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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 02 Texas Tech at West Virginia

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First Look: West Virginia Mountaineers

I’m only a day or two late on this considering it’s a Thursday night game.

Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

MATCHUP: #23 Baylor Bears (3-2, 1-1) vs. West Virginia Mountaineers (2-3, 0-2)
LOCATION: Morgantown, West Virginia
ODB GAME HUB: Baylor Bears vs. West Virginia Mountaineers 2022
OPPONENT’S SB NATION BLOG: The Smoking Musket
ODB QUICK HITTER: WVU.
GAMEONPAPER PREVIEW: Baylor vs. WVU.
COLLEGEFOOTBALLDATA.COM TEAM PAGES: Baylor | West Virginia
WEEKLY PRESS CONFERENCE: WVU.
GAME NOTES (INCLUDING DEPTH CHART): WVU.
BAYLORBEARS.COM PREVIEW: WVU.
SPREAD: Baylor -3.5 (opened at Baylor -3 on Sunday), O/U 54.5
TV COVERAGE: THURSDAY NIGHT, 6 PM on FS1, 2:30 PM CT

WEATHER (IN MORGANTOWN):

This one could be a little weird on Thursday. Because we are just over 55 hours out from this one, we should have pretty good forecasts. Earlier in the week, it looked like there would be rain all day ending just before the game. That has now shifted earlier, so the rain ends around 2 but then starts up again for a brief period in the afternoon. From Wunderground.com’s daily forecasts:

Should be pretty good?

HOW DID WE GET HERE?

Baylor 2022 Schedule

G Date Time Day School Opponent Conf Pts Opp W L Streak
G Date Time Day School Opponent Conf Pts Opp W L Streak
1 3-Sep-22 7:00 PM Sat (10) Baylor Albany Non-Major 69 10 1 0 W 1
2 10-Sep-22 10:15 PM Sat (9) Baylor (21) BYU Ind 20 26 1 1 L 1
3 17-Sep-22 12:00 PM Sat (17) Baylor Texas State Sun Belt 42 7 2 1 W 1
4 24-Sep-22 12:00 PM Sat (17) Baylor Iowa State Big 12 31 24 3 1 W 2
5 1-Oct-22 3:30 PM Sat (16) Baylor (9) Oklahoma State Big 12 25 36 3 2 L 1

I never did a Thoughts post after Oklahoma State and have only rewatched the game once. Typically, we’d be on rewatch 4 or 5 by this point.

Reasonable minds differ, but I continue to believe that Baylor lost this game on five plays:

  1. The Safety. By Win Probability Added, this was the second-worst offensive play of the game for Baylor (after a 3rd Quarter pass on first down, which I don’t really understand), and it made the score 9-3 in the second quarter. This play call was, in my opinion, inexcusable then and now.
  2. The Failed Fourth Down Conversion. This occurred on the next Baylor offensive drive with Baylor having the ball at Oklahoma State’s 7 yard line trailing 9-3. Baylor failed to convert the fourth down because Reese made the wrong cut/read on the run, and Baylor turned the ball over on downs. This was Baylor’s third-worst offensive play by EPA.
  3. The Kick Return. Just a disaster to let that happen right after the half. It made the score 23-3. Was the first of several long kick returns for OSU.
  4. The First Interception. Baylor trailed 33-25 and had the ball with about 8:45 to go in the game. Gavin Holmes let the ball slip through his hands, and OSU intercepted it. This pass was not Blake Shapen’s fault in any respect, but it was a huge play.

Peter suggested that the early drop by Holmes on the first offensive drive should make the list, and I have no qualms with that. That drop possibly took 4 points off the board (because we kicked a FG), and a TD probably creates a lot more momentum there.

If any two of these plays go differently, Baylor may have won the game. And the key is these are all (with the possible exception of the kick return) unforced errors, mistakes that may be fixable with more time and experience. We certainly did not get blown out, and we actually favored by post-game win expectancy. Below is the total EPA chart from the game.

But because we made so many mistakes, we are now 3-2 on the season and 1-1 in conference play.

West Virginia 2022 Schedule

G Date Time Day School Opponent Conf Pts Opp W L Streak
G Date Time Day School Opponent Conf Pts Opp W L Streak
1 1-Sep-22 7:00 PM Thu West Virginia (17) Pitt ACC 31 38 0 1 L 1
2 10-Sep-22 6:00 PM Sat West Virginia Kansas Big 12 42 55 0 2 L 2
3 17-Sep-22 1:00 PM Sat West Virginia Towson Non-Major 65 7 1 2 W 1
4 22-Sep-22 7:30 PM Thu West Virginia Virginia Tech ACC 33 10 2 2 W 2
5 1-Oct-22 7:30 PM Sat West Virginia Texas Big 12 20 38 2 3 L 1

This has been a very up-and-down season for WVU so far to the point that many of their fans are clamoring for Neal Brown to lose his job. Their last game was against Texas, a 38-20 loss. Their first game was against Pitt, a 38-31 loss. They also lost to Kansas 55-42, and their only wins are against bad Towson and West Virginia teams. But at the same time, WVU is 47th in SP+, which isn’t bad. We can talk more about that later, when I hopefully do a separate post.

PLAYERS TO KNOW:

#18 QB JT Daniels—WVU’s starting QB after having bounced around from USC to Georgia and finally WVU. Daniels was a very highly touted recruit in the 2018 class as the #2 overall QB and the #16 overall player. He has 1209 passing yards, 8 TDs, and 2 INTs this season, all stats that are eerily similar to Blake Shapen’s (1118/9/3), but the primary difference is yards/attempt and completion percentage.

#0 WR Bryce Ford-Wheaton—WVU’s leading receiver with 412 receiving yards and 4 TDs. Listed at 6-3, 224, he’s a redshirt junior with significant experience in this offense. He will be a challenge for our corners.

#3 WR Kaden Prather—WVU’s third-leading receiver, but I’m including him because of Travis’s comments on Twitter this morning.

#55 DT Dante Sills—Yes, there is still a Stills in Morgantown. This season Dante leads WVU in sacks with 2.5 and is tied for second in tackles for loss with 3. For his career, he is just one shy of the program record for tackles for loss. He will be a challenge up front.

INJURY NEWS:

We don’t have a lot of it, but Aranda indicated earlier this week that RB Taye McWilliams is still a week or two away (meaning it must have been a serious concussion against BYU, which is now a month ago), DL Apu Ika should be available (apparently he was dinged up), and OL Khalil Keith was practicing in individuals this week (meaning he could come back this week but may not until he gets more reps).

This is all from Sunday afternoon, so keep that in mind.

On the West Virginia side, there is big news. Freshman RB CJ Donaldson, WVU’s leading rusher with 389 yards and 6 TDs, is expected to miss this game in the concussion protocol per reports last week and yesterday. This is a big loss for the Mountaineer offense and will put more pressure on JT Daniels.

ADVANCED STATS OVERVIEW:

I think I’m going to push this to another post this week and try to get that up later today, if possible.

WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING / OTHER NEWS:

(Has Baylor 30-24, for the record)

FIVE QUESTIONS (for you, the Baylor fan):

  1. Baylor is something like 9-0 under Aranda when we score a TD on our first drive of the game. I don’t have the exact stat. What do we need to do to start quickly against WVU?
  2. Who leads the Bears in receiving this week and how many yards do they have?
  3. What are you most looking to see from the team against West Virginia after last week’s loss to Oklahoma State?
  4. What are you most afraid of from this West Virginia team?
  5. Baylor is 0-5 in Morgantown in our history. Why do you think that is?

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