West Virginia and Baylor would still be scoring if time didn’t run out. In a game for the ages, the Mountaineers of West Virginia played a near flawless offensive game. They needed every single score of the game, to maintain the lead and hold Baylor at bay. The final tally ended up at 70-63, with West Virginia using the four minute offense to run out the clock. The displayed a combination of great offense with porous defense on both sides. The team with the ball constantly stayed on attack, and put immense pressure on the opposition. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, both teams did their part to contribute to the second highest scoring day in college football history.
The Quarterbacks and Receivers
Nick Florence did his best to keep pace with Geno Smith, but inopportune punts, and one turnover was the difference in the game. Florence led Baylor with 581 yards passing, 5 touchdowns, and 1 rushing score. Terrence Williams had 17 catches for 314 yards with an array of amazing plays. To no avail, the receiving records weren’t enough to upset the Mountaineers. Baylor also had Tevin Reese, and Lanear Sampson, over 100 yards receiving in the game.
Geno Smith threw for 656 yards on 45/51 passing and 8 touchdowns. Amazingly, Geno didn’t have a turnover in the game. That puts the Heisman frontrunner with 20 touchdowns to zero interceptions for the season. Tavon Austin’s 14 catches and 215 yards were overshadowed by Stedman Bailey’s 13 catches for 303 yards. J.D Woods also had 13 receptions for a mere 114 yards on this record setting day.
The first quarter started slow with a Nick Florence interception on the second play of the game. On the ensuing possession, West Virginia missed a field goal, and lost a chance to take an early lead. Soon after, the flood gates opened for both teams. When the first quarter was over both teams scored 14 points a piece, trading off one yard rushing touchdowns, then answering with seven yard scoring plays.
Baylor started the second quarter with another one yard run, keyed by a 45 yard punt return. Moments later, Geno Smith hit Stedman Bailey with a 47 yard touchdown pass to tie the score at 21. Two plays later, Florence connected with Reese for a 65 yards scoring play to go up 28-21. West Virginia answered with another score to Stedman Bailey to tie the game at 28. West Virginia’s defense finally stopped Baylor from scoring, and Geno Smith hit Bailey for another passing touchdown to give the Mountaineers their first lead of the game, 35-28. At this point Geno Smith was 26/28 passing, and was on an 11 consecutive completion streak. Just as it seemed, the game might get away from Baylor, Nick Florence darted towards the line of scrimmage, and released a bullet to Lanear Sampson for a 67 yard score as halftime approached to tie it at 35. This may have been the biggest play for Baylor, because momentum was riding with the Mountaineers.
The second half started just as the first ended, when Smith fed Tavon Austin for two straight scores. Then Andrew Buie scored his second one yard run of the game to give West Virginia a 56-35 lead. The two stops by West Virginia’s defense was the difference in the victory. However, Nick Florence and the Bears offense answered with another scoring drive. Then their defense stepped up and got a three and out. Florence answered with another one yard run to cut the lead to 56-49. Riding the momentum they thought they had gained, Baylor gave up a one play touchdown from Smith to Bailey again. After another Baylor scoring pass, Smith hit Bailey for his 5th touchdown catch of the game. Baylor answered with another score to Terrence Williams to make it a one possession game, 70-63.
Instead of going for an onside kick, Baylor elected to kick it deep. West Virginia showed their Four minute offense and clock killing ability. Highlighted by Woods’ one handed catch to move the chains, in the end, West Virginia never let Baylor get another chance.
Some may have questions on whether if this was great offense verse bad defense. There was bad defense, but the reasons for the bad defense should be blamed on the great offense. West Virginia and Baylor got defensive coordinators fired from Clemson and Washington last year, after putting up similar numbers in the bowl games. Geno Smith punishes teams by dropping in passes from the sky perfectly, where as other quarterbacks repeatedly miss open targets. One thing that needs to get better is the tackling, but West Virginia and Baylor have some of the best make you miss players in the open field.
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