This one is somewhat simple. West Virginia has not been able to consistently pass the ball and Baylor has been pretty good at stopping the pass. Receiver T.J. Simmons has been the best pass-catcher for the Mountaineers in recent weeks, including at Oklahoma when the redshirt junior grabbed two touchdowns. BU ranked fourth in the Big 12 in pass defense, allowing 221.1 yards per game. Senior linebacker Clay Johnston is among the league leaders in tackles and passes defended.
BAYLOR PASS OFFENSE VS WVU PASS DEFENSE
West Virginia has been thin on secondary depth all season, and it showed when injuries hit a few weeks back and true freshmen had to see significant playing time. Senior cornerback Keith Washington is expected back from a lower body injury this week for WVU, and he’ll be needed. Baylor junior quarterback Charlie Brewer has been very good this season, as expected. Brewer has completed 130 of 196 pass attempts for 1.866 yards with 12 touchdowns and just three interceptions.
WVU RUN OFFENSE VS BAYLOR RUN DEFENSE
The Mountaineers have a run offense? Well, kind of. WVU averages 88.14 rushing yards per game — ranking 125th out of 130 FBS teams. Sophomore Leddie Brown got the bulk of the carries for West Virginia at Oklahoma — 16 of them — but didn’t do much with the opportunity as he finished with 28 yards. Baylor is No. 3 in the Big 12 in run defense, allowing 137.4 yards per game. Defensive tackle James Lynch has lived in backfields and leads the league with 8.5 sacks.
BAYLOR RUN OFFENSE VS WVU RUN DEFENSE
WVU is near the bottom of the Big 12 in defending the run so far in 2019, allowing an average of 226 yards per game. Injuries have started to hit the West Virginia front seven, and the Mountaineers have not been getting as many “Wow!” plays from its defensive lineman Dante Stills and the rest of the defense. Baylor splits its carries and lets the quarterback run too. Senior JaMycal Hasty ran for 146 yards and two touchdowns last time out to lead BU at Oklahoma State.
If nothing else, West Virginia has not been afraid to get creative in this area. WVU did get a first down at Oklahoma on a fake punt pass by punter Josh Growden, but it also allowed OU to block a punt and recover it for a touchdown. You win some, you lose some. Baylor, meanwhile, has been solid kicking and punting the ball this season. The Bears also have a pretty good punt returner in junior Grayland Arnold, who has had few opportunities since a punt return touchdown against USTA early this season.
First-year West Virginia coach Neal Brown was going to have a tough go of it this season before injuries and attrition put a serious strain on the Mountaineers’ depth chart, but it is encouraging to see him try new things to get WVU or let a young player learn on the fly — sometimes on the road in conference games. Baylor coach Matt Rhule has worked one of the great turnaround jobs in college football history since arriving at BU, and a Thursday night spotlight should have the home crowd rocking.