Guess what, folks? Texas isn’t back.
Despite being the darlings of the Big 12 Conference coming into the season, the Longhorns have once again failed to live up to expectations. Now sitting with a 4-2 record, many have started to speculate if Tom Herman is on the hot seat.
Last week, there were reports that Herman could potentially be fired had his Longhorns lost to Oklahoma State on the road. However, Texas was able to knock off the 6th-ranked Cowboys in Stillwater, and now are expected to make a run at the Big 12 title. The first opponent standing in the way of Texas and Dallas is none other than West Virginia.
According to FanDuel, West Virginia is heading into the matchup with the Longhorns as a touchdown underdog. Many are expecting this to be a close contest, but have Ehlinger and Herman pulling it out in the end. While this could be exactly how it plays out on Saturday, I am certain of one thing – WVU should not be intimidated by Texas.
For the most part in 2020, Texas has looked slightly above average. At least offensively, that is. On defense, the Longhorns have been absolutely brutal. They own the second to worst passing defense in the Big 12, and are ranked towards the bottom of the league in total defense, per ESPN. Most notably in matchups against Texas Tech and Oklahoma, their defense was ripped to shreds. Had it not been for Ehlinger, this team would likely be sitting with a sub-.500 record.
That just isn’t a defense that the Mountaineers should be intimidated by, even if it is the “big and bad” Texas Longhorns. Despite having their own struggles throughout the season, West Virginia actually holds the second best total offense in the Big 12, per ESPN. Jarret Doege and company have the ability to score on anybody, especially a defense as bad as Texas’. This is a unit that players like Leddie Brown and Sam James can excel against. If things can get rolling early, there is no reason to believe that West Virginia won’t be able to pull it off.
Finally, West Virginia still holds the best defense in the Big 12. Outside of a mediocre performance against Texas Tech, the Jordan Lesley and Jahmile Addae led squad have held their own. Though Sam Ehlinger is one of the best quarterbacks in the nation, the defensive front for the Mountaineers can make this a long day for him if they are able to continue their solid play. Yes, Texas is also one of the best offenses in the Big 12, but they haven’t faced a defense as fundamentally sound as West Virginia’s.
There are many areas of this game West Virginia can take advantage of. For that, there is absolutely no reason to go into Austin feeling as if you are the inferior opponent. It will take some good bounces, and one or two special moments, but Texas is an opponent that West Virginia can beat despite what the early belief is.