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West Virginia Holds Off Baylor 70-63 in Big 12 Shootout

MORGANTOWN, WV - SEPTEMBER 29:  Geno Smith #12 of the West Virginia Mountaineers runs the ball against the Baylor Bears during the game on September 29, 2012 at Mountaineer Field in Morgantown, West Virginia.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
Tyler ConwayFeatured ColumnistSeptember 29, 2012

Behind high-powered aerial attacks and anemic defensive performances on both sides, the West Virginia Mountaineers and Baylor Bears put on an absolute thriller on Saturday.

The Mountaineers prevailed 70-63, as the Bears could not quite keep up with quarterback Geno Smith's career-best day. The senior star completed an astounding 45 of 51 passes for 656 yards and eight touchdowns. Though playing against a flailing defense, Smith's performance left an indelible mark that had some, including ESPN's Twitter feed, calling for a Heisman Trophy.

Geno Smith for Heisman?

— ESPN (@espn) September 29, 2012

Smith's unbelievable performance also made stars out of receivers Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin, who became the first pair of wideouts to go over the 200-yard mark since Texas Tech's Michael Crabtree and Danny Amendola in 2007 (via ESPN Stats & Information).

Bailey's 303 yards receiving broke an all-time school mark previously held by all-time great Mountaineers receiver Chris Henry.

Nevertheless, the Baylor offense was not to be outdone. Baylor marched up and down the field with equal amounts of ease and matched nearly every Mountaineers score with one of its own.

While most will focus on Smith, Bears quarterback Nick Florence finished with a career-best performance of his own, throwing for 581 yards and five touchdowns, while connecting with Terrance Williams a shocking 17 times for 314 yards. 

In fact, secondary play was so porous for both sides that it garnered hilarious responses from the Twittersphere, including this one from Every Day Should be Saturday's Run Home Jack

What are secondary meetings like at Baylor? "Ok guys, we gotta work on HEY LOOK AKITTYCAT!"

— sir broosk (@celebrityhottub) September 29, 2012

For both sides, this contest should serve as both an encouraging sign and a sobering wake-up call. From the opening whistle, both offenses scored with such ease that it would be an insult to video games to call them video-game-like.

While those deficiencies certainly led a scintillating contest on Saturday, that trend cannot continue if either team expects to be taken seriously going forward, particularly the Mountaineers.

West Virginia came into Week 5 the ninth-ranked team in the country, and this victory cannot make head coach Dana Holgorsen happy. With the team undoubtedly ripe with BCS bowl goals, it will need to fix its defense going forward to have any shot against the top-notch Texas defense next Saturday.

It was a great game in the interim, but what it means for the future could be infinitely more troubling.

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