There’s an interesting subplot with Baylor quarterback Charlie Brewer going against West Virginia on Thursday. As a freshman in 2017, Brewer came off the bench and nearly led a comeback against the Mountaineers before falling just short 38-36. Last year, in a 58-14 loss, he had his worst game ever, going 1-of-8 with three interceptions.
While No. 12 Baylor may not be getting playoff consideration, although they are undefeated, but Matt Rhule is going to be getting votes when it comes time for Coach of the Year balloting. Baylor became the team to beat in the Big 12 when both Oklahoma and Texas were upset last weekend, while the Bears enjoyed the week off.
Baylor (7-0, 4-0) defeated Oklahoma State 45-27 in a game in which it was a six-point underdog. Brewer was just about perfect against the Cowboys with more than 300 yards through the air and a score on a 13-for-17 afternoon. The Bears exploded for 21 points in the final 10 minutes to put away the victory.
West Virginia is also coming off a bye and has been beaten pretty easily the last three times out. They were defeated by Oklahoma, which was just upset by Kansas State, 52-14. West Virginia (3-4, 1-3) has lost three in a row to Iowa State, Texas and Oklahoma by a combined 73 points.
They gave up 562 yards of total offense to the Sooners. Mountaineers quarterback Austin Kendall, who was at Oklahoma for three seasons, completed 15 of 31 passes for 182 yards for two touchdowns.
Baylor is listed as a 17.5-point favorite. The over/under is set at 56.5.
Mountaineers Looking For Offense
It has been a struggle for the Mountaineers, and October has been particularly tough. It’s not easy getting Texas, Iowa State and Oklahoma in consecutive games when you’re trying to build a foundation. No Big 12 team has had it harder lately, and it doesn’t get any easier on Thursday night.
To Brown’s credit, he’s doing everything he can short of pulling a rabbit out of his hat to get this team competitive for a half. They just don’t have the depth to keep it going for the final 30 minutes.
Kendall has thrown for 1,429 yards on 141 of 222 passing with 11 touchdowns and seven interceptions. T.J. Simmons has been his top target with 31 catches for 409 yards and four touchdowns.
Kennedy McCoy leads the Mountaineers ground game with 188 yards on 66 carries with three touchdowns. West Virginia averages a dismal 88 yards a game on the ground.
The defense has been very generous, giving up over 33 points a game on the year. They allow over 407 yards of total offense.
Baylor Playing Itself Into Playoff Contention
The Bears have a short trip to Fort Worth to meet TCU after this game, then host Oklahoma and Texas in consecutive weeks. If they can roll into the Oklahoma game undefeated and pull out a win against the Sooners, they will at least find themselves in the conversation. The problem is their lack of a real strong victory, even when playing in the Big 12. The Sooners will most likely be the only ranked team on their schedule unless they make the conference championship game.
Brewer has been outstanding as a game manager for Baylor. He doesn’t have the flashy stats but takes care of the football with only three interceptions on the year. He has thrown for 1,866 yards on 130 of 196 passing with 12 touchdowns. Denzel Mims has been the top receiver with 33 receptions for 519 yards and five touchdowns.
John Lovett leads an impressive Bears run game that averages over 200 yards a game on the ground. He has rushed for 446 yards on only 65 carries with four touchdowns.
Baylor’s defense has limited opponents to 19 points per game despite allowing 358.6 yards per game. They have 25 sacks on the year to go with six interceptions but have yet to recover a fumble. If they want to continue the undefeated run, this team will have to find a way to create more turnovers.
I just think this line is an overreaction to the Baylor result from last week. The score was much closer than the 45-27 score would indicate. A lot of late scoring created the blowout. I think the Mountaineers keep it close for at least the first three quarters before Baylor takes the win, 34-21.
Pick: West Virginia +17.5