and company overshadow the Baylor’s talented defense, which has been exposed this season.
"They look pretty good on film. They look pretty solid on defense," said West Virginia junior wide receiver Stedman Bailey. "They have some good defensive backs, and their guys up front do a good job of creating pressure on the quarterback. They’ve given up quite a bit of points the past few games, but that’s no reason for us to take them lightly."
Multiple festivities are planned Saturday outside of the game, making this more than just another gameday in Morgantown
"I can’t wait. It’s a new experience, new game (and) new people," said West Virginia senior center Joe Madsen. "I think we are going to go out there and play our best, and hopefully we have a good time and play our hearts out. It’s a special thing. I hope we bring this conference a lot of great things."
Country music singer Trace Adkins will be performing the "Star-Spangled Banner" and fans are encouraged to stripe the stadium in blue and gold.
Much like the common theme among fans, the Mountaineer players are ready to turn to a new chapter of West Virginia athletics.
"Everybody has been waiting on this very moment," Bailey said. "Baylor is our first Big 12 opponent, and we just have to take it week by week. We’re excited to play Baylor and kick off the Big 12."