Around the Region Thursday Night Special: Previewing the Baylor Bears’ huge Big 12 matchup at the West Virginia Mountaineers

Mandatory Credit: Photo by George Frey/AP/Shutterstock (13383884o) Baylor quarterback Blake Shapen (12) passes then ball in the second half, during an NCAA college football game, in Provo, Utah Baylor BYU Football, Provo, United States – 10 Sep 2022

Around the Region Thursday Night Special: Previewing the Baylor Bears’ huge Big 12 matchup at the West Virginia Mountaineers

Baylor Bears (3-2, 1-1 Big 12) at West Virginia Mountaineers (2-3, 0-2 Big 12)

Time/TV: 6:00pm CT/FS1

Both Baylor and West Virginia enter Thursday night’s Big 12 matchup coming off bye weeks, and both teams are plenty hungry following losses in conference play the week before last. The Baylor Bears dug themselves an early hole at home against Oklahoma State two weeks ago, trailing 23-3 before outscoring the Cowboys 22-13 over the game’s final 28 minutes. Baylor lost the game despite outgaining Oklahoma State 457-379, largely due to turnovers and special teams mishaps. Nine of the Cowboys’ points came on a safety and a kick return touchdown, and two interceptions in the fourth quarter thwarted an otherwise promising comeback bid by the Bears. If Baylor wants to fulfill their Big 12 aspirations, a big part of doing so will be cleaning up these types of mistakes going forward. 

The biggest positive for Baylor in the loss was that their offense continues to move the ball effectively, something teams have done with relative ease against West Virginia this season. The Mountaineers’ defense has allowed 93 points through their first two Big 12 contests, largely thanks to a secondary that is getting gashed for a league-worst 8.3 yards per pass attempt and has only one interception all year. Blake Shapen will look to get in sync with big-play threat Monaray Baldwin all night, a combination that has averaged more than 21 yards per play when they’re able to connect for a completion. On the defensive side of the football, Baylor will need to limit West Virginia’s big play wideout in Bryce Ford-Wheaton, who has already picked up 93 or more receiving yards three times through the Mountaineers’ first five games. 

History is working against the Bears, who are 0-5 all-time against West Virginia in Morgantown. The home team has won the last five games in the series, with Baylor blowing out the Mountaineers last season 45-20 in Waco. Despite a somewhat rocky start to the season, Baylor’s goals in the Big 12 are still there for the taking. Four of the five teams ahead of them in the Big 12 standings remain on their schedule, including home dates with TCU, Kansas, and Kansas State. For those games to be as meaningful as they’d like, they’ll first need to take care of business in Morgantown against the desperate Mountaineers.

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