Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk leads the Big 12 and ranks ninth nationally with 139 yards rushing per game.


WACO, Texas — So much for WVU beating Oklahoma State. So much for Baylor beating a consortium of marching bands in helmets.

Las Vegas giggles at this matchup.

West Virginia was still feeling pretty saucy about taking down the Big 12 preseason favorites when linebacker Jared Barber caught wind the Mountaineers were 27-point underdogs to Baylor. He was bruised and confused by a point spread that made even less sense than Condoleezza Rice appearing on a football playoff committee.

“We beat the 11th-ranked team last week and to come back Sunday and still be four-touchdown underdog just keeps us hungry,” Barber said. “A lot of people are mad about it, but to me, it’s fueling us.”

Fuel is currency this week, especially as Dana Holgorsen implores his guys to “empty the tank” against a No. 17 Baylor bunch that has proven nothing but proven it in spectacular fashion.

Carving through Wofford, Buffalo and Louisiana-Monroe at a surreal clip of 69.7 points per game, the Bears seemingly have fused offensive football with an Olympic 4×400 relay team. And instead of gold medals they’ll be sporting golden helmets Saturday night upon hosting the nary-a-chance Mountaineers at Floyd Casey Stadium.

Understand, it’s an absolute prerequisite to mock Baylor’s nonconference schedule—because no team allegedly capable of winning the Big 12 should wade such a flimsy string of warmups. (Yes, Wofford was a late fill-in after SMU canceled this year’s game; but Baylor’s future nonconference schedules don’t hold much meat.)

The lack of competition makes it difficult to gauge these Bears and their first-string offense scoring on 22 of 26 drives. (Defensive coordinator Keith Patterson said he had trouble building a profile because those starters haven’t played three games, but rather three halves.) The execution, however, has been virtually flawless, with Bryce Petty hitting receivers spread sideline to sideline and Lache Seastrunk averaging more than a first down per carry.

“Your help is so far away from you, and the running back is so explosive, that if you don’t fit in the right gap he’s gone,” said WVU linebacker Doug Rigg. “If they break it through a seam, we’re not going to catch them, no matter what the angle is. Oklahoma State was more bruisers, bigger guys. These guys are blazers.”

Forced into only one punt through three games, Baylor’s starters have yet to experience the indignity of a three-and-out.

“Instead, they’re seeing one-and-outs,” said West Virginia nose guard Shaq Rowell, “and it’s them throwing one play and scoring a touchdown.”

It has been too easy for Baylor so far, and easy games tend to disappear once league play begins. WVU has two Big 12 games to draw upon—against two of the league’s top teams—and both times the Mountaineers exceeded expectations.

“But nobody still gives us any respect,” said Barber.

There will be respect gained Saturday night, just not quite enough to pull off a second straight upset.

Pick: Baylor 33-28

Ranking the other Big 12 games:

1. No. 11 Oklahoma 23, TCU 20: (Sooners -9) Coming off a big win in front of Touchdown Jesus, the Sooners get the bejeezus scared out of them at home.

2. No. 21 Oklahoma State 37, Kansas State 27: (Cowboys -13.5) Man, what would Mike Gundy give for a do-over at the 1-yard line against West Virginia. His team will see better results against a K-State defense allowing 49 percent on third-down conversions.

3. No. 20 Texas Tech 24, Kansas 17: (Red Raiders -16) Twice during their 21-game Big 12 losing streak, the Jayhawks had Texas Tech on the ropes. This looks like another near-miss.

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  • hojo77

    "West Virginia finds fuel as a huge underdog"

    Someone must have punched a hole in the gas tank !

  • Shepinwvlc

    I hope wvu wins!! Even in a loss, go mountaineers!!!
    God bless the young man from South Harrison High School.

    No matter what happens to this country, it's always a Good Day to be a mountaineer.

  • Big Larry

    @ Texan fo lyfe

    1: do you have directions to the best brisket in Waco

    2: do you have the direction to the 2nd best brisket in Waco

    3: I think you and A. Taylor are the same person.

    Baylor -79
    WVU - 5

  • dogpoundheart

    @Texan for life, last week was just proof that WVU has a good football team. Maryland was a fluke, playing in a monsoon with butter on our hands. If you think WVU isn't a threat then its a good thing you don't coach any of the teams we play. As I see it WVU just started playing last weekend so wait and see, we did beat texas at texas last year and our d was awful, not the same this year texass may not even score on us this year!

  • Ricardo

    I wouldn't go dismissing Baylor's talent because of who they have played. Good teams take care of business, no matter who they play, and they have done just that. The fact is, we have our hands full tonight. If you don't think Art Briles used our upset as ammo to engage his players, you are mistaking. However, if our offense shows up, and we play mistake-free football on special teams, we win by 3.

