Golden Opportunity: Bears anticipate redemption against West Virginia

Head coach Art Briles discusses a call during Baylor’s game against Lamar on Sept. 26 at McLane Stadium. The Bears had issues with penalties last season against West Virginia, committing 18. Photo credit: Sarah Pyo

Looking back on Baylor’s loss last season to West Virginia, a game that seemingly cost the Bears a spot in the final four, the No. 2 Bears are of mixed emotions ahead of their rematch with the Mountaineers this Saturday.

Last year, the Baylor Bears had their national title aspirations come to a screeching halt after suffering an unexpected defeat against the West Virginia Mountaineers.

“Going into that game, we felt pretty good,” Head coach Art Briles said. “We were a 6-0 football team, we knew we were going into a hostile environment against a really good team.”

At the time, Baylor was ranked No. 4 in the nation and appeared to be headed for a sure-fire selection in the inaugural season of the College Football Playoff.

However, the Bears looked uncharacteristically lethargic on offense as Baylor mustered a season-low 27 points at West Virginia.

Whether it was the hostile environment or the 18 penalties committed in that game, players admitted that they let the game slip away.

“[West Virginia] played the game they were going to play and we kind of fell into what they were playing,” said junior quarterback Seth Russell. “This year we are going to have to stick to our plan and do what we do best, and that’s scoring points.”

This weekend presents Baylor with a supreme chance to attain revenge against the squad from Morgantown, W. Va., in a home game at McLane Stadium.

Briles said he is not buying into the mindset of payback for the matchup this Saturday, though.

“As silly as it sounds, revenge is not something that is really thrown into our vocabulary,” Briles said. “If there’s any revenge, it needs to be on us. Are we going to blame them for beating us? The way we look at it is that [the loss was] our fault, my fault. We didn’t take care of business.”

Briles went on to say it is every opposing team’s job to try and beat Baylor. Even with last season’s game on everyone’s mind, there are no added incentives to Saturday’s game, Briles said.

The Bears will have to remain focused to get the win at home on Saturday, Briles said.

“We knew how the stadium would be, and we weren’t disappointed,” Briles said. “We felt good going in, but they out-coached us, they outplayed us and they did a better job that day than we did.”

Russell agreed with Briles by saying the team shot itself in the foot with all the costly penalties and unusual mistakes last season.

Russell said revenge is not in the minds of the team, and the Bears have to go out and play the brand of football that helped Baylor achieve its highest ranking in program history on Monday.

Despite the repeated assurance from Briles and Russell about payback not being on the minds of Baylor players, junior wide receiver Corey Coleman seemed to be singing a different tune.

“It’s important for us to defend our home turf,” Coleman said. “When anyone steps foot in Waco, it’s our job to run them out of here.”

“They outdid us last year, so we have a little bit of an edge going into this game. We’re ready to get that bad taste out of our mouth.”

Senior wide receiver Jay Lee also spoke about the excitement of playing West Virginia and the chance to knock them off in front of the positive Baylor fan base at McLane Stadium.

Lee said it should be fun to show the Mountaineers what kind of atmosphere Baylor fans bring after losing in Morgantown last season.

Another player who’s looking forward to revenge, junior cornerback Ryan Reid, hopes to keep Baylor’s 18-game home winning streak alive in the process.

“We are going to do everything it takes to keep that winning streak going. It means a lot to us and the program. For Baylor Nation it means a lot, so we want to keep it going and keep it alive,” Reid said.

The Bears will get their chance to improve that win streak and gain revenge for last season’s loss 11 a.m. Saturday at McLane Stadium.