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West Virginia Game Preview: Game 6 - Baylor Bears

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 03 Baylor at West Virginia Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Baylor Bears for the 30 years before West Virginia joined the Big 12 were not a good football team. They won 146 games over those 30 years, an average of 4.8 games per year. They had ten years where they were above .500, meaning they had 20 years where they were not. In the past 11 years (2011-2021), they’ve won 90 games, only had 2 years below .500 and six times won at least 10 games. They’ve only ever won 10 games in a season 7 times in their history, six of which have come in the past decade.

Dave Aranda enters his third year at Baylor and he’s coming off a Big 12 Championship and Sugar Bowl win over Ole Miss and now starts the year at #10. Aranda’s team has the makings of a College Football Playoff team and could be the first team in the Big 12 to win a game in the CFP.

Last year, the Bears were not a very explosive offense, finishing fifth in the Big 12 in offense. Last year’s starter Gerry Bohanon lost a spring quarterback battle and has headed for USF. Replacing him will be sophomore Blake Sharpen. Sharpen showed what he could do last year when he helped the Bears beat Oklahoma State 21-16 in the Big 12 Championship Game, where he earned MVP honors after completing his first 17 passes.

Shapen will play behind an experienced line that includes Galvin and sixth-year senior Khalil Keith at the tackles, Miller and fifth-year senior Mose Jeffery at guard and Gall back at center. The line should be more than capable of protecting Sharpen this season.

Craig Williams will handle the lead role of running back following Trestan Ebner and Abram Smith departing for the NFL. Williams will be asked to replace 1,600 yards and 12 touchdowns worth of production in the backfield.

Tight end Ben Sims is actually the leading returning receiver (31-361-6 TDs), but Holmes - the team’s third leading receiver in 2020 – is back after missing last year, but he needs a break from the injuries - is a sixth-year senior who’s expected to lead a young corps of receivers.

Baylor’s defensive front returns its entire two-deep and also added Jaxon Player from Tulsa. First-team All-Big 12 nose tackle Siaki “Apu” Ika will be flanked by Cole Maxwell, Gabe Hall, TJ Franklin and Brayden Utley,in some grouping.

Dillon Doyle returns to the middle linebacker spot, where he’s made 145 tackles over the last two seasons. With Matt Jones moving inside, Garmon Randolph and sophomore Tony Anyanwu are battling for the outside JACK linebacker spot. Jones will be pushed by LSU transfer Josh White, a former four-star recruit.

Cornerback Al Walcott and free safety Christian Morgan are the only returning starters in a secondary that’s breaking in Devin Neal, Mark Milton and Lorando “Snaxx” Johnson at the other three spots in the back end.

2021 Full Game & Highlights

Prediction that will be right: This game will determine just how good WVU is in 2022

Prediction that will be wrong: Baylor has never won in Morgantown

Game Prediction: