Oct 9, 2021; Waco, Texas, USA; Baylor Bears wide receiver Drew Estrada (18) stiff arms West Virginia Mountaineers safety Sean Mahone (29) during the first half at McLane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Baylor’s Gerry Bohanon throws for 336 yards as Bears top West Virginia

Baylor emphatically made its case for a quick return to the polls by dispatching West Virginia 45-20 in Waco, Texas, on Saturday.

The Bears, who dropped from the AP Top 25 poll following their first loss of the season last week against Oklahoma State, dominated, outgaining the Mountaineers 525-362.

The game was billed as a battle between one of the nation’s top rushing teams, Baylor, and West Virginia’s stellar run defense. Instead, Baylor took to the air early and often, building a 28-10 lead off 272 first-half passing yards from quarterback Gerry Bohanon, who set a career high for passing in the opening half.

Bohanon finished the game completing 18 of 29 passes for 336 yards with four touchdowns.

The Bears (5-1, 3-1 Big 12) started the game with a bang, scoring on a 75-yard Bohanon touchdown pass to Tyquan Thornton on their second play from scrimmage.

West Virginia (2-4, 0-3) answered with a 6-play, 75-yard drive to the tie the game 7-7 on Jarret Doege’s 12-yard pass to Sean Ryan.

Baylor outscored West Virginia 21-3 the rest of the half.

Bohanon’s 10-yard touchdown pass to Ben Sims completed an 8-play, 75-yard drive. A shorter field (48 yards) set up Bohanon’s 1-yard touchdown run with 5:24 left in the first quarter.

Bohanon threw his third touchdown pass of the game, an 11-yarder to Thornton, with 9:52 to play in the second quarter, finishing off a five-play, 86-yard drive.

Thornton finished with eight receptions for 187 yards and 2 touchdowns.

West Virginia scored with 6:17 to play in the first half on a Casey Legg 29-yard field goal. Legg added a 27-yarder with 9:17 to play in the third quarter to cut the lead to 28-13.

The Bears quickly responded. Sims and Bohanon connected again on a 29-yard scoring strike with 8:43 to go in the third before the ground game got going with an Abram Smith 31-yard rushing touchdown with 4:37 to go in the third.

An Isaiah Hankins 45-yard field goal for Baylor and a Garrett Greene 13-yard touchdown run for West Virginia capped the scoring in the fourth quarter.

–Field Level Media

Oct 2, 2021; Morgantown, West Virginia, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers quarterback Jarret Doege (2) passes the ball during the fourth quarter against the Texas Tech Red Raiders at Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

Baylor, West Virginia face off in key Big 12 contest

After successive losses on last-minute field goals, the West Virginia Mountaineers could use a break Saturday. But then again, they’re running into the Baylor Bears, who are also looking to turn the corner in the Big 12 after a disappointing reversal.

Both Baylor and West Virginia will be shooting for better results Saturday in Waco, Texas.

Baylor (4-1, 2-1 Big 12) is fresh off its first loss of the season, while West Virginia (2-3, 0-2) has yet to grab a win in league play despite playing Oklahoma and Texas Tech to the bitter end.

Neither team can afford another loss if they’d like to eventually factor into the Big 12 race and position themselves for a high-profile bowl opportunity.

And neither head coach is satisfied with the state of his team.

“I’m very disappointed in our competitive maturity,” Baylor coach Dave Aranda said following his team’s 24-14 loss at Oklahoma State. “It’s something that I take as a heavy, heavy blow. It’s something that I’m very committed to improving. We talk about how something like this is going to cost us a game, and it just did.”

Despite the loss, Baylor has already exceeded its win total from 2020 (2-7). The Bears have the second-best scoring defense in the conference (17.4 ppg) and have an identity on offense, where they rely on a physical ground game to rush for an average of 238.2 yards a game.

Abram Smith is fifth in the Big 12 with 510 yards and has averaged 7.6 yards per carry with six touchdowns, and quarterback Gerry Bohanon has added 118 yards and five touchdowns on the ground.

