West Virginia, Baylor put on a 70-63 show
The Milan Puskar Stadium scoreboard has been condemned until electricians can repair all the short circuits, while three volunteers working Saturday’s press box have already filed for stat-man’s compensation.
West Virginia’s 70-63 victory over Baylor in Morgantown, W. Va., did not just improve one school’s record to 4-0 as it dropped the other school’s record to 3-1.
It was not merely No. 9 West Virginia’s first game as a Big 12 Conference member or the best visual effects programming on FX preceding a later showing of “Spider-Man 3.”
West Virginia’s victory over Baylor passed “Honey, you have to see this” in the second quarter on its way to “You have got to be kidding me.”
One copy of the final game book should be sent to the Smithsonian, with another shipped to Morgantown CSI.
The offensive coordinators will look at it as a work of art to be studied like a Manet or Monet. The defensive coordinators will see it as autopsy report leading to an episode of “Forensic Files.”
What do you call something that ends with 133 points and 1,507 yards?
Do you dare call it football?
If it reminded you of an old Western Athletic Conference game, well, the total yardage fell short of the 1,640 yards piled up 11 years ago by San Jose State and Nevada. West Virginia-Baylor fell three points short of the major college regulation points record set in Navy’s 74-62 win over North Texas in 2007.
West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith, already the Heisman Trophy front-runner, put in his tuxedo order after throwing for 656 yards and eight touchdowns without an interception.
Sixteen of the game’s 19 scoring drives were less than three minutes. The 74 combined completions, 98 attempts and 13 touchdown passes were all stadium records.
West Virginia’s basketball team reached 70 points only 14 times last year while Saturday’s game outscored all of last year’s Final Four games.
“Not every Big 12 game is like this,” West Virginia Coach Dana Holgorsen said after the game, “and not every game is going to be like this.”
Gee, why not?
The Southeastern Conference’s rinse-and-spin cycle machine quickly went to work as CBS’ Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson digested the final score during the real football game (Tennessee at Georgia) they were covering.
Verne: “Sounds like Arena ball.” Gary: “Exactly.”
Tennessee and Georgia then combined to score 60 first-half points on their way to Arena Ball 2.
But maybe these leatherheads were on to something. While it is true Arkansas and Kentucky once played to a 71-63 final, that SEC “instant classic” required seven overtimes and six extra tanks of Gatorade.
Until Saturday, last year’s Alamo Bowl was considered the pinball game of the century. Led by Heisman winner Robert Griffin III, Baylor outlasted Washington, 67-56. After the game, Washington fired its entire defensive staff.
That game, a relative snoozer, produced only 123 points and 1,397 total yards.
Saturday’s game needed an auctioneer to do the play-by-play.
Smith had a virtuoso performance that matched anything Griffin turned in last year. Smith completed 45 of 51 passes with two more touchdown passes than incomplete passes.
The game was so crazy it drew the attention of another young sensation, Angels outfielder Mike Trout, who watched while sitting out a rain delay in Texas.
“Wow” @trouty20 tweeted. “West Virginia Lol QB and WR lol breaking records!”
It was an understatement to say Smith tightened his grip in the Heisman race. He has thrown 20 touchdown passes this year without an interception.
RGIII became last year’s household Roman Numeral Heisman candidate on opening weekend after he led Baylor to a 50-48 win over Texas Christian. Griffin completed 21 of 27 passes for 359 yards and five touchdowns.
Smith, in the first half against No. 25 Baylor, completed 26 of 28 for 288 yards and four touchdowns.
Las Vegas set the “over-under” at 81 and was paying the “overs” off with 9:13 left in the third quarter after West Virginia scored to make it 49-35.
Baylor quarterback Nick Florence, who replaced RGIII this year, had a Heisman-worthy performance himself, completing 29 of 47 passes for 581 yards and five touchdowns.
Florence and Smith each set the single-game passing yardage record for their schools.
Neither team, remarkably, produced a 100-yard rusher, but West Virginia receiver Stedman Bailey finished with 13 catches for 303 yards and five touchdowns. Teammate Tavon Austin added 215 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
Baylor receiver Terrance Williams had 17 catches for 314 yards and two touchdowns.
West Virginia fell short of the school record for points, 92, scored against Marshall in 1915, but the Mountaineers still have at least nine games left.
What to make of Saturday’s mess? Is West Virginia really that prolific? Is Smith really this great?
We should get a better read next week when West Virginia travels to Texas, one of the few Big 12 schools pretending to play defense these days.
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