West Virginia eager to get started in Big 12

Associated Press Modified: September 23, 2012 at 12:33 pm •  Published: September 23, 2012
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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — It's the week West Virginia has been waiting for.

After three double-digit wins in nonconference play, the ninth-ranked Mountaineers now turn to their Big 12 debut against No. 25 Baylor.

"It's a new season, man," said West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith. "It's all about the conference."

Next Saturday, it will be all about lighting up the scoreboard. Baylor is averaging 51 points a game, the Mountaineers 47.

It's been 11 months since West Virginia announced it was leaving the Big East, but the move didn't become official until the school settled a lawsuit with its former conference in February.

Baylor's visit to Morgantown starts a round of introductions. West Virginia (3-0) has never played the Bears (3-0) in football, and not much against other current Big 12 members, either. The Mountaineers are 9-4 against them dating to 1928.

In the weeks to come West Virginia will head to the road and find out about Texas' "hook'em horns," Oklahoma State's Pistol Pete and Texas Tech's Raider Red.

And Big 12 fans will learn a lot more about Smith, a Heisman Trophy hopeful who's surrounded by star receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey and a coaching staff already familiar with the conference.

"I know that I speak for my team and the fans, we're very excited," Bailey said. "We know that we'll be facing a lot of challenges going into the Big 12."

The first time that coach Dana Holgorsen brought up the Big 12 to his players was after West Virginia's 31-21 win over Maryland on Saturday.

Despite some hiccups, Holgorsen likes where his team is at.

"I've got a bunch of guys who like to play football and understand what's at stake," he said. "They like to play, they enjoy each other and I think that we are a real close team and getting tighter by the week. They understand what we have to do to get better and we'll go back to work and get ready for Baylor."



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