But after rolling up big numbers in their first four games, the Bears ran into a stiff Oklahoma State defense last week, managing just 107 yards rushing — and West Virginia’s run defense looks even stingier.

West Virginia, coming off a 23-20 home loss to Texas Tech that followed a 16-13 loss at Oklahoma, has allowed just 2.5 yards per carry (best in the Big 12).

West Virginia coach Neal Brown knows that the battle up front and general execution will influence the outcome.

“We’ve not put a whole game together. It’s frustrating,” Brown said. “We’ve got to be a more detail-oriented group.

“We’re not asking our players to go out there and execute things they can’t do… We’ve got to be able to run the ball better.”

The Mountaineers may lean on running back Leddie Brown, who has rushed for 378 yards (4.6 ypc) and six touchdowns. Quarterback Jarret Doege has completed 65.3 percent of his passes for 1,207 yards and 7 touchdowns against 4 interceptions.

“Doege played his best half of football the second half (against Texas Tech),” Brown said. “I thought his numbers were good.”

Doege led the Mountaineers back from a 17-0 halftime deficit to tie the score before Texas Tech’s game-winning field goal with 18 seconds remaining.

–Field Level Media

Oklahoma's Spencer Rattler (7) drops back to pass during a college football game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021. Oklahoma won 23-16.

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No. 4 Oklahoma, West Virginia both aim to avoid letdown

With each team coming off victories over rivals, West Virginia over Virginia Tech and Oklahoma over Nebraska, a bit of a letdown might be natural.

But heading into Saturday’s game at Oklahoma, both are doing their best to avoid such pitfalls.

The No. 4 Sooners are looking to prove they still belong in the discussion for a College Football Playoff berth after a pair of tight nonconference wins over Tulane and the Cornhuskers.

West Virginia is looking to continue to bounce back from its season-opening loss to Maryland and continue to show progress in Neal Brown’s third season.

“We are going up against the six-time defending Big 12 champion,” Brown said. “You know just saying that is a lot, right? But six times in a row they’ve won the Big 12 championship.”

The Mountaineers (2-1) defense has been tough, especially recently. West Virginia has allowed just 424 yards of total offense combined over their last two games.

West Virginia’s defense will have its hands full against Spencer Rattler and the Sooners, even if Rattler hasn’t been overly sharp early and Oklahoma (3-0) is coming off its lowest-scoring output since 2016 in a 23-16 victory over Nebraska.

“The thing about Rattler is his arm is so unique,” Brown said. “He can move. He extends plays. … He has one of the strongest arms and one of the quickest releases that I’ve seen.”

And though the scoring output hasn’t yet lived up to the high levels the Sooners have posted in recent seasons, Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley says his offense is close to breaking through.

“Probably a little bit closer than a lot of people think to playing some good ball,” Riley said. “We’ve had some periods of the season already where we’ve played very good ball, so it’s a fine line and we’ve got to push it over the hump.

“The thing with Spencer is continue to stay patient, continue to play within the system and trust his teammates, trust what we’re doing and if we can all do that as a group, we’ll continue and we’ll bust through and play pretty well coming up soon.”

Rattler has completed nearly 75 percent of his passes this season, but is averaging just 7.7 yards per attempt, down from 9.6 a year ago in his first season as the starter.

The teams didn’t play last season, with COVID issues for West Virginia initially pushing the game back then similar issues with the Sooners two weeks later forcing the game to ultimately be canceled.

“We didn’t play a year ago, but prepared at length for, which is just unique when you turn back on the film because there’s no opponent that you’ve never played or you haven’t played in two years that you’ve seen so much film on,” Sooners defensive coordinator Alex Grinch said.

Oklahoma has won all eight meetings between the teams since West Virginia joined the Big 12 in 2012, including the last six by an average of more than 20 points per game.

The Sooners lead the overall series 10-2.

