Monday, November 4, 2013
First glance: West Virginia Mountaineers
By Max Olson
A look ahead at Texas’ next road opponent, West Virginia. The Longhorns travel to Morgantown, W.V., to face the Mountaineers on Saturday at 6 p.m. CT.
2013 record: 4-5 (2-4 Big 12)
All-time record vs. Texas: 2-0
Last game: West Virginia nabbed a must-needed home win over TCU, 30-27, when Josh Lambert nailed a 35-yard field goal in overtime. WVU rallied with 17 straight points in the fourth quarter, then gave up a 10-point lead in the final seven minutes to go to OT. Its defense made multiple key stops and forced four Horned Frog turnovers to pick up a fourth win. With Kansas and Iowa State left on the schedule after this weekend, Dana Holgorsen has a solid chance of taking his team bowling if it takes care of business.
Last meeting with Texas: The then-No. 8 Mountaineers came to Austin last October and won a 48-45 shootout thanks to an overwhelming collection of offensive talent. Geno Smith threw four touchdowns, Andrew Buie rushed for 207 and two scores and Tavon Austin (222 all-purpose yards) blew away a porous Longhorn defense. And yet, then-No. 11 Texas had a real chance to win, but missed its opportunity on a bad third-down snap and missed Anthony Fera field goal.
Key player: All of the stars of the 2012 offense that tore up Texas are gone, but West Virginia still has a few weapons worth keeping an eye on. The best of the bunch is running back Charles Sims, a Houston transfer who has 1,054 total yards (754 rushing, 300 receiving) and seven touchdowns this season and paced the win over TCU with 154 rushing yards on a season-high 24 carries.
Why West Virginia might win: Is West Virginia more fairly judged by its good wins or its bad losses? Hard to tell right now. The Mountaineers pull a big upset of Oklahoma State and knock off TCU on the road. They got stomped by Baylor, Kansas State and Maryland. They play Texas Tech close. This is an inconsistent team but one that’s definitely capable of winning if Texas doesn’t play with the kind of energy it’s demonstrated during its five-game streak. Any team left on the schedule can beat these Longhorns.
Why West Virginia might lose: Texas is rolling and is ready for its Big 12 title run. If Baylor takes care of Oklahoma on Thursday, the Longhorns are potentially looking at a three-team race with the Bears and OSU. Texas controls its destiny right now and, for that reason, isn’t going to overlook WVU. If the Longhorn continues to play like one of the Big 12’s best and can stifle Sims, this should be a win.