No. 23 West Virginia has reason to be wary of winless Baylor
WACO, Texas (AP) — Dana Holgorsen is very aware of Baylor’s winless record. The Bears have gone more than a year since winning a regular-season game.
West Virginia’s coach also remembers what happened the only previous two times his team played at Baylor. There were also some close ones at home.
“We’ve got kind of a little bit of a past with these guys, and a lot of the same guys that are still lining up that whipped our tails down in Waco two years ago,” Holgorsen said. “We had a pretty good team last year, and that thing went down to the very last snap, too.”
The 23rd-ranked Mountaineers (4-2, 2-1 Big 12) play Saturday night in Waco, where they lost 62-38 two years ago and 73-41 in 2013.
Baylor (0-6, 0-3) has lost 12 straight regular-season games — six in a row last year, the last 24-21 at the 14th-ranked Mountaineers, before a win over Boise State in the Cactus Bowl. The Bears have lost their first six games under new coach Matt Rhule.
There was also that 70-63 home win by the Mountaineers in 2012 the first time they played Baylor. But there are now plenty of unknowns with the new coaching staff, and a different offensive approach.
“It’s the first time in six years that this is a little more challenging of a week with Baylor based on my experiences with what I have known Baylor to be and what they currently are,” Holgorsen said. “From a coaching perspective, program perspective, it’s a little different situation. ... There’s just nothing in the past that I can pull from, which is odd in the Big 12.”
On the other hand, Rhule is much more familiar with the Mountaineers through his longtime Northeast ties. He was born in New York, played at Penn State and spent 10 of the past 11 seasons at Temple, returning there the last four years as head coach after one season away as an assistant with the NFL’s New York Giants. Plus, both of his wife’s parents went to West Virginia.
The Bears, who have started nine true freshmen this season, had been close in every game until the 59-16 loss at No. 10 Oklahoma State last Saturday.
“The game got away from us, and if there’s something we have to correct, it’s avoiding that feeling of ‘oh here we go again’ when one bad play leads to three bad plays,” Rhule said. “As we continue to work on their psyche and continue to work on the way they look at the game, that can’t happen. We can never get used to losing.”
Some other things to know about the prime-time game:
FEELS LIKE THE FIRST TIME
West Virginia junior WR David Sills V leads the nation with 12 touchdown catches . His first game for the Mountaineers came two years ago at Baylor, and he had a 35-yard TD in that game. “We took the redshirt off of David and we said you’re going to be a receiver,” Holgorsen recalled this week about the former quarterback. “And he went out there and caught some passes.”
The Bears are home for the first time since Sept. 23, when they overcame an early 14-0 deficit and led in the second half against then-No. 3 Oklahoma before falling 49-41. ... After Waco, the Mountaineers play three of their next four games at home.
West Virginia is 24-24 in Big 12 games since joining the league in 2012, getting even again after beating then-No. 24 Texas Tech last week. Baylor is 29-19 in conference games over that span, though the Bears have lost their last nine.
FROM STUDENT SECTION TO FIELD
Jay Sedwick was in Baylor’s student section the first three home games. For homecoming, the true freshman will be kicking off for the Bears like he did at Oklahoma State after a tryout last week. Baylor needed another kicker after punter/kicker Drew Galitz suffered a torn ACL. Sedwick got touchbacks on two of his five kicks. He also tackled a returner at midfield. “It’s Chapter 4 in my book: ‘From the Dorm to the Field’,” Rhule said.
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