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Shootout Weekend in Waco Expected for WVU Football against Baylor

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia Mountaineers (2-3) and the Baylor Bears (4-1) began competition in 2012, when WVU and TCU joined the Big 12 Conference.

The then-No. 25 Bears were just barely defeated 70-63 in Morgantown by a WVU football team lead by quarterback Geno Smith and second-year head coach Dana Holgorsen. The Mountaineers went 7-6 that season, but recorded two consecutive conference upsets over Baylor and then-No. 11 Texas.

Smith’s stats that game (45-51 passing for 656 yards and eight touchdowns) were stellar, and set up the Mountaineers-Bears rivalry for a series fraught with shootouts.

2013 dealt the Mountaineers’ first program loss to a then-No.16 Bears team, and the matchup’s second largest margin of victory. In Waco, Baylor downed West Virginia 73-42. It was an unfortunate test failed by the Mountaineers, as it showcased the 2013 team’s blatant weaknesses. Quarterback Clint Trickett’s team went 4-8 that season, tacking the depressing loss to Baylor on for a 2-7 conference record.

The pendulum of the next two seasons swung back and forth, as each team nabbed a home win. The Mountaineers tallied a 41-27 win at Milan Puskar Stadium in 2014 to a then-No. 4 Baylor team, registering the series’ first upset in epic fashion. Redshirt senior Clint Trickett avenged his 2013 performance by stacking together 322 yards from 23-35 for three touchdowns, two of which fell into the awaiting hands of senior wide receiver Kevin White.

Now down in the series, 2-1, the then-No. 2 Bears dominated a second series victory 62-38 in 2015 at McLane Stadium, en route to a 10-3 season. The WVU offense, run by junior quarterback Skyler Howard, was no match for the Bears’ productivity, even though the WVU offense strung together 289 passing yards for four touchdowns and an interception. Baylor passed for 100 more yards and six touchdowns, averaging two scores a quarter, effectively crushing any hope of a late-game Mountaineer comeback. It became the last out-of-hand WVU loss in the series.

From 2016 on, the Mountaineers and Bears games have come down to a fewer than six-point spread in all but one meeting. The next three seasons fell in Holgorsen’s team’s favor. In 2016, the series’ only December game, Mountaineer consistency won in Morgantown. The Mountaineers added scores each quarter, but the Bears rallied back in the last three minutes of play, securing a loss, but only by a field goal’s margin, 24-21.

WVU beat up on then-interim head coach, and Huntington, W.Va. native, Jim Grobe’s team again in 2017, adding the Mountaineers’ first road win against the Bears 38-36. Quarterback Will Grier and the Mountaineers lead the entire game, but allowed the Bears 30 second half points, including a down-to-the-wire touchdown with 17 seconds remaining in regulation. A squeaked-out win is still a win though, and the Mountaineers added a second-straight win to the series record, then at 4-2.

The largest margin of victory came in 2018, when the Mountaineers welcomed the Bears back to Morgantown to the tune of a 58-14 trouncing. Grier, Holgorsen, and the Mountaineers held Baylor to three scoreless quarters, while they tacked on an average of 14.5 points a quarter. Grier finished the game 17-27 for 353 yards and three touchdowns. Backup quarterback Jack Allison registered a touchdown, the final score of the game, to boost the Mountaineers to a third-straight series win.

When the Neal Brown era began, the WVU-Baylor rivalry got back to the nail-biter matchup that Mountaineer fans were accustomed to. 2019 dealt Brown’s first Baylor game a 17-14 loss in Waco. The score flipped three different times, aided by a 95-yard kickoff return from a then-freshman Winston Wright Jr. WVU quarterback Austin Kendall posted 205 yards passing, including a 83-yard touchdown pass to redshirt senior wide receiver George Campbell, but it wasn’t enough. With that win, Baylor head coach Matt Rhule, in his last season with the Bears, would go on to win Big 12 Coach of the Year.

2020 continued the matchup’s thriller games, but brought the action back to Milan Puskar Stadium. WVU added a fifth home series win in double overtime, 27-21. Brown’s team, lead by then-redshirt junior quarterback Jarret Doege, swapped single-score quarters with the Bears the entire game. Inside the final two minutes of play, the Bears capitalized on a 34-yard touchdown pass that tied the score at 14 with 1:19 left to play. Forced into a first overtime period, the Mountaineers and Bears were in pure battle mode. Only 978 fans were in attendance, but they were in for a treat.

WVU got on the board first, five plays deep, off a six-yard pass from Doege to Bryce Ford-Wheaton in the corner of the end zone. With far too much time to play, the Mountaineer lead jumped to 21-14. When Baylor’s quarterback Charlie Brewer caught the WVU defense looking, a single-play, 25-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Ben Sims tied the score yet again.

When the second overtime kicked off, WVU fans watched as Leddie Brown quickly strung three separate short-yardage rushes together, a total of 12 yards, including a final three-yard rush into the end zone to win the game 27-21. This latest iteration of the WVU-Baylor matchup pushed WVU into the series lead, in possession of a 6-3 record.

As the 2021 Mountaineers fly to Waco today, they’ll look to continue the win streak, while breaking a 1-3 road record against the Bears and an 0-6 road losing streak under Brown. The 10th meeting of these two conference foes will kick off at 12 p.m. EST on FS1.

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