Two of the nation's most explosiveness passing attacks will face off as Baylor visits West Virginia for a Top 25 clash. Both teams remain undefeated after narrow victories in Week 4 and are looking to validate their high ranking with a marquee win.
The Bears haven't scored less than 47 points in any of their three games. It will be interesting to see if they are able to remain as efficient as the level of competition increases markedly.
They must continue to utilize their terrific speed on the outside.
West Virginia was expected to reach the 3-0 mark. Now fans will begin to see what the team is truly made of as it begins a stretch of five games against ranked teams out of the next seven.
It will take an extraordinary effort to emerge unbeaten.
Let's take a glance at all the vital information for one of the week's most anticipated games along with a game breakdown and prediction.
Where: Mountaineer Field in Morgantown, W. Va.
When: Saturday, Sept. 29 at 12 p.m. ET
Listen: KRZI 1660 AM (Baylor) or WAJR 1440 AM (West Virginia)
Live Streaming Audio: Mountaineers All-Access
Betting Line: West Virginia -12.5 (Vegas Insider)
Injury Report (via USA Today)
Baylor: Jay Lee (doubtful, knee) and Jake Jackson (doubtful, knee)
West Virginia: No injuries listed
Key Storyline: Will West Virginia pass its first big test?
West Virginia has won all three games by at least 10 points against teams that simply didn't have the talent level necessary to pull off an upset. That won't be the case when the Mountaineers step on the field with Baylor on Saturday.
The Mountaineers are still the favorite, and rightfully so. If they play a poor game, however, the Bears have more than enough firepower to pick up a huge road victory. They are entering a tough portion of their schedule as well, and they want to start it on a high note.
West Virginia has had three weeks to work out the kinks, so there should be no excuses if the Bears don't take care of business at home. They should be ready.
Top 25 Implications
Since the Mountaineers are in the top 10 of both major polls, the situation is clear. They have to win and hope a few teams in front of them fall so they can make a nice jump, perhaps into the top five.
A loss would cause their ranking to plummet.
Baylor stands to gain a little more with a win. As it stands, the Bears are just inside the rankings, but a win should push them in the top 15 at the very least. A loss would ensure their latest stay in the Top 25 is a short one, though.
What They Are Saying
Baylor quarterback Nick Florence had thrown two interceptions in each of the past two games, but Bears head coach Art Briles still has confidence in him, based on a report from the Associated Press.
That is something that he never does, Briles said about Florence's interceptions. But we aren't going to panic and stop throwing the ball. Nick is good. He does see the field good, so he responded.
West Virginia begins Big 12 play on Saturday, a new challenge for the Mountaineers, and head coach Dana Holgorsen knows his team must improve, according to Dave Hickman of the Gazette-Mail.
The first time I've mentioned the Big 12 to them was a few minutes ago, Holgorsen said following Saturday's less-than-artistic win over the Terps. But now the non-conference portion of the schedule is over and the rest of it's going to be conference play. And our play needs to pick up.
Baylor Player To Watch: Nick Florence
Florence had huge shoes to fill coming into the season. For the past couple seasons, Robert Griffin III has been leading the Baylor offense. You might have heard of him. So the standard for being the Bears quarterback has been raised.
So far, Florence has done a solid job. He's completed 65 percent of his passes for over 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns through three games. The aforementioned interceptions have been concerning, but aren't enough to overshadow the positive progress he's made.
In order to pull off an upset, Florence will need to lead the charge. It all comes down to his decision-making skills, especially on third down and in the red zone.
West Virginia Player To Watch: Tavon Austin
West Virginia has no shortage of playmakers on offense, but Austin has stood out from the crowd in the early going. The senior wide receiver has 34 catches for 345 yards and five touchdowns to lead the team in each category.
The combination of Austin and Stedman Bailey creates a nightmare matchup for opposing defenses because both of them are capable of breaking a big play or working underneath to move the chains.
What they lack in size, they make up for in toughness.
The Mountaineers aren't going to change their game plan as Big 12 play begins. They are still going to throw it early and often, putting pressure on Austin to make game-changing plays.
Key Matchup: Baylor secondary vs. Geno Smith
Baylor's defense is allowing nearly 30 points per game despite facing mediocre opponents, which doesn't bode well for Saturday's game. If Louisiana-Monroe can throw for almost 300 yards against the Bears, West Virginia should have a field day.
The Mountaineers' attack is led by Smith, the team's senior quarterback. He's hitting on 81 percent of his passes and has a tremendous touchdown-to-interception ratio of 12-0. He has really matured as a QB over the past three seasons.
This game has shootout written all over it. In those situations, it's always smart to lean toward the better quarterback, and in this case that's Smith.
Mountaineers win a thriller.
West Virginia 38, Baylor 34
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