No. 2 Baylor hosts WVU, team that kept Bears out of playoff
WACO, Texas (AP) — Baylor coach Art Briles quickly tried to dispel any idea that the second-ranked Bears have revenge on their mind.
At least concerning West Virginia, the only team to beat them in the regular season a year ago.
“If there’s any revenge, it needs to be on us,” Briles said. “Are we going to blame them for beating us? The way we look at it is that it’s our fault, my fault. We didn’t take care of business.”
And they wound up the first team left out of the initial College Football Playoff because of it.
Just like last October, Baylor (5-0, 2-0 Big 12) is undefeated going into its game against the Mountaineers.
The Bears, now with their highest AP ranking ever, were coming off their epic 61-58 comeback victory over TCU last season when they went to West Virginia and lost 41-27.
WVU (3-2, 0-2), which lost in overtime at home last week to 15th-ranked Oklahoma State, doesn’t believe Baylor has forgotten that four-hour game in Morgantown last season.
“Definitely. Anytime you lose to a team, you’re looking forward to beating them the following year,” junior cornerback Daryl Worley said. “We look at it as though every team that we play against is trying to beat us. ... They’re all out to get blood.”
West Virginia has an FBS-best 13 interceptions and has been one of the Big 12′s best defenses, allowing a league-low 20 points a game and 342 yards a game.
Baylor counters with the nation’s most productive offense, at 64 points and 725 yards a game. Seth Russell leads the nation with 22 touchdown passes, and Corey Coleman is the national leader with 13 TD catches.
“It’s important for us to defend our home turf. When anyone steps foot in Waco, it’s our job to run them out of here. They outdid us last year, so we have a little bit of an edge going into this game,” Coleman said. “We’re ready to get that bad taste out of our mouth.”
A few other things to know when the Bears look to stretch their FBS-best 18-game home winning streak, including all eight games since moving into their new campus stadium last year:
LEADING RUSHERS: Baylor junior Shock Linwood and West Virginia junior Wendell Smallwood rank 1-2 in the Big 12 in rushing yards per game. Linwood is running for 143.8 yards per game, including four consecutive 100-yard games. Smallwood has surpassed 100 yards his last three games and is averaging 114.8 yards per game.
BIG-TIME SCORING: The highest-scoring game in Big 12 history came in 2012 when West Virginia, in its first conference game after moving into the league, beat Baylor 70-63 at home. When the Mountaineers went to the Waco for the first time two years ago, Baylor scored on nine of its first 10 possessions and won 73-42.
WINNING PENALIZED: West Virginia pulled off the upset last season even while committing 14 penalties for 138 yards and having three turnovers — while the Bears didn’t turn over the ball. “I don’t know how to explain that one,” Mountaineers coach Dana Holgorsen said. Maybe some of it had to do with Baylor’s 18 penalties for 215 yards.
NEVER THIS HIGH BEFORE: Asked about the No. 2 national ranking, Briles said the Bears are proud that people have noticed what they are doing and respect them as a quality team. But he doesn’t feel any different. “I probably don’t look the same, but mentally I feel the same as I did in 2012 when we were unranked,” he said.
X-FACTOR: Bears junior cornerback Xavien Howard, a former high school quarterback, had his third interception of the season and returned a fumble 30 yards for a touchdown last week against Kansas.
AP College Football website: www.collegefootball.ap.org