By Mickey Furfari
For The Register-Herald
Well, West Virginia football fans certainly got their money’s worth in Saturday’s 70-63 victory over Baylor in that historic first-ever game in the Big 12 Conference.
To a guy in his 67th year of covering the Mountaineers, it was clearly the greatest and highest-scoring game ever in WVU history.
Even WVU basketball would have been impressed.
At least 20 new records were set by the two teams and it reportedly attracted some national attention that WVU couldn’t have afforded to buy.
I can’t remember when two teams on a West Virginia schedule ever approached the heights offensively that the eighth-ranked Mountaineers (4-0) and the Bears (3-1) reached in front of 60,012 spectators.
Seeing was almost unbelieving as the numbers kept rolling up all afternoon. It overshadowed by far WVU’s 63-48 shootout against old rival Pitt in 1965, which came to mind when the halftime score reached a 35-35 tie.
There was, in the third quarter, a moment when the Mountaineers pulled ahead by 14 points. But the 25th-ranked Bears battled back to finish within a touchdown.
Besides combining for a grand total of 133 points, these two new rivals put together a total of 67 first downs and a total offense aggregate of 1,507 yards.
The breakdown: West Virginia 807 yards and Baylor an even 700 yards.
All the while, ironically, each team’s defensive unit was having a miserable afternoon. Both certainly need to get a lot better soon.
Geno Smith, WVU’s best-ever quarterback, enjoyed a record-crashing performance. He completed 45 of 51 passes for 656 yards and unheard of (until now) eight touchdowns.
He still hasn’t thrown an interception.
Another rarity is that WVU had three double-digit receivers.
Tavon Austin caught 14 passes for 213 yards and two TDs, Stedman Bailey 13 for 303 yards and five scores and J.D. Woods 13 for 113 yards and one TD.
It also was refreshing to see West Virginia with an effective rushing attack.
Andrew Buie carried 25 times for 87 yards, Smith five times for 34 yards and Dustin Garrison three times for 28 yards.
Baylor quarterback Nick Florence connected on 29 of 41 passes for 581 yards and five touchdowns. Terrance Williams was his top receiver with 17 catches for 314 yards and two scores.
Freshman Isaiah Bruce remains WVU’s leading tackler. He added a game-high 13 to the 30 he made in the first three games.
Each team had to punt just twice. That’s indicative of free-wheeling offense, of course.
Dana Holgorsen, WVU’s second-year head coach, obviously was happy with the offense, but emphasized that the defense must get somewhat better.
“I congratulated our team for being 4-0 and 1-0 in the conference,” he said, and he also congratulated Baylor for the way it played offensively.
“We had an opportunity to shut them down three or four times and didn’t.”
But he added, “Not every Big 12 football game is like this. Not every coach’s offense is like this. Not every game is going to be like this obviously.”
West Virginia plays its first conference road game Saturday at Texas.