Offensive matchups

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Quarterback
     
No collegiate quarterback has been as dominant as West Virginia’s Geno Smith. A Heisman favorite, Smith has thrown for an FBS-high 20 touchdown passes without an interception. His passer rating of 208.4 leads college football, as does his completion percentage of 83.4. David Ash is off to a fine start for the Longhorns and came up big in their game-winning drive against Oklahoma State last week, but right now, nobody at the quarterback position can compare to Smith.

Advantage: West Virginia

 

Running backs

The Longhorns will be without Malcolm Brown, their second leading rusher, because of an ankle sprain, but they should have no shortage of productive players to fill in at the position. Joe Bergeron has emerged as a workhorse for Texas and he leads the team through four games with 255 rushing yards and five touchdowns. Freshman Johnathan Gray has also impressed in limited action, rushing for 157 yards on 33 carries, and he should have a major impact in this week’s game as well. West Virginia’s running game is solid yet unspectacular, averaging 5.1 yards per carry and scoring seven touchdowns on the ground, but the Mountaineers have rushed for nearly 300 yards fewer than Texas’ backs.

Advantage: University of Texas

 


Wide receivers

The Texas wide receivers performed very well against Oklahoma State last week, hauling in 30 catches for more than 300 yards in the game. Jaxon Shipley, who made three touchdown grabs, and Mike Davis, whose critical fourth-quarter catch set up a game-winning touchdown, were especially impressive. That said, no Texas receiver has more than 17 catches this season, a total that three Mountaineers have far surpassed. Stedman Bailey has been a major big-play threat this season, catching 41 passes already for 635 yards and 10 touchdowns. Tavon Austin is just as dangerous for West Virginia and he leads the team with 48 catches and is second with 560 yards and seven scores.

Advantage: West Virginia

 


Offensive line

West Virginia has been one of college football’s most highly-praised offenses this season, averaging 53.0 points per game and 598.5 yards per game, which are both good for third in the nation. This is due in large part to the strong play of the Mountaineers’ offensive line, as Geno Smith and the rest of the offense have had plenty of time to make big plays. The offense is really without weakness because of this, as Smith is averaging 10.23 yards per pass and the team is rushing for an average of 5.1 yards. Texas’ team totals of 8.93 yards per pass and 5.2 yards per rush are quite impressive, but few can match the efficiency of the Mountaineers. This has everything to do with their offensive line.

Advantage: West Virginia