West Virginia never trailed for the game's final 34:54, but also never felt safe. Consider that the Mountaineers took their first lead at 35-28 on a 2-yard fade pass from Smith to Bailey with just 29 seconds to play in the first half, but couldn't even hold that. Baylor quarterback Nick Florence (he of the 581 yards and five TDs on 29-of-47 passing) simply went out and threw a 67-yard touchdown to Lanear Sampson. Bingo, it's 35-35 at the break, prompting Baylor coach Art Briles to say in a TV interview running off the field that it was a 0-0 ballgame again.
Well, not quite.
And not even when West Virginia opened up a three-touchdown lead, 56-35, in the third quarter did a lead even feel semi-comfortable. All it took was Baylor forcing one three-and-out by the WVU offense and the Bears were able to score three of the next four touchdowns and make it 63-56 with still almost 11 minutes to play.
But that would be it because never again was either offense stopped. West Virginia made it 70-56 when Smith hit Bailey with a 39-yard touchdown pass after running five minutes off the clock. Baylor countered with a 10-play drive and a Florence TD pass to Terrance Williams (his 17th catch and 314th yard) to make it 70-63.
But with 3:08 left, Briles made perhaps a fatal error in judgment. On the way to allowing 807 yards and 10 touchdowns, he gambled that his defense - armed with three timeouts - could stop West Virginia one time and get the ball back, so he eschewed an on-side kick.
"If you do it there and don't get it, then basically the game is over,'' Briles said. "You play percentages. We played percentages there and it didn't work out.''
It didn't because J.D. Woods (career highs with 13 catches for 114 yards) made a spectacular one-handed grab of what Smith admitted was his worst pass of the day for one first down, then Garrison converted the third down shortly thereafter to seal the win.
And so a crowd of 60,012 - almost all of whom stayed to the end - went home happy. They had come to see an explosion of offense and saw even more than they bargained for. For the record, it was the highest-scoring game ever between two Top 25 teams and even the most points ever produced in a game involving even one Top 25 team, according the footballgeography.com
While it would be wise to get accustomed to the culture of such a shootout because they happen all the time in West Virginia's new conference, Holgorsen warned not to expect quite this level of offensive insanity each week. It's not likely to happen when the Mountaineers next play Saturday night at No. 12 Texas.
"I've been in this league going on 10 years now and it's the culture of the Big 12, but not everyone is like this,'' Holgorsen said. "It will be different next week. Texas has an unbelievable defense.''
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.