#11 Texas Longhorns (3-1) vs. West Virginia Mountaineers (3-1)
Saturday, October 5, 2019 @ 3:30 PM EST
Mountaineer Field (Morgantown, WV)
Moneyline: UT (-400), WVU (+300)
Spread: Texas -10.5 (-110), West Virginia +10.5 (-110)
Total: Over 61 (-110), Under 61 (-110)
I’m sure everyone remembers how last year’s matchup ended, considering the fact that it sparked a national debate about sportsmanship and led to the Big 12’s coordinator of football officials making a statement before this season at the Big 12 media days.
“Like any play, there is a degree—who it’s directed at. If they do it in their bench area, we’re not going to look at it. It would be like any other celebration foul, so it has to be like any other foul we have. Does it rise to the level we need to deal with that? It’s a hot topic.
“I know people want us to be definitive on that, but it’s like any touchdown celebration. Is it directed at an opponent or just celebration with your teammates?”
There’s a good chance we see the ‘Horns Down’ on Saturday, as West Virginia has scored 73 points in their last 2 games, beating North Carolina State and Kansas. The Mountaineers’ offense got off to a slow start in their first 2 games, managing just 20 points in a Week 1 win against James Madison and 7 points in a Week 2 loss to Missouri.
Texas and West Virginia have both allowed 25.5 points per game so far this year, but Texas’ defense has been stingy against the run (122 yards per game allowed, 40th in FBS). Considering West Virginia’s less-than-stellar passing game (218.8 yards per game, 83rd in FBS), that should be a big advantage for the Longhorns.
The real disparity between these teams, and the reason Texas will win this game big, is the Longhorns’ offensive firepower and the Mountaineers’ lack thereof. For context, Texas QB, Sam Ehlinger, has accounted for 1,436 yards and 16 touchdowns this year. The entire Mountaineers offense has 1,304 yards of total offense and 12 touchdowns.
Speaking of Sam Ehlinger, the Longhorns’ QB has taken another big leap in his Junior year, earning himself some consideration for the Heisman. With 4 quarterbacks currently ahead of him in the race, Ehlinger has placed himself among the elite quarterbacks in the country through 4 games, completing 72.9% of his passes (13th in FBS) for 1,237 yards (24th in FBS) and 15 touchdowns (6th in FBS), for a Passer Efficiency Rating of 181 (10th in FBS).
The Longhorns’ other big offensive weapons are RB Keaontay Ingram, who leads the rushing attack with 295 yards and 3 touchdowns, and WR Devin Duvernay, who leads the Big-12 in receptions (39), is tied for 3rd in yards (377) and has scored 4 touchdowns. The Longhorns have two other receivers with 4 touchdown catches, including big-play threat, Brennan Eagles, who has caught just 10 passes, but has an average of 27.6 yards per reception. West Virginia’s secondary struggled a bit against Missouri and had some trouble with Kansas’ passing attack, so if Sam Ehlinger can get it going early, the Longhorns should roll to an easy victory.
West Virginia QB Austin Kendall will need to take care of the ball, first and foremost, but the Mountaineers will need him to be able to open up the run game early if they want to have any success. After being held under 35 rushing yards in each of their first 2 games, the Mountaineers’ backfield has responded well, running for 365 yards and 6 touchdowns over their last 2 contests. If West Virginia can run the ball 30-40 times and control the tempo, they should be able to slow down Texas’ offense and keep this game within reach.
However, I think Sam Ehlinger and the Longhorns offense is just too explosive and the Texas defense will put just enough pressure on Austin Kendall to force a bad throw or two. I see Texas taking control early and winning this game by two scores.