by Jim Buzzerd
Looking for six
I guess we’ve known for a while that we needed to temper our expectations for the 2019 edition of West Virginia University football. Then again, a 6-6 record for this team seemed to be about the ceiling for most objective fans and that record is still on the table following the Mountaineers’ 52-14 blowout loss to Oklahoma last Saturday dropping WVU to 3-4 on the season.
As has been the norm, WVU was competitive early in the game as they were in the previous two games with Texas and Iowa State well into the second half. WVU didn’t hang around the Sooners longer than the first half Saturday, mostly because the Mountaineers had no answer for Jalen Hurts. Hurts is in his first season at Oklahoma after transferring from Alabama and is making a bid to become the third consecutive Sooner quarterback to win the Heisman Trophy.
Hurts isn’t considered the Heisman frontrunner, but he’s one of them, and Saturday’s effort could only help his cause. He was remarkable passing 16 of 17 for 316 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for 75 yards and two more touchdowns. That’s some good production, even against West Virginia’s freshman dominated secondary.
Moving along, simple math tells us WVU needs to win three of their five remaining games to become bowl eligible. The Mountaineers are off this weekend before traveling to Waco for a Thursday night Halloween contest with Baylor. The Bears, who lost 11 games two seasons ago, are suddenly 7-0 and riding high following a 45-27 win at Oklahoma State Saturday.
All I had heard from WVU fans was that Baylor was the beneficiary of a soft schedule and the Bears weren’t as good as many portray them to be. Yes, Baylor did open the season with three cupcakes, but then won road games at Iowa State and Kansas State. They also needed double overtime to beat Texas Tech at home heading into last Saturday.
Saturday was my first look at the Bears and I think I saw the best they had to offer. Baylor trailed the Cowboys 20-10 in the third quarter before going on a 35-7 run to close out the game. WVU will not be able to keep up with the Bears if they approach the level of play they finished the game with against OSU. A loss in Waco obviously changes the math for WVU to needing to finish the season 3-1 to claim a bowl spot.
The good news is that when the Baylor game is in the rear view mirror the Mountaineers will have played, arguably, the four best Big 12 teams in consecutive games. Can West Virginia find three wins with Texas Tech at home, at Kansas State, home with Oklahoma State and at TCU?
Given the injuries WVU has endured and the result of playing inexperienced players ahead of schedule all over the field, three more wins is looking unlikely, but there is a chance.