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Not this time.
Down 14 with around seven minutes to play, Baylor appeared to have West Virginia right where it wanted, but this time, unlike last week against TCU, there was a little bit of defense. But this game wasn’t about the D; it was about the best quarterback in the game, and in the Big 12 this year.
Bryce Petty might have engineered the miraculous comeback over the Horned Frogs, but he was held to a 16-of-36 day for 233 yards and two touchdowns, his second stinker in three weeks. Meanwhile, Clint Trickett came up with his seventh 300-yard game in seven tries this season, throwing for 322 yards and two touchdowns as he deserves to be in the Heisman hunt after yet another stellar performance.
It’s not like Trickett is putting up big numbers against the weak and the sad, hitting Alabama for 365 yards, Maryland for 511 and Oklahoma for 376. The veteran is showing his leadership and his calm, cool play under fire in the big games, and now it’s time to dream about big things in a bounceback year under Dana Holgorsen.
West Virginia might not be a complete team, and it’s going to get stuck in several shootouts, but it showed staying power and Big 12 championship potential with the win, and with the toughest remaining games – TCU and Kansas State – at home, while Baylor showed proved once again that it can put up massive stats on the dregs of the world, and can explode once in a while, but the consistency just isn’t there.
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Thank you, Mountaineers.
Someone needed to beat Baylor before the fraud that was its playoff contention got completely out of control. I have no ill will toward the Bears. None. Enjoy the offense. Respect the coach. But I’m very particular about which teams participate in the most important games of the postseason. That honor belongs to complete football squads. As everyone learned over the last two weeks, Baylor is more of a college football novelty than college football nobility.
Dana Holgorsen will coach the rest of this season with the confidence that, barring a complete collapse, his job is no longer in jeopardy. And the entire program ought to benefit from the improved stability. Holgorsen has done well to turn things around in Morgantown, with plenty of support from QB Clint Trickett, WR Kevin White and an aggressive defense. Hey, if the ‘eers can build on this afternoon’s signature win, there’s no reason why this team can’t compete for a title in a Big 12 that’s a jump ball involving a half-dozen teams.
Go out and set records, post gaudy numbers and blow up scoreboards, Baylor. We’ll enjoy the fireworks. But stay out of our playoff discussion. Even in an era of spread offenses and basketball-like scores, you don’t belong among the game’s elite if you can’t play D on a more consistent basis.
By Phil Harrison
And another team falls from the unbeaten.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll continue to say it. At some point, in a game where things just aren’t working on offense, all of these teams that are throwing up video game numbers are going to need their defense to rise to the occasion. This was that game for Baylor, and it’s defense was not up to the task.
But West Virginia’s defense came to play. This game was thought to be a shootout of epic proportions — much like previous meetings between the two — but instead West Virginia was able to disrupt the number one scoring offense in FBS behind an energized crowd and aggressive game-plan.
On offense, West Virginia quarterback Clint Trickett threw for over three hundred yards again, and the Mountaineers were able to overcome three turnovers to win more convincingly than almost anyone outside of Morgantown predicted.
The loss doesn’t take Baylor completely out of the mix for big things this year, but it puts a serious damper on things. It’s enough to make the entire team and fanbase “defensive.”
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