#13 West Virginia Mountaineers (5-1, 3-1)
Baylor Bears (4-3, 2-2)
Kickoff: 7:00 pm est
Location: Morgantown, WV (Mountaineer Field)
Weather at Kickoff: 48º Partly Cloudy
Announcers: Justin Kutcher, DeMarco Murray and Petro Papadakis
|Points Per Game||33.1||36.8|
|Points Allowed Per Game||31.0||20.5|
|Pass Yards Allowed||218.0||218.5|
|Rush Yards Allowed||189.9||141.3|
The West Virginia Mountaineers host the Baylor Bears in a Thursday night Big 12 Conference Showdown. WVU leads the all-time series 4-2 and have won the last two meetings versus the Bears by a total of five points.
In last years meeting in Waco, West Virginia went into the fourth quarter leading 38-13 before Baylor came storming back, scoring 23 straight points behind freshman quarterback Charlie Brewer. The Bears scored a touchdown with 17 seconds left in the game and a chance to tie the game, but the Mountaineer defense stopped the two-point conversion and held on to win 38-36.
The Bears have been good in the red zone this season on both sides of the ball. They have only allowed eight touchdowns ranking them first in the Big 12 and eighth nationally. On the other side of the ball they’ve scored 18 touchdowns and seven field goals inside the red zone.
Baylor head coach Matt Rhule has the program heading in the right direction. The Bears went 1-11 in 2017. This season, the Bears are 4-3 and have already have two conference wins on the year.
The Bears nearly pulled off the upset over Texas in their last outing. Trailing by six, Charlie Brewer led his offense down to the 17-yard line before the Longhorns held on in the final minute of the game.
Charlie Brewer has excelled since taking over the starting job last season. In his 11 starts, Baylor is averaging 459.7 yards per game. Brewer is averaging 275.4 passing yards per game and has 19 touchdowns and six interceptions in that span. In the last four games, he has averaged 289.3 yards passing per game and has seven touchdowns and two interceptions, including 400 yards through the air against Oklahoma.
Brewer has two big targets on the outside. Tennessee transfer Jalen Hurd has found his stride within the offense. Running back turned into slot receiver has 25 receptions for 311 yards and a touchdown in the last three games. Denzel Mims is his go to receiver averaging 15.1 yards per reception. Chris Platt is Charlies big play receiver. He has five career 70 plus yard receptions.
Baylor hasn’t found much consistency in their running game. A lot of that has to do with the lack of depth along their offensive line. However, JaMycal Hasty, John Lovett and Trestan Ebner are all averaging over five yards a carry.
The Baylor defense has struggled to stop the run. They give up 194.3 yards on the ground per game in conference play. Middle linebacker Clay Johnston leads the team in tackles with 36 along with safety Chris Miller (35) and linebacker Terrel Bernard (32). Safety James Lynch has seven tackles for loss and four sacks on the season.
The Mountaineers offense hasn’t had that spark we have become accustomed to. The big plays have decreased and after the 152-yard Iowa State performance, questions have arisen whether they can play at a high level again. Leddie Brown has the only 40 plus yard play since the Texas Tech game. He had a 47-yard run against Kansas.
The offense that was moving the ball with ease and had become efficient has stalled. Up until the halftime of the Texas Tech game, WVU was averaging 144.1 total yards per quarter. Since the second half in Lubbock, they’re averaging 76.8 yards per quarter.
The West Virginia defense is second in points allowed (23.0) in conference play. They have given up over 400 yards of total offense twice (Texas Tech & Iowa State); however, those were the only times they relinquished over 320 yards. They are first in the Big 12 and fifth nationally in tackles for loss per game. (8.8).
The Mountaineers could find their rhythm on offense in this game. It needs to start with the running attack. They haven’t done particularly well in that department; nonetheless, they can lean on the run game against the worst rushing defense in the conference to ease the pressure in the passing game.
The defense had their worst performance in the first half of the Iowa State game but settled in the second half only giving up eight points. The issue was poor tackling and racking up 31 missed tackles in the game, will have this unit focused against a scrappy quarterback.
I’m not sure the offense can flip the switch back to where they were at the beginning of the season; however, the possibility of Leddie Brown and Tevin Bush returning this week might give them more stability this week and get them back on track.
This will be a tough game for the Mountaineers. Baylor is trending up while the Mountaineers have been trending down. I have the Mountaineers winning in a close one, 24-13.
2018 WVU OFFENSIVE STATS
|Kennedy McKoy||57||343||6.0||38 (TD)||2|
|Alec Sinkfield||6||28||4.7||9 (TD)||1|
|Marcus Simms||28||498||17.8||82 (TD)||2|
|Gary Jennings Jr.||30||402||13.4||33 (TD)||6|
|David Sills V||32||390||12.2||38||7|
|T.J. Simmons||14||227||16.2||59 (TD)||1|
|Tevin Bush||6||102||17.0||62 (TD)||1|
|Dominique Maiden||4||69||17.3||40 (TD)||1|
|Leddie Brown||1||15||15.0||15 (TD)||1|
|Martell Pettaway||4||12||3.0||12 (TD)||1|