Big 12 notes: West Virginia taking big step with conference debut

Posted Monday, Sep. 24, 2012  comments  Print Reprints
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Big 12 players of the week

Offense: WR Tavon Austin, West Virginia: Matched a school record set a week earlier by Stedman Bailey with 13 receptions in a game and became the Mountaineers' career receptions leader with 208. His 179 yards receiving was the second-most of his career, and his three touchdown catches of 44, 24 and 34 yards helped beat Maryland 31-21.

Defense: LB Kenny Cain, TCU: The senior had two interceptions and recovered a fumble as the Horned Frogs beat Virginia 27-7. Cain is the first TCU linebacker with two interceptions in a game since 1999.

Special teams: P Ryan Doerr, Kansas State: All five of his punts were downed inside Oklahoma's 20-yard line, including two inside the 10, as the Wildcats beat the Sooners 24-19 in Norman.

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The excitement has been building at West Virginia since its move to the Big 12 was announced a year ago. A perfect start has fans of the ninth-ranked Mountaineers even more stoked as they make it official this weekend with their league opener against Baylor at 11 a.m. Saturday in Morgantown, W.Va.

"It's finally here," Mountaineers coach Dana Holgorsen said. "There's a lot of anticipation, not only in the state of West Virginia, but across the country. So there will be a lot of eyes on us. We've had that situation before and I've got a program that's pretty established and is used to winning and in the national spotlight. I don't think we'll allow it to become a distraction."

West Virginia's offense, as expected, has been putting up eye-popping numbers with quarterback Geno Smith and receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey. All three are near the top nationally in statistics. Austin leads the country with 11.3 receptions a game and Bailey is third with 9.3. Smith, a Heisman Trophy candidate, is second in the nation in total offense with 379.7 yards a game.

Baylor coach Art Briles and Holgorsen were Texas Tech assistants in 2000.

"His attention to detail is very strong," Briles said. "He has a good grasp of defenses and personnel and his own personnel. He's always been around winning programs."

No. 25 Baylor (3-0) has the nation's sixth-best offense with nearly 570 yards a game. West Virginia (3-0) is 14th with 529 yards a game.

"Any time you spread the ball around and try to play with some tempo, there's going to be some similarities," Holgorsen said.

"We're not bad on offense, but from a statistical standpoint Baylor is doing some things better than we are. If you think we're just going to shut them down, you're nuts."

Lunt improving

Oklahoma State quarterback Wes Lunt, who was injured two weeks ago, is doing better, according to coach Mike Gundy, whose Cowboys (2-1) host No. 12 Texas (3-0) on Saturday.

"He'll be in a boot going to class and then take it off for practice," Gundy said.

Gundy said the offensive game plan can't change based on whether it's Lunt or former Denton Guyer star J.W. Walsh at quarterback.

"I know there's variation in their ability, but we have to run our plays and think what's best for J.W.," he said.

Texas coach Mack Brown sees little drop-off in the Cowboys' talent from last year when Oklahoma State won in Austin 38-26.

"You prepare for their running game anyway because Oklahoma State is running the ball so much better than ever before," Brown said. "We knew J.W. Walsh from high school; he's a very good quarterback. J.W. can give you a dual threat. He's tough, a coach's kid. He can beat you with his arm or his feet."

Oct. 6 games set

The Big 12 announced Oct. 6 game times and television information. TCU hosts Iowa State at 2:30 p.m. on Fox Sports Net. Oklahoma at Texas Tech is also at 2:30 p.m. on WFAA/8, ESPN or ESPN2. West Virginia at Texas is at 6 p.m. on KDFW/4. Kansas is at Kansas State at 11 a.m. on FX.

Quotable

"I'm probably going to have to get back in the coaches' poll so I can get us down in the rankings." Kansas State coach Bill Snyder on the No. 7 ranking, best in the Big 12, and the team no longer being an underdog

Stefan Stevenson

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Twitter: @FollowtheFrogs

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