The 15th-ranked (AP) Texas Longhorns welcome the 12th-ranked (AP) West Virginia Mountaineers on Saturday in Austin. This is a pivotal Big 12 conference matchup, where the winner will have markedly increased their chances to appear in the conference title game at year’s end. Last year, Texas went up to Morgantown and knocked off a ranked West Virginia team. With the stakes this high and revenge certainly on the mind for WV, this could turn into another classic showdown. Let’s take a look at some keys and factors for this game.
Texas secondary vs West Virginia passing attack
Arguably the most important matchup of this game will be the Texas DBs vs the trio of West Virginia WRs. Led by junior receiver, David Sills, the Mountaineers have three receivers with at least 500 receiving yards. Texas will be tasked with slowing down a passing offense that ranks ninth in the country, averaging 331.3 YPG through the air. If QB Will Grier has time to pick his spots, it could be a long day for UT.
Can Texas keep up?
Much like in the circumstances heading into the Red River Rivalry game, Texas will have to score consistently to win. In that game, they put up 48 points and pulled out a victory. West Virginia scores about 40 points a game (39.9 PPG, 17th in the country), so it’s not far-fetched to say the Longhorns will need another 40 to win on Saturday. Another thing that Texas cannot afford is a slow start. Last week, they got down early to Oklahoma State and couldn’t complete the comeback. Playing at home, the crowd has to be a factor, and the only way that can happen is if the game is competitive.
Kill the clock
One way to keep West Virginia from lighting up the scoreboard: keep them off the field. In order to do that, the running game for Texas has to be on point. RBs Keontay Ingram and Tre Watson, along with QB Sam Ehlinger, will be key. Churning out yards on the ground will wear down the defense later in the game. West Virginia’s rush defense isn’t poor (34th in the country, 132.9 YPG), so it will take a strong game from the offensive line to get the job done. Texas must avoid penalties (especially pre-snap) to keep them from long down distances that will force them into passing situations.
(All stats provided by cfbstats)