Fearless Picks: WVU – Baylor
It was a stellar week for our panel. Every member called for a high-scoring Mountaineer victory, and that’s exactly what played out, even though it looked in doubt mid-way through the third quarter. Brian missed the final point total by just four, followed by Greg and Matt (6 each), Andy (8), and Jon (12).
This week, the emphasis will again be on the point differentials, as no one sees the Bears breaking through for their first win of the season.
Last Week: W Season Record: 6-0 Point Differential: 80
Baylor is trying to avoid starting a season 0-7 for the first time since 1969, when the Bears finished the season 0-10. The winless Bears own the 11th toughest schedule in the country and have been competitive in all their games except last week against Oklahoma State, which was a 59-16 blowout. Overlooking a team like Baylor would be catastrophic for the Mountaineers – just ask Clemson and Washington. Starting QB’s Will Grier and Zach Smith could have field days against pass defenses that rank 117th (Baylor) and 97th (WVU) in the country. The team that can get a few pass break-ups or a couple of interceptions will go a long way in determining the victor on Saturday. The Mountaineers will start slow but should be able to top the Bears by a couple of touchdowns.
West Virginia 45-31
Last Week: W Season Record: 6-0 Point Differential: 115
West Virginia snatched victory from the jaws of defeat after a tough start last weekend vs. Texas Tech. Next week, Oklahoma State comes to town with what will likely be a Top 10 ranking. Caught in between is a game against winless Baylor. Should be a breeze, right? Not likely. Teams with nothing to lose are the hardest to prepare for. Baylor, in year one of a complete program overhaul, is looking for tangible progress. They will give the Mountaineers their best shot.
West Virginia 38-34
Last Week: W Season Record: 5-1 Point Differential: 81
Baylor has given up at least 33 points to every Power Five foe it has faced. The Bears rank ninth or worse in the Big 12 in scoring offense and defense, rushing offense and defense and total defense. And it isn’t as though BU played a difficult out of conference schedule in addition to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. The Bears again loaded up with the likes of Liberty, UTSA and Duke and were promptly beaten by all three.
That written, this game presents some danger for West Virginia. The Mountaineers have never beaten Baylor on the road, and have allowed 135 points in two defeats there – including the second-most points ever allowed in school history in one game (73). Head coach Matt Rhule is taking the long-game approach, trying to shore up fundamentals and not getting away from the running game even hen far behind as he tries to establish a foundation. WVU should have enough in the tank for this one, but a handful of blown assignments, turnovers and poor special teams play will quickly close the gap. Hang on, folks. This could be a tight one in Waco.
West Virginia 42-31
Last Week: W Season Record: 5-1 Point Differential: 85
Coming off an emotional comeback win over Texas Tech, West Virginia can’t afford a letdown against winless Baylor. The Bears present what could be a potential trap game. However, the Mountaineers appear focused and energized heading to Waco. Offense and more offense is what to look for out of the Mountaineers.
West Virginia 48-27
Last Week: W Season Record: 5-1 Point Differential: 92
This week’s road game at Baylor is one of those games that you look at and think to yourself, “this one should easily be a win”. The struggling Bears will be looking for an upset win and their first victory of the season and if WVU is not in the right mind set, that very well could happen. Although Baylor got smacked last week at the hands of Oklahoma State, let’s not forget that this Baylor team also took Oklahoma down to the wire in a close game just a month ago… the potential is there. My prediction is that the WVU’s offense will continue to build off of last Saturday’s momentum and the Bears will have a tough time with their bottom of the Big 12 defense. Mountaineers get win number five.
West Virginia 42-17
Last Week: W Season Record: 5-1 Point Differential: 94
Other than having lost in its only two previous trips to Waco, there isn’t an area WVU should be greatly concerned. BU has the worst offense in the Big 12 and the second worst defense. That’s a bad combo. Still, the Bears show just enough fight to worry a Mountaineer club that may not be perfect, but is clearly better than Baylor.
West Virginia 39-24
Last Week: W Season Record: 5-1 Point Differential: 101
A winless Baylor team is still a dangerous group with elite athletes at nearly every position, and not that far removed from 10-win seasons. That being said, West Virginia should absolutely win this game, or it has no chance to obtain the goals set in the offseason: namely, a Big 12 championship game appearance and a noteworthy bowl game invite. Motivation won’t be sky high for WVU’s players, but should be sufficient to escape Waco with a win.
West Virginia 48-30