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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  • 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!

  • Big Larry


    That's a lot of effort for something very few will read and even fewer will understand...

    For that Kudos...

    • Tomgone12

      Thanks for the K's Big L.....
      Looks from your post this week like you and the Athlon guy are generally aligned giving WVU what 60+ points? I'll take it.

      • Big Larry


        Who knows what will happen? Baylor could blow out WVU or WVU could make it a dog fight....anything could happen and I guess that is why they play the game.

        On paper, Baylor is the better team but they don't play games on paper...

        The game however is being played at "their house" which gives them the advantage...

  • wvtd

    Go Mountaineers!!

  • Tomgone12

    Allan, I heard the guy from Athlon on SWSL Thursday predict 63-10 and had to laugh. Baylor hung 63 on us last year and we were scoring in less than 2 minutes and turning the ball back over to the Baylor O. THAT prediction is the definition of no love and I hope Barber, Shaq and the rest of the D got wind of it. This year, while Baylor averages 69 points a game, their D has outscored their oppenents O. Baylor appears to play as fast as Oregon. Yet, hard to imagine theat they will score 63 if we hold onto the ball. Your prediction of allowing 33 seems like a pretty good number not really knowing what they got based on the three teams they played. The Buffalo Bulls appear to be the best D that Baylor has played and the Buckeyes scored only 5 touchdowns on them while giving up what 9 to Baylor. I was at Ohio State game and Bulls could not stop the break away run up the middle and Braxton Miller burned their corners pretty easily. WVU's defense is clealry better than the Bulls. So, will the Bears score 5 TDs and a filed goal on the WVU defense? One TD+ every quarter? I hope Keith Patterson has schemed them up and while the dude from Athlon has little cred, I hope someone played the audio clip from Thursday nights SWSL for the D.

  • JaneM

    I picked West Virginia to win this game, it will be a dogfight and the Mountaineers will pull it out. Close but a win is a win..