West Virginia was supposed to be the worst team in the Big 12 this season, everybody knows this.
The Mountaineers were far from that this season, but we got a glimpse of what that might’ve looked like with their performance against Baylor on Saturday.
Against the Bears, one of the teams actually at the bottom of the conference, we saw a WVU team that very well could have finished last in the league. It was a WVU team that did everything it could to get in its own way, couldn’t play complimentary football and fell apart at the first sign of adversity.
The Mountaineers actually played quite well in the first half. The offense put together six scoring drives and the defense pitched a shutout, but special teams was a mess as WVU allowed back-to-back kickoff return touchdowns to Baylor’s Richard Reese.
That lack of complimentary football turned what should have been a convincing blowout into a game as Baylor only trailed 27-14 at halftime.
That allowed Baylor, a 3-8 team playing out the final game of a dreadful season with its backup quarterback, to come out of the break with some confidence. That led the way for West Virginia, a team with infinitely more to play for than Baylor, to be utterly dominated in the third quarter.
The Bears did whatever they wanted in the frame, scoring two touchdowns to take the lead while completely shutting down WVU’s offense.
One of those Baylor touchdowns was set up by a kick-catch interference penalty by WVU’s punt team, another special teams snafu.
A field goal to start the fourth quarter gave Baylor a 31-27 lead, but those four points began to feel insurmountable as the Mountaineers squandered one chance after another. WVU’s offense got the ball three times trailing by four or less points and punted all three times.
And yet, with all of that being said, with all the bad, ugly and bone-headed football the Mountaineers played, they won the game 34-31.
The offense got one final chance when Baylor missed a field goal with less than two minutes to play. Quarterback Garrett Greene, who was miserable in the second half, put together a masterful final drive that resulted in a game-winning 29-yard touchdown pass to Jahiem White.
Football is a tough sport, winning games is hard. There are days when a three-win team can play picture perfect, dominating football and there are days when a team that’s played horribly can muster up just enough juice to win at the very end.
West Virginia was supposed to be the worst team in the Big 12 this season. Even though that’s how they played on Saturday, the Mountaineers proved that they’re well and truly not.