Baylor football is fresh off a shortened bye week following its 36-25 loss to Oklahoma State on Oct. 1 at McLane Stadium in Waco. The Bears (3-2, 1-1 Big 12) now look ahead to a road contest versus West Virginia, slated for Thursday at 6 p.m. on FS1.
It’ll be the sixth time Baylor has traveled to Morgantown, W.Va., where the Mountaineers (2-3, 0-2 Big 12) have won the previous five matchups from the comfort of Milan Puskar Stadium.
Here are things Baylor fans need to know about West Virginia:
It’s really hard to win in Morgantown
It was touched on before, but this cannot be stressed enough. West Virginia just makes it super hard to win when it plays at home. This is especially true for Baylor, as its 0-5 record in Morgantown speaks for itself.
On a positive note, though, the Bears are due for a win when it travels to WVU. Maybe this is the year the group can get it done, although it came really close with a 27-21 double-overtime loss in 2020. Also, thanks to a pair of real-deal road tests in Provo, Utah and Ames, Iowa, to say Baylor is prepared is an understatement.
The Bears will be prepared for the environment, but getting that Morgantown monkey off its back will take a lot more than imagined.
JT Daniels can spin that football
Coming out of high school, WVU’s JT Daniels was a highly-touted recruit. According to 247 Sports, he was a five-star recruit in the 2018 class. Daniels’ talent has never been in question, it was just a matter of finding where he belongs.
The 6′3 slinger transferred to Georgia before he became a Mountaineer, and the rest is history. Daniels, a redshirt junior, now has many years under his belt and leading the WVU offense in 2022.
“He’s a patient quarterback, so he’s able to see the offense and get the ball to his key players,” sixth-year senior outside linebacker Bryson Jackson said. “He’s really good at that and sitting in the pocket and making great decisions.”
On the year, Daniels is 115-181 (63.5%) through the air with 1209 yards, eight touchdowns and two picks. Head coach Dave Aranda spoke highly of Daniels to reporters on Saturday, similar to how Jackson spoke of the QB.
“Really strong arm,” Aranda said. “There’s a command that when you watch it on tape it really jumps off the screen. There’s a poise that he has. He can throw deep down field or across the field and be on the money with it. I think his arm strength is elite.”
Aranda added that “the offense has grown around him” and that “there’s elements of tempo there” with Daniels under center. The third year head coach said the Mountaineers’ offense is lethal “with him at the helm, and they will always be a threat to put up a lot of points.”
Jackson and the defense are amped up for the challenge Daniels brings.
“Pretty excited to go up against him and get ready for that battle,” Jackson said. “I feel like he’s an intelligent player and just as far as his passing, and we’re going to get after him.”
WVU has nothing to lose
It’s frustrating to be one of the Big 12 schools that’s stuck looking up at other programs in the standings. Unfortunately, for WVU, this is a dilemma for it. Now, the Mountaineers do hold a small advantage over Oklahoma and Iowa State, but that’s only thanks to the bye week preventing another potential loss.
Teams like this are always sneaky-good and a thorn in your side if you underestimate it. Baylor has absolutely no right to waltz into this contest in an over-confident manner, due to its terrible track record in Morgantown. If the Bears want to succeed on Thursday, they need to prepare like they did against Iowa State and replicate similar success, while preventing “big eyed” looks from the BYU game.
Outside of Daniels, no clear standout
When looking at the offense, the only eye-opening name is the guy under center. WVU has some very talented athletes, don’t get it twisted, but nothing about those guys scream to be major threats or anything like that.
Overall, it can just be attributed to a balanced attack, and kudos to the Mountaineers program for doing that and executing it at a moderately successful clip. Although not a stellar start to the year, West Virginia will be a tough out for the Bears. The green and gold needs to limit Daniels’ ability to spread the rock around.
Dante Stills wreaks havoc
WVU’s nose tackle, Dante Stills, is an absolute unit. Stills can make his presence known in a hurry, much like Baylor’s defensive tackle, Siaki “Apu” Ika. We’re talking about guys that have potential to be making plays on Sundays in the near-future.
Regarding Stills, one of the Bears’ best offensive lineman made sure to give him credit on Sunday during a media availability.
“He’s a great player,” sixth-year senior center Jacob Gall said. “He’s certainly one of the best in the league, probably one of the best in the country.”
Dante Stills needs one more TFL to match the #WVU career record held by Grant Wiley.
— Nick Farrell (@ByNickFarrell) September 17, 2022
Stills has three tackles for loss to pair with two-and-a-half sacks. He’s also forced a fumble on the year, too. Basically, like Gall said: Still is an elite athlete. One thing to keep an eye on is the battle in the trenches, as Stills will go toe-to-toe with one of the most experienced O-lines in the country.