Baylor had the good fortune to be off last week where every underdog won in the Big 12. West Virginia should be furious that they didn’t get their chance to join the fun. Week 10 is here, and the Mountaineers will look to extend the chaos. They travel to Waco on Halloween and will be the ones looking to play tricks on Baylor with very few treats.
Both teams had the week off and should be rested and ready for this night game in front of a national audience. Baylor is coming off of a big win in Stillwater over Oklahoma State 45-27. West Virginia is looking to bounce back after suffering a 52-14 loss to Oklahoma. All signs point to a Baylor victory but on Halloween weird things can happen.
Baylor has a few starters banged up and will not play on Thursday. Grayland Arnold is questionable and listed as back up on the depth chart released by Baylor. Freshman defensive lineman Gabe Hall is out this week and T.J. Franklin will be the primary backup for Bravvion Roy. Also worth noting is playmaker Trestan Ebner will play but may be limited as he is still banged up from earlier in the season.
For West Virginia, the off week could not have come at a better time. It allowed the team to rest up and especially quarterback Austin Kendall. Head coach Neal Brown stated that Kendall has been dealing with a cut on his hand before the Texas game and a chest injury and that he is probably the healthiest he has been all season. The Mountaineers will need all hands on deck when they travel to Waco to take on the Bears.
- When: Thurs, Oct 31, 7:00 PM CT
- Where: McLane Stadium
- Weather: Partly Cloudy high of 53°F
- TV: ESPN
- Stream: WatchESPN
- Line: Baylor -18, O/U: 57
West Virginia Mountaineers (3-4)
West Virginia got their bye week at a much needed time. The Mountaineers have lost three straight, with the last two in blowout fashion. Every player on the team seems to be banged up. The week off should have revamped the squad a bit. West Virginia doesn’t get the usual 14 days off however. The showdown against Baylor is on Thursday night.
The Mountaineers continue to put quarterback Austin Kendall in a tough spot. He has taken some hits in the past few games but will again see the majority of snaps in this one. The run game is struggling way more than expected. Seven games into the year, the hope that it fixes itself is all but gone.
The receivers are doing all they can for West Virginia. It’s the inexperience that’s hurting them. Ali Jennings is a name to look out for as his contribution continues to grow week by week. The offensive line is a work in progress. In games like the one against N.C State they’ve looked very capable of doing their job but recently opposing defensive lines have lived in the backfield. The Mountaineers need improvement from all facets of the offense.
The defense is as inconsistent as a coin flip. Some drives are very good. In others, the local middle school could run the ball down their throat. The Stills brothers can clog up the offensive line. When they’re on their game they can carry this defense. Recently, that hasn’t been the case.
The linebacker group, while depleted, is gaining much needed experience. But there isn’t a name, especially after VanDarius Cowans season ending injury, that should scare the Baylor offense. The corners are probably the “strength” of the defense. Keith Washington is hoping to make a return from injury. Josh Norwood is a solid corner but continues to struggle against the better wide receivers, hopefully the return of Washington can help with that.
West Virginia Keys To The Game
Come out fast: Last year these two teams played on a Thursday night and the Mountaineers ended the game before Baylor got off the team bus. West Virginia came out flying and put the Bears to rest right away. Baylor will try to do the same thing this week, West Virginia needs to be ready.
Keep the ball on offense: This Mountaineer defense is a banged up mess right now. Keeping them off the field for as long as possible might be the best idea for Neal Brown and staff.
Trey Lowe?: West Virginia can’t pass block or run the ball. Austin Kendall isn’t good enough in the passing game to make it worth sacrificing mobility in the pocket. Trey Lowe can extend plays and add a dynamic rushing attack, his arm also couldn’t be much worse than Kendall. I’m completely behind Austin Kendall and think he’s the guy this year, but letting Lowe see some meaningful snaps can’t hurt.
The Mountaineers missed out on an opportunity last week. The Big 12 seemed to be full of underdog wins and West Virginia unfortunately didn’t join the party. This week of Big 12 football won’t start with an upset, however. Baylor blows the Mountaineers out in this one.
12 Baylor Bears (7-0)
By Matt Workman
Baylor enters week 10 finding itself all alone at the top of the Big 12 Standings. Thanks to a week 9 blood week that saw every favorite lose. Oklahoma lost to a Kansas State team that Baylor beat 31-12. Texas lost to a TCU team that had previously lost to Kansas State 24-17. Oklahoma State defeated Iowa State who had just defeated Texas Tech on the road, poor sweet Texas Tech lost in horrible fashion to Kansas on a second chance last-second field goal.
But all that is secondary to the task at hand defeating West Virginia on Thursday night. Matt Rhule said that during the off week his staff did not go recruiting they are all on West Virginia. Every activity that the staff and players did were geared towards preparing for West Virginia.
The main component to all that is Maxwell Award semifinalist Charlie Brewer. Brewer has thrown for 1,866 yards and 12 touchdowns with a 66 percent completion percentage. Brewer had his worst game of the season last year against West Virginian and he will be looking for retribution Thursday night in Waco.
Brewer isn’t the only one who remembers last year’s game in Morgantown. Baylor was run out of the stadium with WVU jumping out to 41-0 lead at halftime on their way to a 58-14 win over the Bears. Rhule definitely remembers as he has made a point to mention in several media sessions. He uses the word embarrassed when addressing the game last year.
Baylor Keys To Victory
Start fast: Baylor cannot have their typical slow start that they have had in the last three games. The bears to get up early on the Mountaineers to squelch any idea that this is going to be a close game or an upset of any kind.
Establish the run early: West Virginia is average at best at stopping the run and Baylor needs to run the ball early and often to open up the passing game for the speedy Baylor wide receivers. West Virginia is one of the worst in Big 12 in pass defense and Baylor should exploit this fact.
Keep Brewer clean: West Virginia has been good and getting to the quarterback. For Baylor to be successful they will need to keep Charlie Brewer clean and upright. Baylor has all the talent to do this they will just need to execute at their peak level in this game.
Baylor has a great opportunity to separate itself from the other contenders for the Big 12 title game. They will get all the attention in the college football world on a nationally televised broadcast on ESPN. I think Baylor will take full advantage of the situation and be the clear better team on Thursday. I think Charlie Brewer and his receivers have a big game and win by a couple of touchdowns.