WACO — The scoreboard lit up again, records fell again, and starters barely played in the second half again — only this one counted in the standings.
Yet after its latest statement, a 73-42 whipping of West Virginia that wasn’t as close as the final score, No. 17 Baylor was mostly tired of making statements for its supposed critics.
“I always feel that Baylor’s a ‘but’ team,” junior quarterback Bryce Petty said after leading his team to its first 4-0 start since 1991. “And I say that because people say, ‘Baylor’s good, but…Baylor scores points, but…Baylor beat this team, but...’
“And you know what, that’s good because it puts a chip on our shoulder.”
No one can question the Bears offense after putting up a school-record 73 points and a Big 12 record 864 yards to top the 807 the Bears allowed to West Virginia in a loss last year.
Former Temple standout Lache Seastrunk dazzled again, with 180 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries, while Petty finished 17 of 25 for 347 yards, 170 of which went to Antwan Goodley on seven catches, all in the first half.
Seastrunk didn’t play in the second half, and Petty played just one series in the second half, an 11-play scoring drive that put Baylor up 63-21 with 9:36 remaining in the third.
Yet the Bears (4-0, 1-0 in Big 12) still weren’t happy with the 28 points they allowed in the second half, which they know will give ammunition to their hard-to-please critics.
“We know that we have to make a statement this year as far as our defense goes … to get the national respect that we deserve because our offense is going to carry their load,” safety Ahmad Dixon said, “We just have to carry our load.”
But the defense did carry its load in the first half, holding the Mountaineer (3-3, 1-2) offense to just seven points.
The offense, meanwhile, was just as lethal as it was in its first three games, as Baylor took a 28-7 lead after one quarter while piling up 369 yards in the first — the most by any team in a single quarter in the last 10 years.
The Bears weren’t done there, scoring four touchdowns in the second quarter to go into the half with a 56-14 lead and a total of 617 yards — the most in a single half in program history.
In the first indicator that West Virginia was going to fare no better than the Bears’ nonconference foes, Baylor need just 40 seconds to score the first points of the game on a 61-yard pass from Petty to an untouched Goodley. It took the Bears 31 seconds to score against ULM two weeks earlier.
Up 21-7 after a one-play drive on a great juggling catch by Temple product Tevin Reese, Seastrunk followed with a one-play drive of his own on an 80-yard burst up the sideline.
The highlight-reel run was one of seven plays of 20 or more yards by Baylor in the first half. The Bears had nearly as many explosive plays (7) as they did third downs in the half (8).
With a considerable lead after one quarter, Baylor punished West Virginia for 105 yards rushing and four touchdowns in the second, including a 13-yarder by Shock Linwood that made it 56-14 with 1:04 to play in the half.
Baylor coach Art Briles said the team decided to judge its performance by the first half but also added that it was a bit early for anyone to judge the identity of his football team.
“You’re not going to date somebody three times and say, 'Will you marry me,'” Briles said. “You’re going to hang around a while and try to get to know them and see if it’s really a match.
“I think we’ve still got to see where we’re at before we judge ourselves,” Briles said.
And perhaps Briles is right.
After all, it is hard to judge a team whose starters have yet to play a snap in the fourth quarter.