Oklahoma will be without cornerback Woodi Washington and potentially without receiver Brian Darby for the game. Washington and Darby were both hurt in the Sooners’ second game of the season and missed last week’s win over Nebraska.

–Field Level Media

Sep 18, 2021; Morgantown, West Virginia, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers quarterback Jarret Doege (2) throws a pass during the first quarter against the Virginia Tech Hokies at Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

West Virginia hangs on to upset No. 15 Virginia Tech

Jarret Doege threw for 193 yards and two touchdowns and Leddie Brown ran for 161 yards and a score to power West Virginia to a 27-21 upset of No. 15 Virginia Tech in a nonconference game Saturday in Morgantown, W.Va.

Doege completed 15 of 26 passes and Brown averaged 8.5 yards per carry, but it was the defense that secured the victory.

The Mountaineers capped a day in which they recorded six sacks by forcing an incomplete pass on fourth-and-goal from the 4-yard line in the final minute, preventing the Hokies from completing their comeback from 20 points down late in the third quarter.

The Mountaineers (2-1) of the Big 12 have won seven straight home games and are 19-0 against nonconference opponents in Morgantown since falling to then-No. 2 LSU in 2011. The Hokies (2-1) of the ACC were denied their first 3-0 start since 2017.

On WVU’s second offensive snap, Brown took a handoff and raced up the middle for an 80-yard touchdown to give the Mountaineers a 7-0 lead with 12:24 left that it wouldn’t relinquish.

After Doege extended the lead to 14-0 with a 29-yard touchdown pass to Bryce Ford-Wheaton with 9:11 left in the first quarter, Virginia Tech pulled to within 14-7 when Braxton Burmeister threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Tayvion Robinson six minutes later.

West Virginia dominated the second quarter. Doege threw a 16-yard scoring strike to Sam James midway through the period and Casey Legg connected on a 21-yard field goal for a 24-7 halftime lead.

The Mountaineers extended the lead to 27-7 to open the second half, as Legg’s 44-yard field capped a 12-play, 55-yard drive that lasted more than eight minutes.

Raheem Blackshear pulled Virginia Tech to within 27-14 when he scored on a 20-yard run with a second left in the third quarter.

The Hokies had a chance to pull closer after forcing a turnover, but Jared Bartlett stripped Burmeister on fourth-and-goal from the 6, with Lance Dixon recovering for the Mountaineers with less than six minutes to play.

Burmeister, who finished 19-of-31 passing for 227 yards and two touchdowns, capped the scoring with a 29-yard touchdown pass to Jalen Holston that pulled the Hokies to within 27-21 with 3:10 left.

The Hokies had a chance to win after intercepting Doege with 2:11 left and returning it the Mountaineers’ 17-yard line, but their offense couldn’t find the end zone.

–Field Level Media

Sep 3, 2021; Blacksburg, Virginia, USA;  Virginia Tech Hokies quarterback Braxton Burmeister (3) runs the huddle during the first quarter against the North Carolina Tar Heels at Lane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

No. 15 Virginia Tech takes fast start to West Virginia

VVirginia Tech’s last 3-0 start came in 2017.

It has been much longer since West Virginia lost to a nonconference opponent at home.

Hitting the road for the first time in 2021, the No. 15 Hokies look to remain undefeated on Saturday against the Mountaineers at Morgantown, W.V.

Following a 17-10 upset of then-No. 10 North Carolina and 35-14 win over Middle Tennessee on Saturday, Virginia Tech (2-0) plays its initial road game with an eye toward that 2017 team, which opened the season 4-0. The Hokies are just 7-8 away from home since the start of the 2018 season.

West Virginia (1-1) has won six consecutive games at home and is 18-0 against nonconference opponents at Morgantown since a 47-21 loss to then-No. 2 LSU on Sept. 24, 2011. That was also the last time the Mountaineers hosted a ranked nonconference team.

“Incredible challenge for our football team,” Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente said.

“We’re excited for it, we’re excited for the opportunity, the challenge to this team on the road in a hostile environment — and see how we can perform. This is part of why you play the game.”

