Key Matchups: vs. No. 24 West Virginia

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Quarterback

Advantage: West Virginia 

Even against lowly Kansas, the Longhorns underwhelmed. Sophomore quarterback Shane Buechele threw for a respectable 249 yards and a touchdown, but Texas only had 10 more passing yards than the worst offense in the conference, as it once again leaned heavily on its defense to force turnovers and get stops. 

Junior quarterback Will Grier leads an offense capable of scoring in bursts — a fact on full display as the Mountaineers put up 28 points in the first half on four Grier touchdowns last Saturday against Kansas State. However, the team went scoreless after halftime, converting on only 3 of 12 first down opportunities. If the Longhorns can stall out the West Virginia offense, they may be able to scrape by with a win on the road. 

Running Back

Advantage: West Virginia 

Texas was outgained on the ground against Kansas with freshman running back Daniel Young logging a team-high 67 yards on 21 carries. The long-awaited return of junior All-American offensive lineman Connor Williams to the lineup ought to help the offense’s productivity, but it is clear that the running game remains one of the team’s weakest areas. 

West Virginia’s senior running back Justin Crawford has eclipsed 100 yards in all but three games this season. The Mountaineers have used him well, forcing defenses to respect the run enough to provide space for Grier to launch it deep. Expect the team to go to the run early and often in the face of a talented Texas secondary. 

Wide Receiver

Advantage: West Virginia 

Senior wide receiver Lorenzo Joe needed all of nine seconds to get on the board last Saturday against Kansas. He finished with 98 yards on five touches and was part of the first-half onslaught that helped Texas put the game away early at home. 

West Virginia has demonstrated the ability to burn teams deep with its talented quarterback and receiving corps. Junior David Sills V and senior Ka’Raun White each had two touchdowns in the win against Kansas State, but struggled to create separation through most of the second half. 

Defense

Advantage: Texas

Texas’ defense feasts on turnovers. The team has put up 79 points off its 18 turnovers this season, six of which have come from junior DeShon Elliott. It’s been a tale of two sides of the ball all season for the burnt orange. In five losses, the defense has been a liability in only one of them. 

West Virginia boasts the second-best passing defense in the conference. That doesn’t bode well for a Texas team that has shown an inability to get it done up the middle through 10 games this season.