Fearless Picks: WVU – Texas
It was standings shakeup week as WVU’s narrow win over Kansas State caused a jumble. Andy and Chris maintained their spots atop the board, with Andy nailing an eight-point difference that widened his lead over Chris (who did very well with an 11-point miss).
Brian also missed by just eight, while Greg missed by six – albeit with an overall loss for the K-State win selection. All that was secondary to Jon’s nearly-spot on selection – his 28-24 WVU forecast, just one off from the final score, was the best of the season to date. With his pick of WVU, he vaulted into third in the standings, and is poised to pounce if Andy or Chris stumble.
Last Week: W Season Record: 10-0 Point Differential: 128
The Longhorns travel to Morgantown looking to become bowl eligible while the Mountaineers look for the hat trick against Texas after nabbing wins the last two seasons. Texas brings a solid defense into the game but doesn’t really standout in any other statistical categories. If the Mountaineers can cut down on the mistakes and win the turnover battle a victory should be in the bag, otherwise the Longhorns will go home bowl eligible.
West Virginia 38-31
Last Week: W Season Record: 10-0 Point Differential: 174
Texas comes to town with a stingy defense and an offense that…has yet to hit its stride. West Virginia’s defense has improved throughout the season, as you would expect. The key question is can WVU’s offense regain the efficiency and scoring output from earlier in the season? If so, the Mountaineers will celebrate senior day with another win. The view here is West Virginia finds a way to get win number eight.
West Virginia 34-24
Last Week: W Season Record: 9-1 Point Differential: 145
West Virginia looks to take another step in the Big 12 title race with a match-up against Texas. The Longhorns have been inconsistent on the year but are looking to become bowl eligible. The Mountaineers defense continues to play strong but needs the offense to pick up the pace. Expect Will Grier to have a solid showing … but can they put a full four quarters together?
West Virginia 34-27
Last Week: L Season Record: 8-2 Point Differential: 133
West Virginia has survived against its last two foes who mimicked the style of this week’s in Texas. Both Iowa State and Kansas State are run-first teams who rely largely on ball control and solid defenses to win. The difference is that the Longhorns have more talent, and the defense is playing at an elite level in Austin. UT already has 13 interceptions and ranks second in the Big 12 in rush and scoring defense. If the Mountaineers struggled in a half versus the last two opponents, it appears they won’t get rolling in this one.
Last Week: L Season Record: 8-2 Point Differential: 146
After a shocking 51-41 loss to Maryland in the season opener, Texas has been very good on defense. It allowed over 29 points just once in the next eight games, holding those foes to an average of 17.7 points per game. But UT’s offense has struggled this season (28.6 ppg). Points haven’t always come easy for WVU against top-flight defenses, despite its high-flying yardage numbers. But West Virginia should manage enough to push past the offensively-challenged Longhorns.
West Virginia 31-24
Last Week: W Season Record: 8-2 Point Differential: 175
Out of the final two games, I have a lot more confidence in this home game than I do the road trip next week. During the last few weeks the Mountaineers have looked as good as a team could get and they have looked as bad as a team can be. The loss of focus on offense in the second half against Kansas State last week and the up and down play from the defense is enough to give any Mountaineer fan a case of the jitters. If Will Grier can rein in the interceptions and WVU can get the running game back to early season form, getting by Texas for win number eight will be no problem.
West Virginia 35-24
Last Week: W Season Record: 7-3 Point Differential: 180
West Virginia is shooting blanks in the third and fourth quarters of its last two games, going scoreless in the second half versus Iowa State and Kansas State. In all, the Mountaineers have failed to score in 8 of 28 quarters this season against Big 12 competition – or nearly 30% of the time. That’s a troubling statistic. So how does one explain this inexplicably low output? The offense seems to score either really quickly… or it goes three and out. There have been very, very few sustained drives, which goes back to WVU’s inability to develop any semblance of a rushing attack. WVU’s scoring has come on big chunk passing plays. Super high explosiveness…or woefully inadequate mediocrity. No in-between. When the defense needs a break, it never seems to get it. But the Mountaineers’ defense has been coming on with David Long, Al-Rasheed Benton & Kyzir White anchoring a pretty solid unit. Dylan Tonkery, Ezekiel Rose and Kenny Robinson seem to be stars in the making. So this is a tough game to pick. Texas doesn’t score at a high rate, but it is rugged on defense. In the end, I think it might come down to weather (high probability of rain) and the fact that this Texas coaching staff has never been to Morgantown before.
West Virginia 27-23