It’s not quite a heavyweight clash on par with No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 3 LSU, and it doesn’t have the upset potential of No. 4 Notre Dame vs. Northwestern, but No. 13 West Virginia vs. No. 17 Texas should still be considered one of the biggest games of Week 10.
For starters, it has major implications for the race to the Big 12 Championship Game. The Mountaineers and Longhorns are in a three-way tie with Oklahoma atop the conference standings. With the Sooners entering November as an overwhelming favorite to claim one of those spots in Arlington, West Virginia-Texas certainly has stakes.
But it’s also a potential watershed moment for both programs. Seven years into its time in the Big 12, this is the closest West Virginia has been to really being a conference title contender. A similar narrative can be written about Texas, which for the first time in nearly a decade is relevant on the national scale. Here’s what to watch for in Saturday’s clash.
Date: Saturday, Nov. 3 | Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
Location: Royal Texas Memorial Stadium — Austin, Texas
TV: FOX | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Texas: Which Texas team shows up? The one that overpowered Oklahoma, or the one that got run over by Maryland and Oklahoma State? When the Longhorns are playing their best — which is to say when the defensive line is getting a push and quarterback Sam Ehlinger is cooking — they can wear opponents down effectively. The problem is Texas doesn’t always give you that.
But there’s a chance for redemption against West Virginia. The Mountaineers are not getting good offensive line play and Grier, for as good as he is, tends to hold on to the ball too long. Pass rushing specialists like Charles Omenihu and Gary Johnson might be living in the backfield.
West Virginia: Thus begins the Mountaineers’ highly anticipated November slate. The next four games — beyond Texas, TCU, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma await– are what West Virginia has looked forward to over the whole year (though TCU’s implosion is noteworthy). This is the best team coach Dana Holgorsen has fielded and there is very much a “if not now, then when?” vibe to it. Grier may be out of the immediate Heisman conversation, but if he’s going to re-enter it at all, this is the time of year to do it.
And if you really want to get bold, technically the Mountaineers are still in decent position in the College Football Playoff race. The odds might be slim, but they’re not out of it yet.
Game prediction, picks
West Virginia is capable of beating any team in the Big 12, but this is a matchup problem. If Texas gets back to running the ball well and hitting big wideouts Collin Johnson and Lil’Jordan Humphrey, that’s a type of beating for which there’s usually no in-game adjustment. And if Texas gets into West Virginia’s backfield, the Mountaineers haven’t shown they can handle the pressure. Pick: Texas -2.5
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