Here are five things Baylor fans need to know about the Bears’ Thursday night opponent: the West Virginia Mountaineers.
Will Grier made a Heisman case last season as West Virginia’s starting quarterback, throwing for 3,864 yards and 37 touchdowns while leading the Mountaineers to an 8-4 record.
With Grier gone, former Oklahoma quarterback Austin Kendall has taken over the starting role.
Kendall was buried on the depth chart behind Heisman-winning quarterbacks Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray for consecutive seasons at Oklahoma before transferring to West Virginia.
In his first collegiate season as a starter, Kendall has thrown for 1,429 yards, 11 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
Under Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia went to seven bowl games and posted two 10-win seasons. He led the Mountaineers to a 61-41 record in his eight seasons in Morgantown.
But following an 8-4 season last year, Holgorsen opted to leave for a head coaching job at Houston. Neal Brown took over at West Virginia following his departure.
Brown joins West Virginia after four seasons as Troy’s head coach. Brown led Troy to 10-win seasons and bowl wins in each of the last three years at Troy.
Unsurprisingly for a team that has undergone changes at quarterback and head coach, this isn’t the same West Virginia squad that was among the most lethal teams in the Big 12 last year.
West Virginia started the season with a 3-1 record before dropping three straight contests to Texas, Iowa State and Oklahoma. The Mountaineers are in danger of missing out on bowl eligibility for the first time since 2013 and only the second time since 2001.
West Virginia’s remaining schedule won’t be too easy. The Mountaineers still have matchups against No. 12 Baylor, Texas Tech, No. 22 Kansas State, Oklahoma State and TCU.
Last year, West Virginia was second to only Oklahoma in the Big 12 with a scoring offense averaging 40.2 points per game.
With the personnel changes this season, West Virginia is currently last in the conference, averaging 22.7 points per game. The Mountaineers are also last in the conference in total offense per game, averaging 314.1 yards per game.
Things haven’t been much better for West Virginia on the other side of the ball.
After allowing a serviceable 27.2 points per game last season to rank fifth in the Big 12 in scoring defense, the Mountaineers have taken a major step back in 2019, allowing a league-high 33.4 points per game.
Baylor and West Virginia’s head-to-head series isn’t too extensive since the Mountaineers joined the Big 12 in 2012.
In the short span, West Virginia holds the advantage against Baylor with a 5-2 record and wins in each of the last three matchups.
In four tries, Baylor has yet to win in Morgantown.