The Hokies’ early success has been based on a solid defensive effort in which they’ve yielded 703 total yards, recorded nine sacks and four interceptions through two games.

Offensively, Virginia Tech quarterback Braxton Burmeister has thrown for 311 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. He also leads the team with 94 rushing yards on 17 carries.

Virginia Tech did endure a blow after talented tight end James Mitchell (five receptions, 42 yards, one touchdown in 2021) went down with a season-ending knee injury.

The Hokies have won three in a row over West Virginia, but this is their first meeting since 2017.

The Mountaineers opened their season with a 30-24 loss at Maryland, where they rushed for just 48 yards and committed four turnovers. West Virginia, however, rebounded with an easy 66-0 rout of Long Island University last weekend.

“We sit here at 1-1, and now our chance at redemption, a chance to really make a mark is on Saturday,” West Virginia coach Neal Brown said.

“It’s going to be one of the biggest home games we’ve had here in my tenure. … (I look) forward to the opportunity.”

Virginia Tech’s defense looks to continue its strong start while trying to contain multi-threat Mountaineers quarterback Jarret Doege and running back Leddie Brown.

In his fifth collegiate season, Doege has thrown for 536 of his 7,982 career yards in 2021. He threw three of his four touchdowns this season against LIU. Brown, with 1,927 rushing yards over 34 collegiate contests, saw limited work against LIU after running for 73 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries versus Maryland.

Brown’s five touchdowns (four rushing, one receiving) are tied for second in the country to enter the week.

–Field Level Media

Sep 4, 2021; College Park, Maryland, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers quarterback Jarret Doege (2) drops back for a pass and is chased by Maryland Terrapins defensive back Tarheeb Still (12) during the first quarter at Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

Taulia Tagovailoa tosses three TDs, Maryland beat West Virginia

Taulia Tagovailoa threw three touchdown passes, including a lead-extending 60-yarder to Rakim Jarrett in the fourth quarter Saturday afternoon, as Maryland opened the 2021 football season with a 30-24 non-conference victory over visiting West Virginia.

Dontay Demus Jr. and Chigoziem Okonkwo also hauled in TD receptions for the Terrapins (1-0), who hadn’t faced West Virginia since 2015 and had beaten the Mountaineers just once in their previous 10 meetings.

Running back Leddie Brown scored three times for West Virginia (0-1), which was coming off a 6-4 season that included a Liberty Bowl win over Army.

A high-scoring affair turned into a defensive struggle after the Maryland defense, which had given up touchdowns on three of West Virginia’s first four possessions, held the visitors to three points over the game’s final 41 minutes.

The teams scored on six of the game’s first eight possessions, with West Virginia’s Brown twice giving his team a lead, first at 7-3 on a 20-yard pass from Jarret Doege in the game’s seventh minute and later at 21-17 on a 9-yard run with 11:30 remaining in the half.

Brown also scored on a 2-yard run late in the first quarter and finished with 112 total yards — 69 on 16 carries and 43 on four receptions from Doege, who passed for 280 yards with two interceptions.

Down 21-20 at the half, Maryland took the lead for good on Joseph Petrino’s third field goal, a 25-yarder with 9:16 remaining in the game.

After Doege threw 39 yards to Sam James to the Maryland 13 on the Mountaineers’ next drive, Jakorian Bennett intercepted a pass in the end zone, West Virginia’s fourth turnover.

Tagovailoa then found Jarrett all alone down the left sideline for the 60-yard score with 6:25 to play that gave Maryland the cushion it needed to pull off the mild upset.

Casey Legg’s 24-yard field goal with 2:53 left ended West Virginia’s scoring drought and made it a one-score game at 30-24, but Tayon Fleet-Davis busted loose for a 53-yard run on Maryland’s ensuing possession and the Terrapins were able to run out the clock.

Tagovailoa finished 26-for-36 for 332 yards with no interceptions. Fleet-Davis was the game’s leading rusher with 123 yards on 18 carries, while Demus (six catches, 133 yards) and Jarrett (six catches, 122 yards) both went over 100 yards in receptions.