  • William101

    We're a bi-polar group of fans, either really low or really high. Who would have thought that a Randy Esall coached Maryland team could score 37 and shut us out. What an awful day. And then we come back and upset a ranked OSU team at home?

    I don't know what to expect vs. Baylor. It has gaudy numbers on O & D against inferior opponents. It is on the road, and it would be a big challenge for any recent WVU team to overcome.

    That being said, I believe the players have confidence. If we can win the turnover battle, it should be a much better game than most suspect.

    Hard for me to pick against WVU as a fan. My mind says we lose by 17, and my heart says we win by a field goal, with Lambert, a Texas hs player, kicking a 50+ yard FG.

    • Allan Taylor

      If Lambert's kicking WITH the wind today, he'll be good from 65. If he's kicking INTO the wind, Holgorsen better go for it on fourth down. GUSTING!

  • Bim

    Good article! We will win if the defense can win the game. Special teams has been an embarrassment all season, I don't expect any change as the same coach is involved. He is a loser!

  • Texan For Life

    The mountaineers are overrated. Last week was a fluke. They will choke and lose. WVLose has no business in the Big 12. Get out of our conference!

    • Dustin

      Seems WVU beat Texas last year, not bragging WV has its problems. Just stating fact.

  • big tom

    Baylor actually hasn't really beaten a quality team yet, but they have a very good offense, and we'll see if wvu is up to the task, as they say.
    my guess is, Baylor wins,,,how much ,well, by 21 pts.
    I am not convinced Clint has recovered from his shoulder injury and it will limit him ... too bad for our offense.
    deforest just has to go. He brings bad karma, his troubles at ok state, his terrible defense at wvu, his terrible special teams at wvu, and this is holgie's buddy. So what do we do with his face contract? Give it to someone who deserves it. Deforest is a joke.

  • cutty77

    Baylor hasn't played anybody that will hit them like WVU will. Baylor will be very cocky to start the game,there breaking out some new uni's. So its a perfect set up for US. Thats being said we can't make anymore stupid mistakes on Special Teams either. We gave the Sooners 10 points, and gave Maryland 14 easy points also. I think the stupid special team plays are out of our system. It was Good to see Our Field Goal Kicker make some kicks last week to, maybe the sign of good things to come on that end. The Defense will show up again tonight.

  • 1olewvufan

    Baylor will not score 50 or more points against WVU tonight!!!

    Here is what I'm expecting to see this evening:
    - WVU's D will slow down Baylor's run game
    - WVU's D will get 3 or 4 turn-overs
    - WVU's will put a dent in Baylor's deep-routes
    - Baylor will be punting more in this game than they have all season

    - WVU's Special Teams will show much improvement

    The reason for the D is that Baylor's Offensive players haven't been hit this hard all season. We all know how hard #8 Karl Joseph and others hit.

    - WVU's Offense will have an improved running game
    - We'll WVU hit on short, medium and deep routes
    - WVU receivers got a taste of making tough catches against OSU, and with Jordan Thompson making ESPN highlight reels, others are hungry for the same. I think "Squirt's" play last week has ignited the other receivers.
    The big reason for WVU's new found success is that WVU now has a QB that lead on and off the field. Trickett gained a lot of respect from the Offense by how he played last week. Also, Trickett took his OL out to dinner and paid for hit this week. Look to see improved OL play.

    Special Team Returners were embarrassed last week with the dumb mistakes. This alone will cause them to play better.

    I look for WVU to win this by 10, and WVU fans will see Millard at QB late in the 4th for clean-up.

    GO EERs!!!

  • BIG J

    Big Bad Baylor ? Really? Who have they played?? Let's go Mountaineers!!!!!!!!

  • Mountaineer fanatic

    Last year we had a fast offense. Texas Tech shut us down and the next four did the same. Our defense has to play their very best. We have to stop them. Our offense has to show up tonight. Last year I kept asking that they bring a defense. This year I am praying for an offense and that the defense does not give up. LETS GOOOOOO MOUNTAINEERS

  • Chris

    The odds makers are idiots no way they beat us by 4 tds only way that happens if WVU turns the ball over a dozen times besides that who has Baylor played a bunch of cream puffs and coming off a bye week is not good either going to be rusty would be my guess.

  • Chet Ubetcha

    Speed kills on teams with limited athleticism, like Buffalo and ULM. Against a legitimate D-1 defense, a team shouldn't be able to score 70 points. Even Oregon had their set backs, remember the Stanford team that shut them down with good assignment defense. These timing offenses have down weeks, let's hope Baylors is tonight. Let's go Mountaineers!