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Sunday Lookahead: West Virginia University

Baylor v West Virginia Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

The week after a bye week, the Bears will travel to West Virginia on a Thursday night to face off against the West Virginia Mountaineers. A late October night game in Morgantown could be brisk, and Baylor will need to be at its best to defeat one of the dark horse favorites to win the Big 12.

The story of West Virginia on both sides of the ball is strong talent, but lack of depth. West Virginia returns star quarterback Will Grier, who fueled the team to a near top 10 offense before getting injured last year. Most of the offensive line from last season is still in place, as well as the wide receivers. The biggest loss was running back Justin Crawford, who rushed for 1000 yards in two consecutive seasons before being picked up by the Atlanta Falcons. Without that stable rushing threat, it will remain to be seen if the offense can remain as consistent as it was last year. But with all those other pieces still in place, they should be fine.

For the Mountaineers, there’s good news and bad news on defense. The bad news is they have to replace large portions of their defensive line. The good news is they have high profile transfers in Kenny Bigelow from USC and Jabril Robinson from Clemson. West Virginia has to replace star linebacker Al-Rasheed Benton, but they do return two other strong linebackers in David Long Jr. and Dylan Tonkery. The secondary might be the most stable and deep position for West Virginia, with Dravon Askiew-Henry, Kenny Robinson, Toyous Avery, Hakeem Bailey, and Jovanni Stewart all returning. The Mountaineers will need to fill in one corner spot, but they have plenty of good recruits to do just that.

West Virginia’s season might very well be decided by if they can get lucky with the injury bug or not. If they can, and their players are able to play maybe a little more than would be preferable, they could have a great year. Baylor plays West Virginia in the late middle of the season, where depth issues usually become apparent. Even if the Mountaineers’ players can hold up, the Bears have chances to exploit a West Virginia team that under performed last year and is only projected to go 6-6 this year by S&P+.