Baylor vs. West Virginia prediction and game preview. Projecting who wins the game between the Bears and Mountaineers.
Baylor vs. West Virginia Game Preview
When: Saturday, December 3 – 3:30 p.m. ET
Where: Milan Puskar Stadium, Morgantown, WV
Midway through the season, this matchup was being circled as a possible de facto Big 12 championship game. Both schools were undefeated and rising in the polls, so it all made sense. But the bottom fell out in Waco, exacerbated by a season-ending injury to Seth Russell, and West Virginia proved no match for either Oklahoma or Oklahoma State. Baylor enters the final weekend of the regular season on a five-game losing streak, understanding that a coaching change is looming once the season ends. The Mountaineers have far more at stake on Saturday. They can win 10 games for the first time as a Big 12 member, while improving their postseason destination.
What To Know About Baylor
The Bears have a win over Oklahoma State, which will play for a Big 12 title this weekend. Otherwise, it’s been a lost season in Waco, no surprise considering the off-field scandal that rocked the university and led to Art Briles’ ouster in May. On the field, Baylor has faded of late, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. While true freshman quarterback Zach Smith is getting comfortable as Russell’s successor, his passing hasn’t been nearly enough to offset a D that’s allowed an average of 48 points per game during the five-game losing streak.
What to Know About West Virginia
The Mountaineers weren’t good enough to beat the league’s two best teams. Still, they deserve a ton of credit for rebounding from the Week 12 Oklahoma loss to hammer a surging Iowa State team in Ames last week. West Virginia showcased its depth—and desire—on Saturday, which bodes well for this weekend and the bowl game. The ‘eers have been built on sound defense and an unrelenting ground game. Against the Cyclones, they were forced to lean on fourth-string back Martell Pettaway, yet the true freshman from Detroit still rushed for 181 yards and a score on 30 carries in his college debut.
Offense: West Virginia. Baylor still houses weapons, like receivers KD Cannon and Ishmael Zamora, but the Mountaineers are more balanced and physical at the line of scrimmage.
Defense: West Virginia. Coordinator Tony Gibson has done a very good job of rebuilding in Morgantown, while Baylor’s D has come apart at the seams.
Special Teams: Baylor. While both teams have performed poorly here, West Virginia has dealt with bigger issues, particularly with short kickoffs that hand opponents good starting field position.
Coaching: West Virginia. Dana Holgorsen has had a solid sixth season in Morgantown, his best since debuting in 2011.
Intangibles: West Virginia. The Mountaineers are playing at home with a chance to win for the tenth time. The Baylor players, meanwhile, have little desire to make this trip or play this game.
Matchup To Watch
Smith vs. CB Rasul Douglas and the West Virginia secondary
Smith enjoyed a lot of clean looks last week against Texas Tech, completing 30-of-46 for 377 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. But the Mountaineers will present an entirely different challenge. Douglas is the senior leader of a feisty defensive backfield that leads the Big 12 in pass efficiency defense.
Baylor vs. West Virginia Betting Odds
Spread: West Virginia -16.5
Over/Under: No line as of post
Baylor vs. West Virginia Prediction
West Virginia showed last week that it hasn’t quit on the regular season simply because a Big 12 title is no longer attainable. In stark contrast, Baylor is running on fumes as the year winds down. Regardless of who’s this week’s workhorse, the Mountaineers will relentlessly hammer the softening Bear defense with a steady procession of runs behind interior linemen Tyler Orlosky and Kyle Bosch. In an attempt to rally his team, Smith will make costly mistakes in the face of the West Virginia secondary and a chilly December wind at Milan Puskar.
Baylor at West Virginia Score Prediction: West Virginia 42, Baylor 21