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Texas vs. West Virginia Game Preview

Photo: USA TODAY Sports

Longhorns last won in Morgantown in 2013 under head former head coach Mack Brown

Texas and West Virginia have played 5 times since the Mountaineers joined the Big 12, with West Virginia edging the overall series 3-2. The Longhorns will be looking for their first win against Dana Holgorsen’s team since 2014, which was former head coach Charlie Strong’s first season at the helm.

But things have changed significantly since then. The Longhorns are now led by first-year coach Tom Herman, but the ‘Horns now find themselves in a similar position as they did under Strong; fighting for a bowl game. What’s significant about the 2014 season, is that 3 years ago this winter was the last time Texas made a bowl game. And with 2 games left on the schedule, one on the road and one at home, the Longhorns (5-5) must find a way to win at least one if they wish to keep their bowl aspirations alive.

West Virginia, on the other hand, is sitting pretty. The Mountaineers are 7-3 overall but more importantly 5-2 in conference play. Why is that important? The Mountaineers have only two games left as well, this Saturday against the Longhorns and next weekend against the Sooners. Dana Holgorsen and his squad would share the Big 12 crown if they were they to win out, so expect the Mountaineers will give it everything they’ve got on Saturday in Morgantown.

Starting tackle Connor Williams, who suffered MCL and PCL tears in his left knee, along with a meniscus tear, may make his first start since going down in the loss to USC on Sep. 16. He dressed for the win against the Jayhawks last week but did not play. His addition to an under-performing offensive line is crucial for Texas, which has averaged just under 3.5 yards per carry, which is good for 2nd to last in the Big 12. This Texas offensive line has been patched together and is in desperate need of an anchor like Williams.

The Mountaineers come into the game with one of the most powerful offenses in the Big 12, led by WVU QB Will Grier. Grier has completed 64% of his passes, making him one of the top quarterbacks in the nation. That, combined with his almost 3 to 1 TD to INT ratio (34 TDs compared to 12 INTs) and his average of 352 yards passing per game, again proves that Grier is having a dominant season after sitting out last year due to transfer rules (Grier started at Florida in 2015).

Texas’s offense has been wildly inconsistent, largely in part due to the offense live play. This is best exemplified by the glaring statistic which shows the Longhorns have scored 10 points or less in 3 of their last 4 contests. The Kansas game withstanding, Texas hasn’t been able to move the ball in consistent drives, punting the ball on many occasions. Thankfully enough for Texas their best weapon is punter Michael Dickson, who kicked a 76-yarder versus TCU.

West Virginia and their potent offense may prove to be too much for the Longhorns again, and the Mountaineers may have the longest win streak of the series at 3 games once this match-up has concluded.

If this game proves to be another great contest between these two teams, expect West Virginia to be a rival for years to come.

West Virginia hosts Texas on Saturday morning at 11 A.M. CT on ESPN in Morgantown, West Virginia at Milan Puskar Stadium.

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Ross Labenske is a student at the University of Texas studying journalism with a focus in sports. He graduated from Allen High School and has a passion for his hometown teams in the Dallas area; the Mavericks, Rangers, and first and foremost, the Dallas Cowboys.

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