WACO, Texas - Prior to the start of West Virginia's second-ever meeting with Big 12 Conference rival Baylor there were still questions surrounding the Bears' 3-0 start after blowout victories over Wofford, Buffalo and UL-Monroe.
However, it was the Mountaineers searching for answers following a 73-42 loss at Casey Floyd Stadium.
Junior quarterback Bryce Petty completed 17-of-25 attempts for 347 yards, two touchdowns and an interception and Heisman Trophy hopeful Lache Seastrunk rushed for 172 yards and a pair of scores on 15 carries as the Bears opened Big 12 play with a victory.
West Virginia head football coach Dana Holgorsen looks on against Baylor during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo)
The loss was most points surrendered a Mountaineer team in a loss since a 62-14 loss to Penn State in 1973.
After its first five games of the season West Virginia's often maligned defense a year ago was surrendering only 345.4 yards and 19.6 points per game. Those numbers meant little to No. 17 Baylor as the Bears' offense racked up more 600 and scored 56 points in the first half alone.
Conversely, WVU's offense under the leadership of Florida State transfer Clint Trickett, who completed 9-of-28 attempts for 161 yards and a touchdown, sputtered during the first 30 minutes of action amassing a measly 147 yards of total offense and nine first downs.
Baylor needed only 40 seconds to take the lead for good, as well as set the tone for the game, junior quarterback Bryce Petty connected with wide receiver Antwan Goodley for a 61-yard scoring pass as the hosts needed only three plays to march 75-yards for the opening six points. Senior Aaron Jones added the first of eight PATs in the first half for the 7-0 lead.
Mountaineer fans had a moment of celebration in the first half when sophomore defensive back Karl Joseph recovered a fumble in the end zone following a 40-yard punt by Nick O'Toole that was muffed by the Bears' return man at the BU 3 and rolled into the end zone where Joseph covered the loose ball for the six points. Freshman Josh Lambert added the PAT and there appeared to be some hope that West Virginia could pull off its second upset of a Top 25 team in two weeks.
That glimpse of hope quickly turned into a dark and gloomy cloud as Baylor regained the lead for good following a 11-play, 75-yard drive that culminated on a 3-yard run by Petty and a Jones PAT.
A 30-yard return by Wendell Smallwood on the ensuing kickoff gave the visitors good field position at the WV 41, but three plays later the old gold and blue found itself facing a fourth-and-2 at its own 49. Third year head coach Dana Holgorsen elected to gamble, but Dreamius Smith was thrown for a two-yard loss giving the Bears excellent field position at the Mountaineers' 47 with 6:25 still left in the opening quarter.
Petty needed only one play to tack on the third touchdown of the game as he hit senior Tevin Reese with a perfectly thrown ball just ahead of a Mountaineer defender and the 170-pound speedster did the rest on the 47-yard scoring toss.
The Bears, who play at Kansas State next Saturday, tallied one more score before the quarter's end on an 80-yard run by Lache Seastrunk and added four more scores in the final 19 minutes of the half on a pair of 2-yard runs by Glasco Martin, a 19-yard run by Seastrunk and a 13-yard run by reserve running back Shock Linwood with 1:04 left in the half.
West Virginia, which will have the week off before entertaining Texas Tech on Saturday, Oct. 19, finally got an offensive score when Trickett connected with junior college transfer Kevin White from 39-yards out with 5:49 showing on the clock.
It would be too little, too late, however, as West Virginia would go into the locker room trailing 56-14 at the intermission.
The Mountaineers took the second half kickoff and drove 75-yards in only four plays with Trickett connecting with White for a 39-yard touchdown with 13:15 on the clock. But, Baylor answered with a 1-yard run by reserve running back Devin Chafin that culminated a 12-play, 72-yard drive that was helped by a personal foul by the defense.
WVU, which dropped to 1-2 in Big 12 play and 3-3 overall, added three scores in the final 15 minutes against mainly reserves for the Bears.