I [countdown id=”458″ show_venue=”1″ show_league=”1″ align=”none”]
Kickoff: 8pm est
Game Time Weather: 77º with a chance of thunderstorms in the 2nd half
|Points Per Game||44.2||25.3|
|Points Allowed Per Game||27.8||40.0|
|Pass Yards Allowed||243.2||276.5|
|Rush Yards Allowed||210.7||241.2|
On Saturday evening, West Virginia heads into Waco, Texas – a place that has not been too kind to them since joining the Big XII. Both times the Mountaineers have played in Waco, Baylor has averaged 67.5 points against West Virginia and a 27.5 point margin of victory.
The road team has never won a game in this series, which the Mountaineers lead 3-2.
It’s been 2 years since Art Briles roamed the sidelines for the Baylor Bears and first year head coach Matt Rhule is going through some growing pains with a program that has deeper issues than just football.
Baylor’s offense is used to being at the top of the Big XII, but they are ranked 7th in total offense and 9th in scoring offense this season.
This is not the Baylor offense the Big XII has seen the last five plus years. The talent isn’t there and injuries have plagued the Bears this year. Most noticeably, wide receiver Chris Platt has been missed on the outside. Platt was a big-time playmaker, averaging 100.2 yards a game, 25.1 yards a reception and had 5 touchdowns on the year before he went out to a season ending injury. Also, wide receiver Pooh Stricklin will be out this weekend.
The receiving core has been depleted, but they still have some talent on the outside and it starts with Denzel Mims. Mims is currently their leading receiver (27 rec, 553 yards) and has big playmaking ability, leading the team with 7 touchdowns and 20.5 yards per reception.
Baylor hasn’t had much consistency at quarterback. Zach Smith won the starting the job week three when they traveled to Durham, North Carolina to take on the Duke Blue Devils after Arizona transfer Anu Solomon wasn’t getting the job done.
Smith hasn’t flourished under the new offensive system under Matt Rhule. He has struggled with his accuracy, completing 52.5% of his passes on the year and 6 interceptions.
The running game has been almost non-existent. The offensive line has not played well and the lack of depth has shown with hardly any push up front.
Leading rusher John Lovett (72 carries, 404 yards, 3 TD) is questionable for the game and JaMycal Hasty (17 carries, 71 yards, 1 TD) is expected to start in his place with Terence Williams (32 carries, 154 yards) to help carry the load.
Baylor runs a 4-3 defensive scheme and is led by sophomore linebacker Clay Johnston (45 tackles, 9 tackles for a loss, 1 sack).
This is a young Baylor defense that has improved each week. The struggle has been at the safety position. They haven’t found the right personal to cover the back end and they are moving some guys around this week to find some consistency. Taion Sells will start at strong safety while Rajah Preciado will rotate over to free safety.
The West Virginia offensive line should get some push up front and give Justin Crawford and company running room against a Baylor defense that is giving up 241.2 yards per game.
Will Grier will do what he does best and distribute the ball to his talented receivers all over the field. With the struggle at safety for the Bears I would look for the Mountaineers to go deep often against a young secondary.
West Virginia must avoid the trap game. They cannot find themselves looking ahead to Oklahoma State coming to Morgantown next week.
Baylor has improved each week under Rhule. They almost pulled off the upset earlier in the year when Oklahoma made the trip to Waco.
For the Mountaineers to get their first win in Waco they must come out focused and not take their foot off the accelerator.
This game has me worried a little bit because the Mountaineers have yet to put a full game together. I do think West Virginia gets their 5th win of the season and improve to 3-1 in conference play with a 48-24 win.