BIG Picks: WVU - Baylor

West Virgina's lower point total against Maryland has some fans wondering about the readiness of the Mountaineers for the rigors of the Big 12. How do our panelists see WVU's first-ever league game?


Chris' miss of just 11 points vaulted him into the season lead, but five pursuers within nine points of his total, the race is going to be nothing but interesting as we head into the Big 12 season.


Jane missed last week's game by 35 points. Will that cause her to tone down her picks of big point production for the Air Raid offense?

Chris Richardson Last Week: W Season: 3-0 Pt Diff: 71
It's the dawn of a new day! For all intents and purposes, this is the start of West Virginia's (hopefully lengthy) tenure in the Big 12, and to make it even better, it'll open at home.

Ironically I've had the chance to watch Baylor three times already this year, which is three more times than I've watched the Mountaineers. The Bears' offense is explosive, but their defense has more leaks than an old Pinto.

WVU ushers in its Big 12 existence in style. Baylor will score some points, but not enough to outscore this offense.

Pick: West Virginia 42-35
Bill Gleason Last Week: W Season: 3-0 Pt Diff: 74
From the Be Careful What You Wish For File: WVU comes screaming into its first Big 12 fracas andOliver Luck has instructed the WVU Maintenance office to install a third digit on both sides of the South Endzone scoreboard. Baylor, expected by many to slide into national irrelevance after the departure of Robert Griffin III, comes to Morgantown having scored 40 or more points in seven consecutive games and 30 or more points in nine straight and 14 of their last 16. Evidently Baylor didn't get the memo.

{sarcasm mode=on}Meanwhile the Mountaineers limp into the game after a pedestrian effort against Maryland that provided "only" 31 points of offense, over 300 yards passing by Geno Smith, a school single-game record for pass receptions by Tavon Austin and three turnovers forced by the defense. If only the Mountaineers would have played well. {sarcasm mode=off}

While I actually don't believe that WVU played all that well against Maryland, I also believe that in previous times that effort would have resulted in a loss, which speaks more for the quality of this team and its coaches than many might admit. Everyone has off days. Despite the fact that we wonder how a player who only gets to play 12 games a year could not be fired up, ready to chew nails, spit fire and run through brick walls each and every week, sometimes you just don't have it. It is on those days when your quality, and your character are revealed. If it was easy, everyone would do it.

I truly believe WVU to be the better team in this game. I don't see Baylor coming into Morgantown on Homecoming in front of a national audience in WVU's first ever Big 12 game and knocking off the Mountaineers. But if you think the Bears are going to just roll over and take a beating, you're sorely mistaken.

In my mind it comes down not to how well WVU defends the pass, but how well WVU stops the run, gets pressure on Florence and forces turnovers. Win the turnover battle, win the game. But don't look at the scoreboard, see WVU break 30, and expect the game to be over. WVU's defense could play lights out, and still give up 40. This is just a different brand of football. In the late 1980s Weber State University called it Basketball on Grass.

The flip side is that Baylor has allowed at least 23 points in 14 straight games. In that span the Bears have allowed over 50 three times and over 40 twice more. In that same span, WVU has allowed 23 points or more eight times, only twice over 40. It is here where I think WVU is the better team. Though I think WVU could end up scoring 60 again, and possibly giving up that many as well, I just can't pick that sort of score, though this one is mind boggling enough.

Pick: West Virginia 47-38
Patrick Southern Last Week: W Season: 3-0 Pt Diff: 75
After a year's worth of anticipation, West Virginia's Big 12 debut has finally arrived. While that alone would lead to plenty of intrigue, the fact that the game comes against a nationally-ranked Baylor team that has an impressive offense of its own only adds to the anticipation.

The offenses will rightly garner much of the pregame attention, but this game will be decided by a big play or two on defense and special teams. Converting as many possessions as possible into points will be vital -- a missed field goal will feel like a punch in the gut. Given each offense's strength, the importance of every turnover will be magnified. That's where the difference in this game lies: Nick Florence has already thrown four interceptions, while Geno Smith has zero. Advantage: Mountaineers.

