MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- West Virginia's move into the Big 12 Conference was accompanied by promises that the Mountaineers would play and welcome the best teams, flashiest offenses and top players.
WVU will follow through Saturday and supply the superlative when the ninth-ranked Mountaineers play their first Big 12 game.
There is a twist. The opponent in Saturday's game at Mountaineer Field (noon, FX telecast) is not Kansas State, now the top-ranked team in the league, or Oklahoma State, with the nation's No. 1 offense, or even Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones, the Big 12's marquee offensive opponent.
Say hello to the NCAA's leader in total offense, Baylor quarterback Nick Florence.
"I think he's been just exactly what we thought we'd get out of him," Bears Coach Art Briles said. "By our estimation, and statistically, he's been very, very productive and he's done exactly what he's been asked to do in his unselfish manner."
The senior from Garland, Texas, leads the country with an average of 387.7 yards per game (354.7 passing, 53 rushing) and has led the 25th-ranked Bears to a 3-0 start after losing Heisman Trophy quarterback Robert Griffin III to the NFL.
This isn't the first time - or even the second - Florence has had to replace Griffin, though. Griffin tore his right ACL in 2009 and Florence started the final seven games. Last year, with Griffin established, Florence was scheduled to redshirt and regain the starting position as a junior this season.
That plan went awry in the 11th game of the season. Griffin slid late in the first half, but was hit up high and suffered a concussion. The Bears were up just 31-28 at the half and decided to play the unselfish Florence.
"It was unexpected in the sense Rob got hurt and no one expected that, but before the year started we talked about redshirting and said if worst comes to worst and something happens, then I'll probably go in," Florence said. "We were trying to get through the year and we got through most of the year, but then it happened. But that was a big game for us. We needed to win that game to get to 10 wins."
Florence played admirably in relief, completing 9 of 12 passes for 151 yards and two touchdowns as the Bears rolled and won 66-42. It gave Baylor an 8-3 record and its first eight-win season since 1991. Before the season, Baylor's players talked about a 10-win season and the win against the Red Raiders kept everything on track as the team aimed for a bid in the Cotton or Alamo Bowl.
Griffin returned the next week and the Bears won the last two games, including the Alamo Bowl against Washington.
"It was a big deal to have a winning season," Florence said. "When I first got here, we won four games. Then we won (three) more and made it to a bowl game. Now we win a bowl game and get 10 wins. The goal now is a Big 12 championship.