BAYLOR BEARS (3-0)
at WEST VIRGINIA MOUNTAINEERS (3-0)
Kickoff: Saturday, 12:00 p.m. EDT
Line: West Virginia -10Ĺ, Total: 81Ĺ
Two of the best offenses in the land sporting 3-0 records meet for the first time ever when No. 25 Baylor visits No. 9 West Virginia in Big 12 play on Saturday afternoon.
This matchup features the two most prolific offensive players in the land in Baylorís Nick Florence (388 total YPG) and West Virginiaís Geno Smith (380 total YPG). Both teams are unbeaten SU, but have both lost two straight ATS. The Bears have scored 47+ points and forced 3+ turnovers in each of their three victories, while the Mountaineers have scored 47.3 PPG. However, Baylor is 0-6 ATS in its past six true road games, and WVU is just 3-7 ATS in its past 10 games in Morgantown.
Can Baylor hang around in this anticipated shootout in Morgantown? For the answer, connect to The Platinum Sheet for all the StatFox Experts picks for every key college football game throughout the 2012 season.
Florence is putting up numbers that remind Baylor fans of Robert Griffin III. Heís completed 71-of-110 passes (65%) for 1,004 yards and 11 TD. However, the level of competition so far hasnít been stellar (SMU, Sam Houston State and UL-Monroe), and Florence has thrown two interceptions in each of his past two games. Having three great receivers has also aided Florenceís maturation, as three players already have more than 200 receiving yards this year, senior Terrance Williams (conference-best 353 rec. yds; 4 TD), junior Tevin Reese (304 rec. yds, 3 TD) and senior Lanear Sampson (202 rec. yds, 2 TD). Baylor has also rushed for 207 rushing YPG, led by Jarred Salubiís 221 yards, but Salubi was held to 47 yards on 16 carries last Friday against ULM. Despite the subpar opponents, Baylorís defense continues to struggle. The Bears have allowed 493 total YPG and 315 passing YPG, which both rank as the 8th-most in the nation. Sophomore LB Bryce Hager has been the lone standout though, as his 13.0 tackles per game (T-2nd in nation), two forced fumbles and two QB hurries are a big reason why his team is still unbeaten.
Smithís numbers are just incredible so far, completing 96-of-118 passes (81%) for 1,072 yards, 12 TD and 0 INT. It helps that he has two of the best receivers in the country, who both rank among the nationís top-10 players in both receptions and receiving yards. Tavon Austin has caught more passes per game (11.3) than anybody in FBS, and Stedman Bailey ranks third with 9.3 receptions per contest. Austinís 115 receiving YPG places seventh in the land, with Bailey right behind him in eighth place with 111 receiving YPG. But for this trio to remain successful, the Mountaineers have to develop a more potent ground game. After torching Marshall for 331 rushing yards, WVU has a paltry 146 yards on 51 carries (2.9 YPC) in the past two games versus James Madison and Maryland. Although the Mountaineersí run defense has been solid this season (122 YPG), they have been torched through the air, allowing 277 passing YPG (103rd in nation). WVU has been able to win all three games by double-digits thanks in part to a +5 turnover margin, forcing six miscues, but committing only one.