Pick: West Virginia 52-42
Andy Easton Last Week: W Season: 3-0 Pt Diff: 77
The Bears have adjusted quite nicely to life without their Heisman Trophy winner from last year, RGIII. The Baylor offense averages over 50 points a game, scoring 47 on a solid Louisiana-Monroe team, but its defense has struggled at times, much like WVU.

Co-defensive coordinator Joe DeForest had success at Oklahoma State defending the Baylor offense, so maybe that gives WVU a slight edge in what seems to be a evenly matched contest. The Mountaineers will need to score early and often to cage these Bears.

Pick: West Virginia 45-35
Tony Dobies Last Week: W Season: 3-0 Pt Diff: 79
West Virginia and Baylor are going to play a game at Milan Puskar Stadium, and it's going to be unlike anything we've seen under head coach Dana Holgorsen. For the first time, WVU fans are going to see two of the top offenses in the nation come together in a shoot-out. It's a great way to start the Big 12 season.

WVU has a bit more firepower, especially if running back Shawne Alston is back. The Baylor secondary is weak, and that could be the difference. Look for both offenses to have no trouble scoring, but the Mountaineers will have an easier time at home.

West Virginia's defense will find a way to pick off a pass or force a fumble that changes the complexion of this game. That will be overshadowed by another stunning performance from Geno Smith and crew, however.

Pick: West Virginia 49-38
Greg Hunter Last Week: W Season: 3-0 Pt Diff: 80
Neither club has really been tested this year. That figures to change Saturday at Mountaineer Field in WVU's first-ever conference game as a member of the Big 12. West Virginia has to manage the emotions that will come with the historic occasion, but the West Virginia offense figures to be a tough matchup for BU, which has struggled to defend the pass.
Pick: West Virginia 42-39
Brian Jolliff Last Week: W Season: 3-0 Pt Diff: 85
Finally our first Big 12 game is here, after many months of waiting and apprehension. I approach this game with some reservations, in that there are a lot of puzzling questions surrounding the Mountaineers -- primarily with the defense. I think we all knew that switching up the defensive coaching staff and changing schemes would take some adjustments and getting used to. But what is most troubling is the missed tackles and difficulty in getting the defense off the field on third down.

This game looks to be a test of whose offense will outscore the other, unless we see some major defensive improvements from the first three games. Call me optimistic but guarded, as we have a pretty talented offense coming into Morgantown this weekend.

Pick: West Virginia 48-35
Matt Keller Last Week: W Season: 3-0 Pt Diff: 85
This is exactly the test West Virginia needs heading into Big 12 play. It isn't Kansas, but it isn't Texas or Kansas State, either. This is a match-up that appears winnable on both sides of the ball, and the Mountaineers, frankly, should have a better offense than Baylor. If the secondary can get pressure and defend the deep ball, and doesn't rack up a dozen missed tackles, WVU can win this game by double digits.

Enjoy this one. It'll be fun, the crowd should be into it, and it's the beginning of a new era for West Virginia University, and WVU athletics. The state Flagship U. couldn't be in a better position for the future, both athletically and academically. Welcome, Big 12, to Morgantown.

Pick: West Virginia 37-27
Jane Donovan Last Week: W Season: 3-0 Pt Diff: 108
Now it begins: for the first time in history, WVU will be on the inside looking out, rather than on the outside looking in. It's a new day, a moment of extraordinary opportunity and hope. We are finally, as John Denver would say, in the place we belong: among college football's elite, in a conference that everyone takes seriously, among peer institutions who match our culture, mission, and aspirations. When Baylor takes the field on Saturday, I won't be the only loyal Mountaineer in the stands with misty eyes. I have, WVU has, we all have waited a long time for such a moment as this.

And now we have to live up to it. We have a coach who intimately understands the Big XII, a quarterback with a legitimate shot at the Heisman Trophy, two of the best receivers in the game, and the weight of more than a century of tradition and far too many shattered dreams. Carpe diem, Mountaineers. Seize the day.

Pick: West Virginia 35-31

BlueGoldNews Top Stories