[countdown id=”470″ show_venue=”1″ show_league=”1″ align=”none”]
|Points Per Game||39.0||29.9|
|Points Allowed Per Game||29.2||21.9|
|Pass Yards Allowed||245.3||252.3|
|Rush Yards Allowed||191.1||115.0|
The first game between West Virginia and Texas, dates back to October 6th, 1956 with the Mountaineers winning 7-6. West Virginia leads the all-time series 4-2 and 3-2 since joining the Big XII. The series has been tight since joining the Big XII. The average score between the two programs has been West Virginia 33.2 – Texas 33.0.
First year Head Coach Tom Herman brings his Texas Longhorns into Morgantown at 5-5 and 4-3 in the conference, looking to get bowl eligible and spoiling any chance the Mountaineers have at heading to the Big XII title game.
Texas has improved every week, since that surprising loss to Maryland at home in the first game of the season. The biggest improvement has been on the defensive side of the ball.
Longhorns defensive coordinator Tony Orlando runs a 3-3-5 defensive scheme and depending on the situation the 3-4, but facing West Virginia quarterback Will Grier they are likely to use a lot of the 3-3-5. This defensive approach ranks them second in the conference in total defense (367.3), rush defense, (115), interceptions (13), sacks (25) and scoring defense (21.9).
Grier will face off against the Big XII’s leader in interceptions, Safety Deshon Elliot (6), returning two of them for touchdowns, and leads the league in forced fumbles (3).
Linebacker Malik Jefferson leads the Texas defense in tackles (93), tackles for loss (10) and sacks (4).
Cornerback Kris Boyd has been solid on the outside this season, look for the Mountaineers to work the opposite side of the field from Boyd and take advantage of the absent Holton Hill, that is out due to a suspension. Davante Davis will try to hold down the vacancy of Hill.
The daunting front seven of the Longhorns all starts up front and they have three defensive ends that they rotate in to chase down Grier. Charles Omenihu, Malcom Roach and Breckyn Hagar have combined for 9 sacks on the year.
The weakness has been the offense for the Longhorns, which has been a bit of surprise under the new direction of head coach Tom Herman and offensive coordinator Tim Beck. Herman has been known for his high-powered offensives, most notably, serving under Ohio State head coach Urban Myer as offensive coordinator, then moving on to become the head coach at Houston, were he made quarterback Greg Ward a household name.
Most of the struggles for the Texas offense had been due to injuries and both quarterbacks Shane Buechele and Sam Ehlinger have suffered injuries throughout the season, causing the offense to never find any rhythm. Look for Buechelle to start the game, but if he cannot get the offense going, Ehlinger may come in to provide a spark for the offense.
Left tackle Connor Williams is due back this weekend from an MCL sprain he suffered early in the season. Although he is talented, he has missed a lot of time and generally players don’t perform at a high level in their first game back from injury. This will still help an offensive line that had question marks at the beginning of the season and has not performed at a high level during the season.
Texas has four running backs they will rotate throughout the game, but their work horse has been Chris Warren. Kyle Porter will most likely start the game and look for Freshmen Toneil Carter and Daniel Young.
Wide Receiver Colin Johnson will try to open the field up on the outside with his speed and his size, while Reggie Hemphill-Mapps and Lil’Jordan Humphrey will work the middle of the field.
West Virginia turned the ball over 4 times last week against Kansas State, but still found a way to win after losing the turnover battle (-2). They will not continue to survive if they turn the ball over, the Mountaineers must take care of the ball this weekend.
The big reason they walked out of Manhattan with a win was Tony Gibson and his defense. They were put into some tough situations, but made plays to keep the Mountaineers in the game, only giving up 3 points off those turnovers.
The offensive line will be tested this week against arguably the best front seven in the conference. They answered the call against Iowa State just two weeks ago and I think they handle the Longhorns this weekend.
It’s Senior day and I expect emotions to be running a little high for the Mountaineers and I believe Justin Crawford will have one of his best games of the year and Ka’Raun White to continue his dominance on the outside.
This will be a physical game, much like the previous two games have been for the Mountaineers.
This Mountaineer team continues to pull together and finding ways to win late in the year and I don’t think this one will be any different.
West Virginia is due for a big game and I think they put one together against the best 5-5 team in the country, by getting the running game going and Will Grier finding the holes in the Longhorn secondary.
West Virginia wins 34-13.