MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- So much for the race to 70.
The Baylor Bears struggled offensively -- scoring their lowest total since 2012 -- as West Virginia pulled off the upset 41-27. The loss greatly clouds No. 4 Baylor’s hopes for a spot in the College Football Playoff.
The Mountaineers pulled off the surprise performance in spite of losing their top two cornerbacks by the second quarter. Daryl Worley was lost due to a rib injury, while Terrell Chestnut appeared to suffer a head-related injury.
It didn’t seem to matter. Heisman hopeful Bryce Petty finished just 16-of-36 for 223 yards and two touchdowns.
With the win, the Mountaineers improved to 5-2 overall and 3-1 in the Big 12. Baylor is now 6-1 and 3-1.
How the game was won: Penalties hurt Baylor’s momentum, as it collected an unofficial tally of 18 for 215 yards. Pass interferences were plentiful and, between that and stops by West Virginia’s defense, Baylor just couldn’t spark a comeback like it did last week against TCU.
Game ball goes to: West Virginia’s defense. You can’t pin it on just the defensive line, linebackers or the secondary -- let alone a single player. The Bears averaged just 2.3 yards a rush, and the secondary stepped up despite losing both starting cornerbacks before halftime. The Mountaineers’ defense put in an overall strong performance, so they all deserve some recognition.
It was over when … WVU's Mario Alford caught a short pass over the middle in the fourth quarter and turned it into a 39-yard touchdown. That play -- at the 7:35 mark of the fourth quarter -- extended the Mountaineers’ lead to two touchdowns. Baylor just didn’t have the time or the momentum to spark a comeback.
What it means: West Virginia received some love in the polls last week, and it could find itself ranked Sunday after a strong win. The Mountaineers showed they can overcome mistakes -- they turned the ball over three times before halftime -- and that they can overcome adversity. This is a good team; it’s no pushover in the Big 12.
Playoff implication: Baylor’s road to the College Football Playoff is now far from a sure thing. Even if the Bears win out, there’s no guarantee they’ll get one of those four coveted spots. Baylor needs to have some convincing wins over Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Kansas State to reclaim some of its lost luster -- and it must hope for some losses by the nation’s top teams. There’s a lot of season left, but a lot has to happen now for Baylor to find its way back.
What’s next: Baylor has a bye next week before returning to action against Kansas on Nov. 1. West Virginia will have another tough test next Saturday when it plays No. 15 Oklahoma State.