Point-happy Baylor next WVU opponent
A frustrating first half of fumbles and turnovers was most instrumental in West Virginia dropping a 33-26 overtime verdict to unbeaten Oklahoma State last Saturday in a Big 12 Conference game that may have pushed the Mountaineers into an unwanted race for a lesser bowl game.
The Cowboys used two fumble recoveries as the props to get a 17-2 lead by halftime. West Virginia trailed, 23-9, into the second half before using quarterback Skyler Howard’s short run with less than three left in regulation to get it even at 26-26.
Oklahoma State abandoned the pass that had gotten it most of its offensive points during a rushing burst that got it a score in the overtime. Once reaching the Cowboy four in overtime, the Mountaineers failed to convert a fourth-and-goal pass from the 11 on their last play of the night.
Wendell Smallwood rushed for 147 yards on 19 carries and Shelton Gibson had five catches for 84 yards as West Virginia’s statistical leaders.
Terrell Chestnut, Nick Kwiatkoski and Daryl Worley had interceptions for the Mountaineers, who missed Karl Joseph to injury in their secondary.
With its overall record dimmed to 3-2 and its conference record at 0-2, the Mountaineers must travel to Waco, Texas to see unbeaten Baylor this week.
Highly ranked Baylor has scored at least 56 points in its five substantive wins. The schedule has been a mundane one, but even Texas Tech was drowned, 63-35, in the Bears’ weekly scoring deluges.
Baylor is averaging just over 64 points a game in wins over SMU, Lamar, Rice, Texas Tech and Kansas.
The annual games between the Mountaineers and Baylor have been free-scoring and full of offensive yardage. In one recent game, West Virginia had to score 70 points to secure a 70-63 win as the points flew in all directions.
Seth Russell is Baylor’s quarterback and he has already thrown 22 touchdown passes. He has amassed 1,527 passing yards in five games. Shock Linwood is Baylor’s ground king and he has over 700 rushing yards to date.
Coach Art Briles has a team ranked in the top five in the country, but he knows it will might take an unbeaten season to get him into the four-team national playoffs.
West Virginia will be the underdogs in remaining games against Baylor, Texas Christian, Texas Tech and Kansas State.
Looking ahead, the Mountaineers can’t lose to either Kansas or Iowa State and have much chance to earn the six wins needed for a bowl berth.
They’ll have to beat one of these three — Texas, Texas Tech or Kansas State — to get six wins provided they lose to Baylor, Texas Christian and either Texas Tech or Kansas State.
The Big 12 didn’t have a team in the 2014 national playoffs. It could get both Baylor and Texas Christian into that elite group this season.