Fearless Picks: WVU - Baylor

Our panel attempts to bounce back as it looks at the WVU - Baylor game, but there are lots of different angles to take given the big performance swings exhibited by the Mountaineers so far this year.

PICKIN' AND GRINNIN'

With no one hitting the winner last week, scoring margins were critical in the standings this week. Greg, Jane and Matt all made standings gains with misses of 23 points, while Jon vaulted into the lead with a 26-point miss.


NOSE PICKING

Again, it's tough to single out anyone for missing last week's winner - the only people picking the Mountaineers to "win" were those taking the points.


Jon Martin Last Week: L Season: 4-1 Pt Diff: 117
One would think -- that this far into the season -- we would have this team figured out, right? Yet, that's not the case. The difference between West Virginia and Baylor could be summed up in one word -- identity. The Mountaineers are still trying to figure themselves out, while the Bears have done nothing but dominate their opponents this season. I think WVU keeps the game closer than most believe. The biggest concern is West Virginia's defense has been relied on to keep it in games. And that's a tall order against Baylor. So, can the Mountaineers score enough points to keep it close?
Pick: Baylor 35-27
 
Andy Easton Last Week: L Season: 4-1 Pt Diff: 118
In order to have a chance to pull their second upset is as many weeks, the Mountaineers will need to get off to a quick start, something that they have struggled to do this season.

The Bears have scored 28 first quarter points in each of their first three games and have averaged over 57 points in their eight-game winning streak dating back to last season.

WVU's improved play is encouraging and a bowl game isn't out of the question, but a win in Waco will be tough to produce.

Pick: Baylor 42-24
 
Chris Richardson Last Week: L Season: 4-1 Pt Diff: 127
Give credit where credit is due. Nobody expected the Mountaineers to put up a fight last week, let alone win the game, but Dana Holgorsen and his staff got the team ready to play, and WVU's players found ways to make plays and get the big win. Let's hope the improvement continues. Keep in mind improvement can continue to happen even without a win, and that's important this week. Baylor is the best offensive team not just in the Big XII, but the country. Art Briles has it going. The Bears can beat you through the air (444 yards per game, which leads the country) and on the ground (307 yards per game, good enough for fifth). Baylor's 751 total yards per game not only leads college football, but is more than 100 ypg ahead of second place UCLA (614 ypg). Granted, they haven't played much of a schedule to this point, and they haven't seen a defense as good as West Virginia's. Even still, I can't see the Mountaineers coming out of Waco with a win.
Pick: Baylor 41-27
 
Michael Carvelli Last Week: L Season: 4-1 Pt Diff: 132
Baylor will have more trouble scoring on the West Virginia defense than it has all season (which isn't saying much, but the Mountaineers will play very well again on defense). In the end the outcome of this game could depend on how well the WVU offense - led by Trickett or whoever is healthy at quarterback - can handle adversity and keep up with Baylor's high-flying offense. While I think the Mountaineers will play fairly well, the Bears might just be a little too good this season.
Pick: Baylor 38-20
 
Jane Donovan Last Week: L Season: 3-2 Pt Diff: 114
Well, that was unexpected, the big win over Oklahoma State last week. I enjoyed that game as much as I have enjoyed any game in several years. Great to see/feel/hear the crowd really into it -- you would have thought it was a Thursday night game against Virginia Tech. Maybe we now have the makings of a rivalry? Oh. You wanted a pick for the Baylor game. I have no idea what to do with this. Yes, Baylor is putting up video game numbers, but look at who they've played. Yes, WVU is still riding the quarterback carousel and looking for a kick returner and a go-to wide receiver, but this D is looking better and better each week and they will keep WVU in this game. So this week is a total guess on my part. My heart says Mountaineers, my head says
Pick: Baylor 31-24
 
Matt Keller Last Week: L Season: 3-2 Pt Diff: 135
To paraphrase George Berkeley, if a team plays nobody, but racks up gaudy stats...do they matter? In terms of NCAA rankings, yes - and the numbers are striking. Baylor tops the FBS in points per game (69.7) and passing yards (444.3) and is second in points against (7.7) and fifth in rushing yards (307), leaving them also atop the total yards per game list at more than 750.

That stat line might never before have been seen, and it isn't likely to hold. As publisher Greg Hunter points out, teams will top one yardage list or another, but not both. This is Baylor's toughest test - by far. But that doesn't mean the numbers have zero meaning. The Bears have an excellent back, two solid, big-play receivers and arguably the Big 12's best offensive line. West Virginia counters with a much-improved defense that is finding its fit, but might also have injury concerns at quarterback. Factor in location and time, and the line, at one point, was Baylor by 30. That isn't likely - but neither is a WVU upset on the road. The Bears simply have too many weapons.

Pick: Baylor 34-17
 
Tony Dobies Last Week: L Season: 3-2 Pt Diff: 139
The West Virginia defense proved a point against Oklahoma State - the Mountaineers are for real on that side of the ball. But, the other two sides of the ball for WVU aren't at the same level. Baylor isn't going to reach the 700-yard mark or put up 63 points again, but the Bears will score. The West Virginia offense probably won't be able to keep up. Don't be surprised if this is a close game at some point after the first quarter, though.
Pick: Baylor 38-20
 
Greg Hunter Last Week: L Season: 3-2 Pt Diff: 141
In a league like the Big 12, the ranked foes keep on coming. First Oklahoma, then Oklahoma State, now Baylor. The Mountaineers found a ton of confidence in the win over the Cowboys, but the Bears, at least offensively, are probably even better. Can West Virginia defense come up with a second straight incredible performance? That's asking a lot.
Pick: Baylor 31-27
 
Brian Jolliff Last Week: L Season: 3-2 Pt Diff: 149
I don't recall being as happy as I was Saturday afternoon about being so wrong in my prediction of the outcome of the OSU game. Credit to the WVU coaches, players and fans for a truly great day. I'm wondering how crow goes with buffalo hot sauce?

I'm not sure that we got any answers other than the one about whether this team has given up the season, but how does that win affect the upcoming game against an impressive looking Baylor offense? The Bears have put up some staggering numbers in both points and yards in all of their games this year, albeit against some less than stellar competition. The Mountaineers will make this a closer game than the pundits predict, but unfortunately the combination of questions at quarterback, inconsistent game to game performance and being in a hostile arena will earn this squad a likely L. But in case I am wrong, I'd like to submit a pre-order of crispy crow a l'Orange.

Pick: Baylor 42-30
 
Bill Gleason Last Week: L Season: 3-2 Pt Diff: 162
The top offense in the country isn't at Oregon. It's at Baylor.

WVU cannot continue to make the mind boggling mistakes, drop passes, whiff on blocks and just generally look poorly coached and hope the defense can pull it out again.

The Bears' offense is everything Dana was brought to WVU to develop. Until the offensive line can get a QB through a game healthy enough to practice, the Mountaineers can't compete with an offense like this. WVU might play tremendous D and give up 40. Can the O and ST return game do their part?

Pick: Baylor 53-38

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