If you would have heard four stats only from the West Virginia offense in Morgantown, WV on Saturday, you would have been led to believe that West Virginia routed the visiting Bears: no turnovers; 8 touchdowns passing from Geno Smith; only two punts and 70 points.
As bad as those stats make the defense look, the Bears offense was nearly up to the test. It took 21 unanswered points by West Virginia in the 3rd quarter to put some distance between the Mountaineers and Bears and help secure a 70-63 victory for the home team in their Big12 opener.
Nick Florence was terrific in a losing effort. He broke Robert Griffin III's single season game Baylor passing record (479 yards last year against Oklahoma). Florence passed for 582 yards and 5 touchdowns in the losing effort. Terrance Williams set a Big12 receiving yards (and Baylor) record in one game with 17 receptions for 314 yards and 2 touchdowns. He broke Stedman Bailey's record of 303 yards. Bailey had 5 touchdowns on the day for West Virginia. Bailey got to hold that record for a few minutes before Williams broke it on Baylor's final drive of the game.
The efficiency by the offenses was remarkable. Baylor averaged 7.6 yards per play and racked up 38 first downs in a losing effort. They converted 11 of 16 third downs and were 1-1 on fourth down en route to 698 yards of total offense. Those are eye-popping stats until you see what Heisman frontrunner Geno Smith and the West Virginia offense did. They racked up 37 first downs; went 12-15 on 3rd down and had 9.2 yards per play. In the process, the Mountaineer offense gained 808 yards.
This is not a conference for defensive purists. It probably won't be the last game where both teams in a conference game score over 50 points each. And I would bet West Virginia and Baylor are involved in a few more of those. The only inefficient thing on offense in this game was the field goal kicking. Bitancurt for West Virginia missed a 50 yard field goal. Aaron Jones for Baylor was a little more baffling. On a perfect weather day, he hooked a 33-yard chip shot wide right. And then also missed a 46 yard field goal- also wide right. In a game, where every possession needed to end in a score- those two missed field goals and a tipped ball interception from Baylor early in the game, ended up being the deciding factors.
Baylor rivals who were hoping that Baylor was a "one man" team with RG3 last year are going to be in for some disappointments. The Baylor offense looks to be every bit as potent as last year's record setting version- at least in the passing game so far. Only four games into the season, Nick Florence has no amassed 1590 yards; 16 touchdowns and only 5 interceptions. Baylor drops to 3-1 on the year. West Virginia cements their top 10 record by going to 4-0. A big game for the Mountaineers looms at Texas next weekend. If Smith is able to put up big numbers against the Longhorns and lead West Virginia to victory in that game, he may separate from the pack of Heisman contenders by a wide margin.
Baylor suffered some injuries during the game. Starting cornerback Demetri Goodson went down with a broken arm- a tough blow for both him and Baylor. Goodson was injured most of 2011 as well. Nickel back Ahmad Dixon left the game with a concussion. Tight end Jerod Monk and running back Jarred Salubi were also banged up but Salubi returned to the game after injuring a shoulder earlier in the contest. Next up for Baylor after a bye week is TCU. This will be a critical game for helping cement Baylor's bowl hopes this year and also putting the Bears back in the hunt for a conference title.