3 things to know about Bryce Petty, the third straight great Baylor QB

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Baylor's star takes the national spotlight Thursday night, but who is Bryce Petty?

1. He helped orchestrate the destruction of West Virginia football

It was quick, as everything Baylor does is, but it was certainly not painless.

Baylor won the game 73-42 after putting on the brakes in the second half. At halftime the score was 56-14, and the Bears had put up 617 yards of total offense (the game ended with Baylor putting up a Big 12-record 864 total yards).

Petty helped lead the way for Baylor, completing 17 of 25 passes for 347 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for a score, single-handedly outscoring the Mountaineers in the first half.

As a result of this game, West Virginia no longer plays football -- you may have been led to believe that they have since lost to Texas Tech and Kansas State before beating TCU, but there is no evidence to prove this, as you did not watch any of these "games."

And let's not even talk about what Petty did to Kansas.

2. He's really, really smart.

Petty is a five-time member of the Big 12 Commissioner's honor roll, and graduated in May 2013 with a degree in health science studies. That's right -- Petty played football for Baylor and managed to graduate before his junior year. Granted, one of those was a redshirt season, but graduating in three years while dealing with the demands (both in time and energy) of playing top-level football is an incredible achievement.

It's shown on the field, as well -- Petty has excelled in his reads on option plays with star running back Lache Seastrunk, and has shown an ability to keep track of his targets, spreading the ball around to multiple receivers.

3. Oh, right -- he's a first-year starter, and may be the best QB in the country.

Baylor underwent a fairly smooth transition from Heisman-winner Robert Griffin III to Nick Florence last year, a senior who had 43 total touchdowns in 2012. With the offensive weapons Baylor had in place, much was expected of Petty, a junior who showed some promise as Florence's backup, but it's hard to think even the most optimistic Baylor fan could have imagined this.

Through six games (which, realistically, is more like three-and-a-half, considering he was pulled soon after halftime in all but one of the Bears' wins), Petty is averaging 13.9 yards per attempt, with 24 total touchdowns against just one interception. He's fourth in the country in yards per game, behind Oregon State's Sean Mannion, Fresno State's Derek Carr, and SMU's Garrett Gilbert -- all of whom have had the advantage of playing through the fourth quarter (or more) in most of their games.

He leads the nation in yards per attempt, and it's not particularly close. Only six quarterbacks in the country average 10 yards per throw, and but the next closest to Petty's 13.9? Florida State's Jameis Winston, at 11.8. Petty's 219.01 quarterback rating is also by the far the best in the nation, ahead of Winston's 201.12. And that time Baylor kinda sorta struggled against Kansas State? Petty completed 12 of 21 passes for 332 yards (an outrageous 15.8 yards per attempt) and three touchdowns. Petty's QBR this season is actually the best since 2009 -- better than Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson or Marcus Mariota.

All of this has led Baylor to have another Heisman contender. In the latest odds released by Bovada, Petty is given 28:1 to win the prestigious award -- behind just Mariota, Winston, Johnny Manziel and A.J. McCarron. And Thursday could be his breakout night.

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