Baylor is no joke.
The Mountaineers witnessed first-hand just how good the Bears are this season on Saturday night, falling 73-42 in Waco. Despite the loss, Shaq Rowell had nothing but good things to say about the Bears afterwards.
"They're a great team," said Rowell. "They flat out beat us, and we have a lot of work to do."
The Bears got on the board just 40 seconds into the game on a 61- yard pass play to Antwan Goodley from quarterback Bryce Petty, making it 7-0 Baylor.
Clint Trickett would lead the West Virginia offense out on the field for their first possession of the game, but after four plays the Mountaineers were forced to punt. The Mountaineers caught an early break on the punt by Nick O'Toole, as Baylor receiver Levi Norwood fumbled the punt into the end zone, allowing Karl Joseph to recover and get the Mountaineers on the board.
Just when the Mountaineers started to gain momentum, Baylor went back to work on offense. Bryce Petty would cap off a 12 play, 75 yard scoring drive to put the Bears back on top, 14-7.
Mountaineer kick returner Wendell Smallwood would give the offense good field position on the next position, returning the kick to the 41-yard line. After two runs for no gain by Charles Sims and Dreamius Smith, Coach Holgorsen decided to insert Paul Millard into the game. Holgorsen said the decision to put in Millard was a communication issue between himself and Trickett.
"I put Paul in the game because I was having an issue communicating with Clint," said Holgorsen.
On third down, Millard hooked up with Sims on a screen pass for eight yards, making it fourth and short. A questionable call to go for it would backfire on the Mountaineers, giving the Baylor offense a short field.
The Bears' offense needed just one play on the next possession, as quarterback Bryce Petty hooked up with receiver Tevin Reese on a 47-yard pass play, making it 21-7 Baylor with 6:34 remaining in the first quarter.
On the ensuing possession, the Mountaineers were held in check again by the Baylor defense. After a 37-yard pass to Kevin White from Clint Trickett, West Virginia would run just four plays before having to punt.
The Bears' high powered offense would need just one play again for six points. Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk, an Oregon transfer, would take the ball 80 yards for the score, putting the Bears up three scores, 28-7.
The Mountaineers would get another chance at putting point on the board, but were forced to punt after a quick six plays. A horrific first quarter would become even worse on the following Baylor possession. The Bears would take the ball all the way down to the Mountaineers' two yard line, as the final seconds of the first quarter ticked off the clock. Baylor would punch it in seconds into the second quarter, and open the gap to 35-7.
An interception by Daryl Worley was the only blemish of the first half for the Bears, and West Virginia was unable to capitalize on the mistake. Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty and his teammates would not let up on the gas, as they would hang another three touchdowns on the Mountaineer defense before the half. Clint Trickett would get the Mountaineer offense a touchdown in the process, a 39- yard pass play to Kevin White, making it 56-14 at the half.
In total, the Baylor offense gained 617 yards on 27 first downs in the first half against the Mountaineer defense. The tempo wore down the West Virginia defense, and Coach Holgorsen says that the Bears being fresh was a key difference.
"You could tell a difference," said Holgorsen. "They had fresh legs and came out with a lot of energy."
The Mountaineers came out of the locker room with a huge deficit, but showed great effort on their first possession. The West Virginia offense needed just four plays to get points, as Charles Sims carried the ball 39 yards for the second offensive touchdown of the game, and cutting the Baylor lead to 56-21. The Bears would respond with a score of their own on the very next possession, pushing the lead back to a six touchdowns, 63-21. Baylor pulled their starters at this point for the rest of the game. A chip shot field goal by Baylor ended the scoring in the third quarter, making the score 66-21.
The Mountaineers continued to fight in the fourth quarter. Millard replaced a beat up Trickett, but the offense seemed to gain rhythm. Ronald Carswell caught a 43-yard pass from Millard to make it 66-28 with 10:48 remaining. With 8:07 to go, Kevin White found the end zone for the Mountaineers, cutting the lead to three touchdowns, 66-35. A worn down West Virginia defense would give up another score to the Baylor second string offense with 5:41 left in the ball game, putting the score at 73-35.
Travis Bell would intercept a Seth Russell pass, and pass the ball off to his teammate Darwin Cook. Cook would take the ball 32 yards for the score. The score would be the last of the game, and the Mountaineers lose a tough game on the road to Baylor, 73-42.
Baylor would finish the night with 864 yards of total offense, while the Mountaineers managed to gain 394, in a night where Baylor dominated. According to Shaq Rowell, Baylor is the top team in the Big 12.
"Nobody is gonna be those guys," said Rowell after the game. "They're gonna win the Big 12."
Coach Holgorsen also tipped his cap to Baylor afterwards.
"You have to give Baylor credit," said Holgorsen. "I've never seen a team establish the line of scrimmage like they did."
Going forward, the Mountaineer quarterback situation is wide open once again. Trickett was 9 of 28 for the game, and Millard was 8 for 13. Third down efficiency was a mess, as the Mountaineers went 3 of 15. Holgorsen was clearly upset after the game, and said the job could come down to whoever is playing better at the moment.
"I'm obviously not doing something right," said Holgorsen. "There were times on the first couple of possessions where I gave Clint specific words, and he didn't execute. Paul did some good things while he was in there. Going forward, we're going to go with the guy who has the hot hand."
It was a tough night to be a Mountaineer, as the Bears won in blowout fashion. A loss is never fun, but the head coach remained optimistic afterwards.
"You obviously never like to lose," said Holgorsen. "But at the end of the day, it's one loss. We'll give the guys a few days off, and get back to work next week."
The Mountaineers head into a much needed bye week before meeting up with Texas Tech on Oct. 19 at Milan Puskar Stadium.