–Field Level Media

Dec 31, 2020; Memphis, TN, USA; Army Black Knights linebacker Arik Smith (53) sacks West Virginia Mountaineers quarterback Jarret Doege (2) for fumble during the first half  at Liberty Bowl Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

West Virginia rallies to top Army in Liberty Bowl

Backup quarterback Austin Kendall threw two second half touchdown passes Thursday, including the game-winner to T.J. Simmons with 5:10 remaining, as West Virginia rallied for a 24-21 victory over Army in the Liberty Bowl at Memphis, Tenn.

Taking over for starter Jarret Doege, who was 15 of 25 for 159 yards with a touchdown, an interception and a lost fumble, Kendall had an instant impact. He connected with Mike O’Laughlin on a 3-yard scoring strike with 3:22 remaining in the third quarter that pulled the Mountaineers within 21-16.

Kendall then found Simmons for his second touchdown of the day, a 20-yard pass that finished off a 65-yard drive and enabled West Virginia to finish the year at 6-4. Kendall hit on 8 of his 17 passes for 121 yards.

The Black Knights (9-3), who took the place of Tennessee in the game after the Volunteers bowed out last week due to a COVID-19 outbreak within the program, could have tied the game with 1:50 remaining. But kicker Quinn Maretzki yanked a 39-yard field-goal attempt wide left.

Army had one final chance to win or force overtime, but West Virginia’s Josh Chandler-Semedo intercepted Christian Anderson at the Mountaineers’ 26-yard line with 29 seconds remaining.

Army’s Tyhier Tyler rushed 24 times for 76 yards and three scores, while Anderson completed 4 of 6 passes for 57 yards.

West Virginia initiated scoring late in the first quarter, tapping into a field position advantage created by its defense after it stopped Army on a 4th-and-2 at the Mountaineers’ 38. Tyler Sumpter’s 31-yard field goal capped a seven-play, 48-yard drive.

The Black Knights finally found traction on their next possession, eating 74 yards and more than seven minutes on 14 plays. Tyler ran off right tackle for a 1-yard touchdown.

West Virginia grabbed a 10-7 edge in the second quarter when Doege found Simmons for a 5-yard scoring strike at the 4:21 mark.

Just before the half, Doege was sacked by Army’s Malkeim Morrison and stripped of the ball, with Ryan Duran recovering at the West Virginia 7 for the Black Knights. That turned into a 6-yard touchdown keeper by Tyler two plays later that gave Army a 14-10 halftime lead.

–Field Level Media

Dec 5, 2020; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Spencer Rattler (7) throws as Baylor Bears linebacker Dillon Doyle (44) chases during the first half at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

No. 11 Oklahoma looking to stay sharp vs. West Virginia

Entering Saturday’s game at West Virginia, Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley, at least publicly, isn’t looking with an eye ahead to the Big 12 Championship Game.

The No. 11 Sooners were supposed to have a bye this week, but two weeks ago, COVID-19 issues with Oklahoma forced their game against the Mountaineers to be postponed, so the teams will give it another try this week.

Coming off a 27-14 win over Baylor that clinched a spot in the title game, Riley said the focus is getting his team back in a rhythm following their shutdown two weeks ago. Against Baylor, the Sooners’ defense played well but the offense was uncharacteristically sluggish.

“We’ve had so many bye weeks,” Riley said. “Having the facilities shut down that long in the middle of the season was a different deal. Just for us to play the quality of ball and to make the improvements that we need to make, we need to play.”

West Virginia is coming off a 42-6 loss to Iowa State, the first blowout loss of the season for the Mountaineers (5-4 overall, 4-4 Big 12).

“Really this week it’s about us getting back on track and playing football like we have in the previous eight games,” Mountaineers coach Neal Brown said.

West Virginia has yet to lose a home game this year, going 5-0 at Milan Puskar Stadium.

