Texas is not to be prounced dead just yet. An improbable but much-needed overtime win over Oklahoma State keeps the Longhorns in the thick of the Big 12 Championship Game race. Seriously, Texas should not have won that game. It had a 3% win expectancy, the lowest of the season. But, if four turnovers and a special teams touchdown won’t sway the outcome of a game, what will? And so it goes. Watch Free!
Now ranked at No. 22, Texas returns home to face West Virginia. The Mountaineers have actually been a thorn in Texas’ side over the years — at least in Austin, where the Horns are 1-3 at DKR against the Mountaineers since they joined the Big 12. Texas needs to beat West Virginia to stay afloat, though, because the final two games — vs. Iowa State and at Kansas State — are likely to determine whether it can rally for a trip to Arlington.
West Virginia is coming off its most complete win of the Neal Brown era over Kansas State. They didn’t shoot themselves in the foot, at least with the same vigor, and found some rhythm on offense. Now comes the next part: can they do it twice in a row? If so, West Virginia has a good chance to pull the outright upset. That would plant the seed in people’s minds that this team could finish above .500, which would be a massive deal in Year 0.5 for Brown. Odds via William Hill Sportsbook
Texas: It wasn’t the story of the game, but Texas’ rushing attack took a nice step forward against Oklahoma State. Bijan Robinson and Roschon Johnson combined for 108 yards on just 22 carries — that’s almost five yards a pop. Given the Longhorns’ struggles running the ball outside of quarterback Sam Ehlinger, this was a positive development. Now Texas runs right into the teeth of a top-10 rush defense. West Virginia has a legit defensive line and allows fewer than three yards per attempt. If Texas can run the ball at least somewhat effectively, especially on the perimeter, it has a leg up.
West Virginia: It wasn’t just that West Virginia played well against K-State. It had its best offensive output of 2020, adjusted for competition. The Mountaineers had an offensive success rate of 54.5% — by far the best percentage against FBS competition. The biggest reason is because the passing game worked great. The Mountaineers had a season high in passes that went for a first down or touchdown (63.6%) while suffering only one drop. West Virginia typically likes to win ugly, but against an opponent capable of scoring lots of points (especially late), this offense needs two good games in a row.
Date: Saturday, Nov. 7 | Time: Noon ET
Location: DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium — Austin, Texas
TV: ABC | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Game prediction, picks
The touchdown line is tricky since a push is very much on the table. Another key for West Virginia will be avoiding turnovers or any kind of poor field position that would give Texas hidden yards at the same clip it got against Oklahoma State. West Virginia’s offense hasn’t traveled well this year. Otherwise, the Mountaineers’ defense can hold up. But since both of these teams love making mistakes, that keeps this game within grasp. I’ll take the points. Pick: West Virginia +6.5