WVU out to prove itself against No. 17 Baylor
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — When West Virginia upset then-No. 11 Oklahoma State last week at Milan Puskar Stadium, it served notice that it was too early to write off the Mountaineers in the Big 12 race.
However, it doesn't get any easier for WVU, which travels to Waco, Texas, to face the top offensive team in the country in No. 17 Baylor. West Virginia is a 28-point underdog.
Baylor averages 69.7 points and has not had a 3-and-out all season, while WVU enters with its third quarterback of the season in Clint Trickett, who will make his second consecutive start.
The Florida State transfer shook off a shoulder injury to engineer last week's upset of the Cowboys.
He will have to be at his best. Despite an improved defense — WVU outlasted Baylor, 70-63, last season — the Mountaineers still figure to have to score often to defeat the Bears again.
The Bears said they believe it's possible to repeat last season's outburst.
“We're going to play them like we do everybody else,” said running back and Heisman Trophy candidate Lache Seastrunk.
“Everybody's a threat. We're going to treat them like a threat, and we're going to win games.”
Quarterback Bryce Petty said Baylor can equal its output — and maybe score more.
“You never want to think of football as a revenge type of game,” he said. “We are ready to go out there. Even though we did score 63 points last year, there were still points left out there. As a team, a couple things just didn't go our way, but I thought we played really well being in that atmosphere.”
The confident Mountaineers defense isn't sure Baylor will move up and down the field the way the Bears did last season.
In that game, WVU quarterback Geno Smith rewrote the record book, throwing for 656 yards and eight touchdowns. Stedman Bailey finished with 303 yards receiving.
Not to be outdone, Baylor quarterback Nick Florence threw for 581 yards.
“It's a new week. It's Baylor. It's a tough team,” linebacker Jared Barber said. “(They're) definitely good offensively. We still have a chip on our shoulder, and people still are not giving us much respect. I think we are a four-touchdown underdog. We just have to go out and play hard.”
WVU has to improve on its offensive showing against Oklahoma State. Trickett completed 24 of 50 passes for 309 yards and a touchdown, but he had problems getting plays from Holgorsen.
However, Trickett showed an ability to improvise and keep plays alive long enough that something good resulted.
He will need more of that Saturday.
Bob Hertzel is a freelance writer.