Scenarios: vs. No. 24 West Virginia

Drew King

Texas wins if

It’s become impossible to win in the Big 12 without a good quarterback.

Oklahoma State senior Mason Rudolph leads the nation in passing yards, followed by Oklahoma redshirt senior Baker Mayfield, West Virginia redshirt junior Will Grier and Texas Tech senior Nic Shimonek.

Grier has been nothing short of spectacular this season while leading the Mountaineers to a 7–3 record. In addition to his 3,440 passing yards, Grier has also thrown 34 touchdowns, second highest in the nation, and boasts a passer rating of 163.5.

The Longhorns haven’t had the same amount success at the position. Sophomore Shane Buechele and freshman Sam Ehlinger have combined for 2,739 yards, 13 touchdowns, eight interceptions and have completed just 60.9% of their passes.

The Longhorns have leaned on their quarterbacks all season, especially with head coach Tom Herman continuing to juggle running backs. However, the pair of passers might struggle more than usual against West Virginia.

Against the pass, the Mountaineers have allowed just 245.3 passing yards per game, second best in the Big 12, and have picked off opponents 10 times as well, including two against Kansas State last week.

Texas wins this game if it can overcome West Virginia’s stingy defense and produce through the air.

Texas loses if

The burnt orange defense seemed to lose its foothold on the Big 12 defense two weeks ago in a 24-7 loss against then-No. 10 TCU.

Texas failed to force a turnover and did little to stop the Horned Frogs’ running game. TCU senior and sophomore running backs Kyle Hicks and Darius Anderson combined for 140 rushing yards on 29 carries and three touchdowns.

However, things returned to status quo against Kansas last weekend, thanks to Antwuan Davis.

The senior defensive back recovered a fumble and racked up two interceptions, one of which he returned 16 yards for a touchdown. Senior defensive back Jason Hall also chipped in a pick, helping the Longhorns in their 42-27 win over the Jayhawks.

Texas will need to do more of the same against West Virginia. Grier has shown he has flaws and has been picked off 12 times. Four of them came in Week 9 against Oklahoma State during the Mountaineers’ worst loss of the season, 50-39.

The Longhorns still have the No. 2 defense in the conference and have the ability to shut down some of the nation’s top offenses, even without junior cornerback Holton Hill. Texas loses this game if it can’t capitalize on West Virginia’s mistakes and continue making big plays on defense.