Baylor offense vs. West Virginia defense
Baylor finally got its running game rolling in last week’s 59-16 win over Oklahoma State as it amassed 219 yards. Terence Williams looked like the 1,000-yard rusher of last season as he picked up 95 yards on 10 carries. With freshman John Lovett doubtful with a toe injury, Williams, JaMycal Hasty and Trestan Ebner could carry the running load. The key for the Bears will be whether Zach Smith can improve on last week’s performance when he hit 11 of 28 for 127 yards with an interception. West Virginia’s defense has been solid this season but can be scored upon.
West Virginia offense vs. Baylor defense
West Virginia’s offense is one of the best in the nation, and probably can’t wait to face a Baylor defense that allowed 747 yards against the Cowboys. Will Grier has passed for 2,092 yards and a nation’s best 21 touchdowns while David Sills has caught 39 passes for 601 yards and a nation’s best 12 touchdowns. Balancing out this lethal offense is Justin Crawford who ranks second in the Big 12 with 609 yards rushing while scoring eight touchdowns. Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph torched the Bears for 459 yards and three scores, and Grier has the capability of doing the same.
Edge: West Virginia
Key matchup: West Virginia receivers vs. Baylor secondary
If Oklahoma State has the best receiving corps in the country, West Virginia could stake its claim as a strong No. 2. While David Sills leads the country with 12 touchdown catches, Gary Jennings leads the Big 12 with 48 catches for 586 yards. Ka’Raun White is another threat with 31 catches for 461 yards and five scores while Marcus Simms has made 17 catches for 315 yards and three touchdowns. Due to injuries, Baylor’s starting secondary has changed every week. The young cornerbacks are learning how to play in the Big 12 the hard way.
Edge: West Virginia
Sophomore kicker Connor Martin has been one of Baylor’s bright spots as he’s made 11 of 13 field goals and has averaged 44.5 yards on eight punts in the last two games after Drew Galitz suffered a season-ending knee injury. The Bears brought in walk-on Jay Sedwick off campus to handle kickoffs. The Mountaineers have an explosive kick returner in Marcus Simms who is averaging 28.4 yards per return. However, West Virginia’s kicking game has been average as Mike Molina has hit four of seven field goals and Billy Kinney has averaged 39.1 yards per punt.
After hanging tight in losses to Oklahoma and Kansas State, the Bears played by far their worst game in the blowout in Stillwater. The Bears haven’t played at McLane Stadium in nearly a month, and should be motivated to play their best on homecoming. West Virginia rallied for a 46-35 win over Texas Tech last weekend in Morgantown. But the Mountaineers haven’t played well in either of their previous two trips to Waco, coming out on the wrong end of 73-42 and 62-38 shootouts. This should be a great opportunity for Baylor to notch its first win of the Matt Rhule era.
— John Werner