By DJ Ramirez | Sports Editor
The Bears are going on a hunting trip to Morgantown, W.Va., looking to add their first road win against the Mountaineers to the column. Here are three storylines to follow leading into Baylor’s matchup with West Virginia.
No Fans. No Problem.
While it might feel weird to play in an empty stadium, Baylor football is just focusing on the field. During his Monday press conference, head coach Dave Aranda said he wants the Bears to worry only about themselves.
“How we handle the day-to-day, how we handle our walk-throughs, how we handle our meetings, how we handle our pregame, how we handle adverse situations, it’s all about us,” Aranda said. “No fans, there will be an effect there, but we would really like for our players and our coaches to just be so tuned in to what we’re doing and what the exact call or situation requires, that that stuff just kind of fades away.”
West Virginia announced on Sept. 21 that it would not allow fans for the game against Baylor. WVU athletic director Shane Lyons said in the announcement that it was the right decision at the time.
“Our plans for a socially distanced seating manifest in the stadium have been ready for some time, but we need conditions to improve on campus and in the community before we can proceed,” Lyons said.
The decision was made while West Virginia was still holding classes completely online and had not yet decided if they would move to in person classes. WVU will begin hosting fans at 25% capacity beginning on Oct. 17 for its game against Kansas.
Watch Yo Self
Both West Virginia and Baylor have struggled with penalties during the early season, with the Bears totaling 95 yards on eight calls during the first half against the Jayhawks. The Mountaineers have also averaged 95 penalty yards per game.
While Baylor was able to address those small mistakes in its win on Saturday, with no penalties in the second half, West Virginia’s faults were a significant factor in its loss to Oklahoma State.
“The procedure penalties and the non-aggressive penalties need to be eliminated because they kill yourself,” WVU head coach Neal Brown said at his weekly press conference on Tuesday. “Where we are right now, we cannot beat ourselves.”
Fixing those mental errors will be key for both teams this weekend.
We’re Coming to Your House
The Bears have never won a game at Milan Puskar Stadium. Baylor is 3-5 in the all-time series against West Virginia and 0-4 in every game played in Morgantown. The Bears edged out the Mountaineers with a 17-14 victory on Halloween night at McLane Stadium last year after losing three in a row from 2016 to 2018.
Baylor fell 58-14 in its last trip to Puskar, a game that saw WVU’s star quarterback Will Grier throw three touchdown passes, going 17-for-27 with 353 yards through the air. Former BU starting QB Jalan McClendon was held to 183 passing yards and no passing touchdowns. McClendon had 22 rushing yards and one of Baylor’s two rushing touchdowns on the night and was sacked two times.
Charlie Brewer entered the game in the middle of the third quarter but only made one completion for 22 yards, and was pulled a short time later after being sacked three times and throwing three interceptions.
So, it’s safe to say that the Bears are ready to burn the Mountaineers’ house down this weekend.
Baylor and West Virginia kickoff at 11 a.m. Saturday. The game will be broadcast on ABC.