Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

College Football: Week 8 Mountaineers Goal: Beat Top-4 Team for a Change

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

College Football: Week 8 Mountaineers Goal: Beat Top-4 Team for a Change

Article excerpt

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Earlier this week, West Virginia offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson likened the Mountaineers' previous two meetings with Baylor to tennis matches. The sides smashed volleys back and forth, held serve at home and racked up many points in lightning-quick fashion.

The No. 4 Bears (6-0, 3-0) visit Milan Puskar Stadium today for the rubber match in this budding Big 12 Conference rivalry. West Virginia (4-2, 2-1) held off Baylor, 70-63, in Morgantown two years ago, and the Bears returned the favor with a 73-42 pasting in Waco, Texas, a year ago.

The 2013 defeat "lingered the rest of the year," defensive coordinator Tony Gibson said. "We never got back on track defensively after that game."

Baylor is West Virginia's third top-four opponent this season. The Mountaineers came up short in close losses to then-No. 2 Alabama and then-No. 4 Oklahoma in the first month this season.

"Let's try winning one of these at some point," West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said.

West Virginia and Baylor rallied from respective 14- and 21- point fourth-quarter deficits last week to win on field goals as time expired. Kicker Josh Lambert's 55-yarder gave the Mountaineers a 37-34 road win against Texas Tech. Baylor's Chris Callahan hit a chip-shot field goal to give the Bears a dramatic, 61-58 win against TCU.

With another shootout today likely on tap, there's little chance such comebacks are in the cards. The West Virginia defense will be counted on to help the Mountaineers keep pace with a Baylor offense that is leading Division I-A with 52.7 points per game.

"They're fast and explosive," safety KJ Dillon said. "We have to stop the run, stop the pass and stop Bryce Petty. It's that simple."

If only that were a simple to-do list.

Petty, the Bears senior quarterback, is 16-2 since taking over as starter a year ago. He has thrown for 5,734 yards, 47 touchdowns and just seven interceptions in that span.

Holgorsen isn't asking for his defense to shut down the Baylor attack. Nobody has, he said, so the key is to make stops in critical situations -- on a third down late in the game, for example, or at the goal line to force a field-goal try. …

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