Both teams figure to be well-prepared for each other. The Sooners had a half week of preparation in late November before the originally scheduled game was wiped out on the Wednesday before the game.

The Mountaineers had even more time, with a bye week scheduled a week before the Nov. 28 game.

“They’re probably tired of working on Oklahoma,” Riley said. “Is it one of those deals where you’re not starting over? Certainly. … It’s certainly not like we were starting over on a brand-new team this Monday for the players and coaches. It’s still busy as a normal week, but it definitely doesn’t feel quite as new.”

Oklahoma (7-2, 6-2) has won all eight meetings with the Mountaineers since West Virginia joined the Big 12 in 2012.

There has been plenty of offense in this series. With the exception of a 16-7 win in 2013, the Sooners have scored at least 44 points in each of those meetings, while the Mountaineers have averaged better than 30 points.

But with West Virginia leading the Big 12 in total defense and scoring defense, and Oklahoma second in total defense and third in scoring, this game could be lower scoring.

Last season, the Sooners won 52-14.

Even coming off last week’s blowout, Mountaineers linebacker Josh Chandler-Semedo said his team was more confident this season.

“This year, I feel that we have established an identity,” Chandler-Semedo said. “We know exactly what we are capable of doing. We have seen the film. They have seen us. Best on best, at the end of the day that’s what it is.”

–Field Level Media

Dec 5, 2020; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Spencer Rattler (7) throws as Baylor Bears linebacker Dillon Doyle (44) chases during the first half at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

No. 11 Oklahoma looking to stay sharp vs. West Virginia

Entering Saturday’s game at West Virginia, Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley, at least publicly, isn’t looking with an eye ahead to the Big 12 Championship Game.

The No. 11 Sooners were supposed to have a bye this week, but two weeks ago, COVID-19 issues with Oklahoma forced their game against the Mountaineers to be postponed, so the teams will give it another try this week.

Coming off a 27-14 win over Baylor that clinched a spot in the title game, Riley said the focus is getting his team back in a rhythm following their shutdown two weeks ago. Against Baylor, the Sooners’ defense played well but the offense was uncharacteristically sluggish.

“We’ve had so many bye weeks,” Riley said. “Having the facilities shut down that long in the middle of the season was a different deal. Just for us to play the quality of ball and to make the improvements that we need to make, we need to play.”

West Virginia is coming off a 42-6 loss to Iowa State, the first blowout loss of the season for the Mountaineers (5-4 overall, 4-4 Big 12).

“Really this week it’s about us getting back on track and playing football like we have in the previous eight games,” Mountaineers coach Neal Brown said.

West Virginia has yet to lose a home game this year, going 5-0 at Milan Puskar Stadium.

Both teams figure to be well-prepared for each other. The Sooners had a half week of preparation in late November before the originally scheduled game was wiped out on the Wednesday before the game.

The Mountaineers had even more time, with a bye week scheduled a week before the Nov. 28 game.

“They’re probably tired of working on Oklahoma,” Riley said. “Is it one of those deals where you’re not starting over? Certainly. … It’s certainly not like we were starting over on a brand-new team this Monday for the players and coaches. It’s still busy as a normal week, but it definitely doesn’t feel quite as new.”

Oklahoma (7-2, 6-2) has won all eight meetings with the Mountaineers since West Virginia joined the Big 12 in 2012.

There has been plenty of offense in this series. With the exception of a 16-7 win in 2013, the Sooners have scored at least 44 points in each of those meetings, while the Mountaineers have averaged better than 30 points.

But with West Virginia leading the Big 12 in total defense and scoring defense, and Oklahoma second in total defense and third in scoring, this game could be lower scoring.

Last season, the Sooners won 52-14.

Even coming off last week’s blowout, Mountaineers linebacker Josh Chandler-Semedo said his team was more confident this season.

“This year, I feel that we have established an identity,” Chandler-Semedo said. “We know exactly what we are capable of doing. We have seen the film. They have seen us. Best on best, at the end of the day that’s what it is.”

–Field Level Media