West Virginia Mountaineers Set to Make Big 12 Debut Versus Baylor Bears

Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

A new era for the West Virginia Mountaineers is set to kick off. West Virginia will make its debut in the Big 12 Conference on Saturday at home against the Baylor Bears. West Virginia is set to host Baylor on Homecoming in the first matchup between the two college football programs.

Following its bolt from the Big East Conference and an impressive 3-0 start versus non-conference foes, there’s no looking back for the Mountaineers. West Virginia’s last nine regular-season games will pit the Mountaineers against newfound Big 12 Conference rivals. West Virginia already owns victories over the Marshall Thundering Herd, James Madison Dukes and Maryland Terrapins. On average, West Virginia outscored its first three opponents 47-22.

Heisman frontrunner Geno Smith is leading the Mountaineers. Smith has passed for over 1,000 yards in three games. Yet to throw an interception, Smith has completed 96-of-118 passes for 1,072 yards and 12 touchdowns. Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey have emerged as Smith’s go-to receivers. Each receiver has over 300 yards and five touchdowns apiece.

Minus Robert Griffin III, Baylor has managed its own 3-0 start. The Bears boast wins over SMU, Sam Houston State and upset-minded Louisiana-Monroe. After back-to-back wins at home, Baylor held on to beat Louisiana-Monroe 47-42 last week. Baylor will enter Saturday’s game with the nation’s second-longest active winning streak among FBS schools. The Bears have won nine straight games, a mark that is second to only TCU’s 11-game winning streak.

Baylor also has its own high-profile quarterback. In his first season as a starter, Baylor senior Nick Florence leads the nation in total offense, averaging 387.7 yards per game. Like Smith, Florence has passed for over 1,000 yards in three games.

Baylor is ranked first in the Big 12 and sixth nationally in turnover margin with a +2.0-per game differential. The Bears have forced at least two turnovers in eight straight games.

Saturday’s Big 12 tilt could shape up as a battle of signal-callers. Smith and Florence rank 1-2 in the Big 12 Conference in passing yards per game.

West Virginia’s remaining regular-season slate will have the Mountaineers facing the Texas Longhorns, Texas Tech Red Raiders, Kansas State Wildcats, TCU Horned Frogs, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Oklahoma Sooners, Iowa State Cyclones and Kansas Jayhawks.

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