The No. 8-ranked West Virginia Mountaineers visit the No. 11-ranked Texas Longhorns Saturday at Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, and the biggest question coming into the Big 12 Conference showdown is: Can the Longhorns defense stop the Mountaineer's offense?
The task seems almost impossible after WVU's impressive 70-63 victory over the Baylor Bears last Saturday. But as SB Nation's Bill Connelly pointed out Thursday it can be done, Texas just needs to look at the game film of the Moutaineers' 31-21 victory over the Maryland Terrapins, Sept. 22.
Against Maryland on September 22, however, the Mountaineers scored just 31 points, gained 363 yards, and averaged 5.3 yards per play. Granted, WVU still won by 10 points (the Maryland offense is, after all, still the Maryland offense), but the Terps made life much more difficult for head coach Dana Holgorsen and quarterback Geno Smith than their counterparts from Morgantown, Harrisonburg, or Waco.
So, how did a program that is 2-2 overall slow down one of the best offensive in the nation? Connelly lists four things the Terps' did very well: 1) Forced WVU to not use its entire playbook; 2) used an effective four-man pass rush; 3) tackled really well; and 4) stopped the run.
In the end, says Connelly, the Longhorns can do all of this and have a solid shot of winning Saturday.
At home, Texas will still have an excellent chance of coming away with a victory. But the offense will have to keep up. Against a full WVU playbook and an absurdly accurate Geno Smith, it is almost a guarantee that any team this side of Tuscaloosa will have to score at least 40 points to beat West Virginia. But the WVU defense is iffy enough that this might just happen.
Kick off for Saturday's game is set for 7 p.m. ET and it will be broadcasted on FOX.