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
OURDAILYPODCAST: Put Up or Shut Up Time (WVU Preview)
OTHER PODCASTS: Please Bear With Me | Bear Den | Locked on Baylor | Between Two Bears (LISTENER DISCRETION ADVISED) | SicEm365
OPPONENT’S SB NATION BLOG: The Smoking Musket
ODB QUICK HITTER: WVU.
ODB FIRST LOOK: WVU.
GAMEONPAPER PREVIEW: Baylor vs. WVU.
SPREAD: Baylor -3.5 (opened at Baylor -3 on Sunday), O/U 55
TV COVERAGE: TONIGHT, 6 PM on FS1
VIRTUAL WATCH PARTY:
Is back on tonight! See below (it’s the same link as before):
ADVANCED STATS MINI-PREVIEW:
Well, it only took two days for me to actually get around to doing what I wanted to do on Tuesday (which is actually what I wanted to do on Monday, but whatever). Let’s dive right in.
Baylor vs. WVU F+
So as you well know by now, F+ is the combination of FEI & SP+ that attempts to create a more unified look from drive-based and play-based data. The story here is pretty simple: Baylor is ~20 in both metrics, solid but not great, while West Virginia is further back in the middle of the FBS pack, between 45 and 60 (and there’s really not much of a difference between those numbers, if any real difference at all).
Baylor’s offense trails its defense, as I’m sure you imagined, but not by all that much. That’s a bit surprising given where we thought we’d be coming into this season, but the offense has actually improved in the rankings the last few weeks as other defenses we’ve played have proven better than expected and we’ve played relatively well if not consistently so. The defense, on the other hand, has dropped—at one point it was in the low teens but is now in the low 20s. That can actually make a difference when you’re talking about jumping into a higher tier of teams, overall.
WVU’s situation is very different. Their offense, led by JT Daniels, is 38th in F+ while their defense is 74th. The defensive part tracks with information from GameonPaper (shown below), which relies heavily on EPA and Success Rate (both of which factor into SP+ but do so alongside a ton of other things), but GoP seems to say this is shortchanging the WVU offense a bit (probably due to opponent adjustments). Let’s hope that’s not true.
I think tonight is going to be a good test for our offense, on the road against a defense that appears not to be fantastic but, according the line stats, shouldn’t get completely blown off the ball. I expect Baylor will try to do just that, first and foremost because it’s in our offensive DNA, regardless, but also because this is a road game where they’ll want to make things as easy as possible for Shapen. If we take the opposite approach, it will likely be due to the fact that WVU’s pass defense is #101 in EPA/play, #87 in Success Rate, and #97 in EPA/game.
Defensively (for Baylor), WVU has been a surprisingly strong running team considering they have such a talented QB in JT Daniels, but a lot of that has probably been due to having CJ Donaldson, who will not play tonight by all reports. That could tilt things back in favor of throwing the ball more, where our defense is ... not fantastic (#67 in EPA/play and EPA/game and #69 in Success Rate).
ODB STAFF PREDICTIONS:
We did not have a good time against OSU (we were all wrong), but we’re moving past it. Here are this week’s predictions:
- Matt Wilson (@mattisbear): Baylor 42, WVU 24.
- Peter Pope (@pbpope): Baylor 34, WVU 27.
- David Fankhauser (@dfank_bu): Baylor 38, WVU 31.
- Evan Hebert (@evanhebert): Baylor 42, WVU 17.
- Joe Goodman (@the_joe_goodman): Baylor 35, WVU 24.
- Cody Orr (@cody_orr): Baylor 31, WVU 21.
- Branden MacKinnon (@Branden_MacK): Baylor 24, WVU 31.
- Jenna Patteson (@jenp108): Baylor 28, WVU 13.
- Noelle Kakimoto (@NKakimoto): Baylor 28, WVU 14.
- Will Boles (@_willboles): Baylor 28, WVU 10.
- Scott Byrne (@BearNTex): Baylor 38, WVU 21.
- Fielding Montgomery (@FieldinOfDreams): Baylor 31, WVU 23.
- Deonte Epps (@DEppsRightStepS): Baylor 24, WVU 20.
- Max Garner (@MAXgBU21): Baylor 31, WVU 21.
Branden jumped on the “we all can’t pick Baylor” grenade, which I am going to rigidly enforce from now on after the OK State debacle in our last go-round, so I don’t feel too much pressure to go down that route. I will say that considering this is a Thursday night game on the road between two offenses that are clearly capable of putting up points, I think we’re going to see some points scored in this one. It wouldn’t be the first time in Morgantown (though I’d be well beyond stunned if we saw something like that again).
But will Baylor be on the better end of those points for the first time in six tries at Milan Puskar? I think so. Every indication we have is that Baylor is better offensively and defensively than WVU, and even though the Bears have yet to put together a complete game against a solid opponent—ironically, in a lot of ways the second half against OSU was the best we’ve looked this season—I think we’ll do enough to win this game. The key for me is whether we shoot ourselves in the foot the same way we did against BYU and OSU with unforced errors (penalties against BYU, playcalling and special teams against OSU). Monaray Baldwin could build on a huge second half against OSU with another big day today.
My Prediction: Baylor 37, WVU 31.
Predict the outcome of today’s Baylor-WVU game in Morgantown.
This poll is closed
Baylor, huge (21+)
Baylor, big (14-20)
Baylor, medium (7-13)
Baylor, close (1-6)
Also, since we are so close to game time, let’s just use this for discussion for all purposes through the game.