Baylor Bears

Three Thoughts on West Virginia’s 34-31 Win over Baylor

NCAA Football: West Virginia at Baylor

The West Virginia Mountaineers defeated the Baylor Bears, 34-31, in a Big 12 Conference game in Waco, Texas, on Saturday.

The Mountaineers (8-4, 6-3 in Big 12) won at least eight games in a season for the first time since 2018. Quarterback Garrett Greene threw for 269 yards and two touchdowns, including the game winner. Jaheim White rushed for 133 yards and Greene rushed for another 103 yards. Hudson Clement led with 80 yards receiving. Linebacker Ben Cutter led WVU with 10 tackles.

 

The Bears (3-9, 2-7) went 1-7 at home. Quarterback Sawyer Robertson threw for 215 yards and a touchdown. Richard Reese led Baylor with 42 yards rushing. Ketron Jackson Jr. had 88 yards receiving. Safety Devyn Bobby led the Bears with nine tackles.

Here are three thoughts on the game.

Richard Reese Unleashed

For 50 minutes of actual time (not game time) Baylor didn’t run a single offensive play. That should have put the Bears out of the game.

Enter Richard Reese. The Bears may not have run a single offensive play in those 50 minutes. But Reese fielded two kickoffs from West Virginia. He returned both for touchdowns. Back-to-back.

Seems improbable right? Well, here’s the first return.

 

And, here’s the second.

 

By the time Reese returned the second kickoff, Baylor was down just 17-14. Reese became the first player in Baylor history to have kickoff returns for touchdowns on back-to-back returns. Trestan Ebner is the only other Bears player to return two kickoffs for touchdowns in a game. But, as noted, he didn’t do it back-to-back.

 

By game’s end he had 237 kickoff return yards and 282 all-purpose yards. The sophomore had a great night — and he kept Baylor in the game.

For perspective, entering the game he had just 264 yards rushing. If you’re thinking ahead to 2024, Reese should be a huge part of Baylor’s plan.

WVU’s Ridiculous Game

The first half? West Virginia could do little wrong.

The second half? West Virginia could do little right.

It was so bad that at one point late in the fourth quarter WVU had just two first downs in the second half and gave up Baylor points on every Bears drive in the third quarter.

Baylor’s last drive was supposed to salt away the game. The Bears handed it to kicker Isaiah Hankins for a 32-yard field goal for a kick that, at the least, would make it a seven-point game with 1:14 left in the game.

He missed. WVU didn’t miss its shot to capitalize.

It was an incredibly efficient game-winning drive, the third of quarterback Garrett Greene’s career.

An 11-yard pass to Hudson Clement (with an assist from offensive lineman Zach Frazier, who seemed to carry him about seven yards across the marker before he got hurt).

Then, Greene to Clement for 23 yards.

Then a Greene run for eight yards, followed by another for nine yards.

 

Then Greene overthrew EJ Horton on a fly route to the end zone.

Finally, Greene connected with Jahiem White for a 29-yard touchdown pass.

It took less than a minute for WVU to rip Baylor’s heart out Thanos-style and rescue its own evening, which after the first quarter looked like it was headed for a WVU blowout.

WVU will finish in the Top 5 in the Big 12 this season. Who had that on their bingo card?

The Hot Seat Flip

I thought back to July and Big 12 Media Days while watching Saturday’s game. I think most of us thought West Virginia coach Neal Brown would be fired by season’s end and that Baylor’s Dave Aranda to have the Bears in contention in the Big 12.

Well, here we are in late November and the thought is that Brown probably gets another season at WVU while Aranda is now firmly on the hot seat at Baylor, to the point where some think he might get shown the door (or should get shown the door, if you’re a particular Baylor fan).

It just exposes the mercurial nature of college football, especially in the transfer portal/NIL era. Programs can defy expectations, such WVU did, or fall well below them, as Baylor did.

It’s what makes college football so much fun — and so maddening.

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You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.

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