WVU's Big 12 debut ends with 70-63 victory
West Virginia's Stedman Bailey hauls in a 47-yard touchdown pass in front of Baylor's K.J. Morton in the second quarter. It was the first of five touchdown passes he would catch to go with 303 yards receiving.
Tavon Austin had 14 receptions for 215 yards and two touchdowns including this one of 45 yards in the third quarter.
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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- If there was any question about how Geno Smith and his West Virginia offense would fare in the Big 12 Conference, consider Saturday the object lesson.
Smith threw for eight touchdowns and completed 45 of 51 passes for 656 yards as No. 9 West Virginia won a wild point-scoring race with No. 25 Baylor, 70-63.
It was a game that will set the standard in the college football passing game this year as Smith and Company broke school record after school record and kept the sellout crowd at Milan Puskar Stadium spellbound.
"Not every Big 12 game is like this," said coach Dana Holgorsen. "This is my 10th year in this league, and I've never seen anything like that. This was kind of the perfect storm."
Stedman Bailey, shifted to the slot from the outside receiver position, caught five touchdown passes and 13 passes for 303 yards.
Tavon Austin caught 14 passes for 215 yards and two touchdowns.
And J.D. Woods -- whose one-armed grab saved the game in the fourth quarter by preserving possession for the Mountaineers -- finished with 13 catches for 114 yards and a touchdown.
More remarkable than the sheer number of Mountaineers touchdowns --10 -- was how quickly they were produced. Nearly every time Baylor scored, West Virginia turned and fired off their own touchdown drive. Just two of the 10 scores took more than three minutes to produce.
In all, West Virginia produced a school-record 807 yards of offense as it ended Baylor's nine-game winning streak.
"I hate the suspense but I love the fact we always persevere," said Smith, whose 88 percent completion percentage is the best in the country since 2000. "It did feel like one of those classic Texas shootouts."
The Mountaineers created some breathing room early in the third quarter, taking a three-score lead on touchdown passes from Smith to Austin of 45 and 53 yards and a rushing touchdown from Andrew Buie to go up, 56-35, at the 5:16 mark. They never trailed again, but they were forced to eat up some clock in their final possession.
The bad news? The defense was as bad as the offense was fantastic.
Baylor rolled up 700 yards, converted 11 of 16 third downs, got an impressive performance from quarterback Nick Florence (29 of 47 for 581 yards) and had a 300-yard receiver in Terrance Williams (314 yards on 17 catches).
"We won. We won the game," said West Virginia defensive coordinator Joe DeForest. "Am I happy about it? No. It's hard to take as a defensive coach, but we're going to make corrections.
"It's a work in progress. Unfortunately, it is."
Things heated up early.
Smith threw a perfect fade to Bailey from the 2 to connect with 29 seconds left in the first half, and it looked like the Mountaineers might take their first lead into halftime at 35-28.
But Baylor's Florence made quick work of West Virginia's defense.
On second and long, he scrambled from pressure, and, at the last second, found wide-open Lanear Sampson at the WVU 45. Sampson turned and blazed up the sideline and made three converging defenders miss on his way to the end zone. A replay made it appear Florence was beyond the line of scrimmage when he made the pass, but it stood after a review. All that did, though, was make the score 35-35 at halftime.
Smith found Austin with two long passes to start the second half and got the rushing touchdowns from Buie to give the Mountaineers their first two-score, then first three-score lead at 56-35.
NOTES -- West Virginia and Baylor combined for the most points (124) in a game between teams ranked in the AP Top 25. ... The combined 19 touchdowns tied a I-A record reached in '07 when Navy beat North Texas, 74-62. ... Smith set West Virginia's consecutive pass completions record with 14 in one second-quarter stretch.
First Published September 30, 2012 12:00 am