Game of the Week: Week 5

Mountaineer WR Tavon Austin is one of the top players in the country and an emerging dark horse in the Heisman race.

Quarterback Geno Smith leads the nation’s third-ranked passing attack into West Virginia’s Big 12 conference debut against the Baylor Bears. The 2012 Discover Orange Bowl M.O.P. has been nothing short of phenomenal during the 2012 football season, showing his six-touchdown performance in last year’s Classic was no fluke. The impressive repertoire Smith has established with all-star receivers Tavon Austin (345 yards, five touchdowns) and Stedman Bailey (332 yards, five touchdowns) has the Mountaineers’ quarterback putting up gaudy numbers on the gridiron (1,072 yards, 13 total touchdowns,), which have vaulted him to the forefront of the Heisman Trophy race.  With an 81.4 completion percentage on 118 attempts, the senior has executed Dana Holgorsen’s "Airraid" offense to near perfection, and has shown no signs of slowing down.

Lose a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback- have a down year, right? Following Robert Griffin III’s NFL departure, many expected Baylor to slip back to the bottom of the Big 12 ranks. That would be news to quarterback Nick Florence, who has the Bears making plenty of noise of their own. Three games into the 2012 season, the senior has put up over 1,000 yards and thrown 11 touchdowns with just four interceptions, good enough for a 166.9 passer rating that ranks 14th in the nation. With the big Terrance Williams (353 yards, four touchdowns) and speedster Tevin Reese (304 yards, 20.3 yards per catch, three touchdowns) lining up on wings, Baylor might be one of the few teams in the nation with enough offensive firepower on offense to match up the Mountaineers.

While all signs point to this potentially becoming one of the highest scoring games this season, history might suggest otherwise. Last year, the RG3-led Baylor Bears marched into a Big 12 matchup against Oklahoma State and one of the top offenses in the nation. Expected to be a shootout, the Cowboys held Baylor scoreless in the first half as they racked up 55 points in a one-sided affair.

Holgorsen is no doubt hoping that West Virginia can find some similar success against Baylor’s high-octane offense. The linebacker tandem of senior Josh Francis and redshirt freshman Isaish Bruce have been menacing quarterbacks all season, racking up 44 tackles and 9.5 for loss together this season.  After an unexpected test against Stephon Diggs (touchdowns of 42 and 54 yards) and Maryland last week, the Mountaineers are going to need their defensive corps to shut down Baylor if they hope to come away with their first conference win as members of the  Big 12.


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