No. 22 Texas set for tough matchup vs. West Virginia
No. 22 Texas will put a modest two-game winning streak and its recent return to national relevance on the line when it plays surprising West Virginia in a key Big 12 Conference game Saturday afternoon in Austin, Texas.
The Longhorns, who climbed into the top 10 in The Associated Press poll before back-to-back conference losses to TCU at home and to Oklahoma in four overtimes in Dallas, are back in the poll after a 41-34 overtime win at then-No. 6 Oklahoma State last week.
The Mountaineers head to Austin off a dominating 37-10 home victory over then-16th-ranked Kansas State on Oct. 31, as the West Virginia defense allowed the Wildcats just 225 total yards.
This will be the second straight week that the Longhorns (4-2, 3-2 in Big 12 play) will square off against one of the nation’s top defenses.
West Virginia (4-2, 3-2) is the only Power 5 school in the nation to be ranked in the top 10 in rushing defense (10th), pass defense (fifth), total defense (fourth) and interceptions (ninth).
Texas beat Oklahoma State despite racking up just 287 total yards. The Longhorns understand they have to play better and can’t count on the Mountaineers turning over the ball four times, as the Cowboys did last week.
“We always enjoy competing against West Virginia; (they have an) incredible team,” Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger said Monday. “We look at every game as the next one. We certainly can’t form a mindset that one win was bigger than any of the other ones, because that’s how games sneak up on you. I don’t think there’s any reason we can’t win the rest of our games.”
Through six games, the Longhorns have 266 points, 134 first downs, 2,697 yards of total offense and 34 offensive touchdowns. Texas’ 266 points are its best tally at the six-game mark of a season since 2008.
The Longhorns rank No. 8 nationally in scoring offense (44.3 points per game), 23rd in total offense (449.5 yards per game) and 25th in passing offense (284.2 ypg). However, they will be without junior running back Keaontay Ingram, who could miss multiple games due to a high-ankle sprain, Longhorns coach Tom Herman said Tuesday. Ingram suffered the injury during the victory over Oklahoma State.
West Virginia’s win over Kansas State produced the Mountaineers’ largest margin of victory over a top-25 team since they walloped top-15 Clemson 70-33 in the 2012 Orange Bowl.
West Virginia coach Neal Brown said Monday that his team’s winning starts with rushing defense and rushing offense. In the Mountaineers’ two losses this season, the ground game averaged 79.5 yards a game while the defense surrendered an average of 191.
“We’ve made drastic improvements in both,” Brown said on his weekly teleconference with Big 12 media. “We’ve embraced who we have to be, not only on defense, but our entire team — and that’s a gritty team. We’ve got to be able to overcome adversity and play at an extremely high level and be physical. That’s who our identity has got to be if we want to be successful.”
This will be the 10th all-time meeting between Texas and West Virginia, with the Mountaineers leading the series 5-4 and winning four of the five games between the teams that have been played in Austin.
West Virginia is the only current member of the Big 12 to have an all-time winning record against Texas.
–Field Level Media