West Virginia-Baylor Preview
Baylor's offense is piling up points at a historic rate and is eager to continue its attack coming out of a bye week.
Points could be harder to come by, though, as the competition is about to get much tougher.
After easily overpowering three lesser opponents, the 17th-ranked Bears can claim their first 4-0 start since 1991 with a win Saturday night in their Big 12 opener against West Virginia.
The teams set a conference record for points while amassing 1,507 total yards in West Virginia's 70-63 home win last year, the Mountaineers' first Big 12 game.
The Bears appear even more explosive than the squad that recorded 34 first downs in last season's meeting. They're the first FBS team since LSU in 1930 to total at least 60 points in their first three games with victories of 69-3, 70-13 and 70-7, though those wins came over FCS Wofford, Buffalo and Louisiana-Monroe.
West Virginia (3-2, 1-1) should provide a bigger challenge as the Mountaineers are coming off last Saturday's 30-21 win over then-No. 11 Oklahoma State.
Baylor is riding a seven-game winning streak, tied for the FBS' fourth-longest. The Bears lead the nation with 751.3 yards and 69.7 points per game, and they've recorded three of the top-four single-game yardage totals in school history this year.
They have scored on 22 of 26 drives, a trend coach Art Briles hopes his team can continue after coming off its second bye in three weeks.
"The thing about these open dates early in the season is that you feel like you're just starting and stopping, and that's kind of the way we feel right now without question," Briles said. "But the good thing is that our guys are fresh, energized, and anxious, and when you're anxious to do something then you usually have a lot of anticipation and get out there and do it. So from that standpoint, we're certainly ready to go and we certainly have a lot of respect for West Virginia."
Briles' club boasts a balance attack with the nation's best passing offense (444.3 ypg) and fifth-best rushing attack (307.0 ypg). Quarterback Bryce Petty's 239.5 passer rating is the best in the nation by more than 30 points, while Lache Seastrunk leads the conference in rushing with 139.0 yards per game. Among running backs, he leads the nation with 11.0 yards per carry.
"Even though we did score 63 points last year, there were still points left out there," Petty said. "As a team a couple things just didn't go our way, but I thought we played really well being in that atmosphere. Opening up Big 12 at home against them, it needs to be a win for us for sure."
West Virginia held the Cowboys to more than 24 points below their season average in last week's victory while already starting its third different quarterback this year.
Clint Trickett was 24 of 50 for 309 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions after Ford Childress - who replaced Paul Millard earlier in the year - suffered a torn pectoral muscle in practice. Coach Dana Holgorsen was noncommittal regarding this week's starter.
"If they're both 100 percent right now we would probably go with Clint, because he did a pretty good job keeping the plays alive and had some savvy to him," Holgorsen said. "If he's half-speed and Ford is 100 percent, it would make more sense to go with Ford. That being said, if they're both 50 percent, it would make more sense to go with Paul."
Whomever is under center will have to be wary of a Baylor defense that has scored three TDs while limiting opponents to an average of 7.7 points.