On the last night of October, Baylor did enough to ensure they’d enter November without a loss. Baylor (8-0, 5-0) overcame a weird performance on Halloween to knock off West Virginia (3-5, 1-4) 17-14. The undefeated Bears will take on TCU on November 9th in Fort Worth.
Each team seemed like they wanted to foist a win on the other team. West Virginia had two turnovers. The Bears had three. The Bears threw a wide receiver interception. West Virginia had two of the worst snaps you’ll ever see at the power five level. The Bears allowed a kickoff return for a touchdown. The Mountaineers had just 64 yards and zero points in the first half. Denzel Mims fumbled after a 31 yard reception. West Virginia’s receivers couldn’t catch. Baylor’s offensive line couldn’t block.
Despite both teams having some awful moments, Baylor led 17-14 with 4:40 left and prepared to take the ball. But RJ Sneed fumbled a punt return (in his defense the officials didn’t call fair catch interference), and the Mountaineers had 1st and 10 from the Baylor 34. On 4th and 2, Neal Brown elected to send a kicker out for his first field goal attempt of the season. He drilled the 43 yard attempt, but the officials ruled the snap was just late and assessed a delay of game penalty. From 48 yards, Baylor’s defensive line threw their hands up and blocked the kick.
Tyquan Thornton made the play of the season on 3rd and 18. West Virginia had near perfect coverage as Charlie Brewer lofted the ball 43 yards, but sometimes near perfection leaves enough room for someone else to be perfect. And Thornton was, as he snagged the ball and gave Baylor a first down.
West Virginia notched a final stop, and following an Isaac Power punt, they took over at their own four with 45 seconds left and no timeouts. The Baylor defense—the best unit of this night—tackled a Mountaineer receiver in the field with six seconds left and won the game.
The Bears seemed destined to put away West Virginia in the first half. Baylor allowed just five first downs in the first half. The Mountaineers did not score in the first half. Jameson Houston even intercepted a pass. A passable offense would have put West Virginia away.
Baylor did not have a passable offense in the first half. RJ Sneed turned the ball over on a wide receiver pass. The Bears had the ball one yard away from going up 14-0 in the second quarter. Charlie Brewer attempted three quarterback sneaks. The Baylor offensive line—as they had most of the game—could not get a push. The Mountaineers held the Bears and trailed by just seven points at halftime.
In the second half, Baylor’s offensive line continued to struggle. While Charlie Brewer could have thrown a few passes away, he was sacked eight times. The Bears didn’t insert Xavier Newman until the fourth quarter, and Connor Galvin might be back soon. That duo is desperately needed for a position group that was dreadful tonight.
This was a weird personnel game. Chris Miller picked up his third targeting penalty of the season. He’s now suspended for the TCU game. Grayland Arnold, listed as doubtful, entered the game in the 3rd quarter and had a massive passive breakup. Trestan Ebner finally played in the 4th quarter and had some spectacular runs.
The Bears have a lot to fix. But on their worst night of the year, they picked up their eighth win. Baylor will face much better opponents in the next month. They’ll do that with their loftiest goals still ahead of them. And if they achieve those goals, they’ll look back on this game and be thrilled they had enough tonight to make that possible.