Texas Wins If
West Virginia has been the surprise of the Big 12 this season. The squad has lost only one game, and has performed like one of the more well-rounded teams in the conference. The one-loss Mountaineers currently lead the Big 12 in scoring defense, and are fourth in total offense.
In finding a way to beat West Virginia, it’s useful to look at the team’s defeat against Oklahoma State. The Cowboys forced senior quarterback Skyler Howard into three turnovers, including two costly second half interceptions. Howard was also limited to his lowest passing yardage of the season, finishing with 212 yards.
In the five games in which Howard has turned the ball over this year, the Mountaineers have only outscored opponents by a combined 19 points. In the other three games, West Virginia has won by an average of 27 points.
The Longhorns win if they make Howard uncomfortable and force him into bad decisions. West Virginia goes where its quarterback does, and forcing him into turnovers would go a long way towards a Texas victory.
After struggling early in the season to generate takeaways, the Longhorns have thrived in that category as of late. The defense has forced seven turnovers over its last three outings, and came away with a game-clinching interception in last weekend’s game against Texas Tech. If the unit can continue this trend, then Texas will beat West Virginia.
Texas Loses If
Texas has won three of its past four games, and junior running back D’onta Foreman is a huge reason for that. The back averaged 242 yards in the three victories, and accounted for six touchdowns. Just as West Virginia heavily relies on its quarterback, the Longhorns count on their stud running back to carry the offense.
Texas loses if Foreman can’t keep up his current level of production. Foreman has passed the century mark on the ground during every game this year, but an off game could spell doom for the Longhorns.
West Virginia has one of the best run stopping units in the conference, limiting opponents to less than 150 rushing yards per game. In recent weeks, the Mountaineers have held Oklahoma State’s Justice Hill and TCU’s Kyle Hicks largely in check. While these backs aren’t Foreman-caliber, they have had impressive seasons nonetheless.
If the Mountaineers can bottle up Foreman, added pressure would be put on Texas’ freshman quarterback Shane Buechele. While Buechele has been solid all season, he’s yet to show that he can carry an offense by himself. He’s averaging less than 250 passing yards per game, and is yet to eclipse the 300 yard mark. If West Virginia can take away Foreman from the offense and Buechele is forced to air the ball out more than usual, then the Longhorns could be looking at defeat.