Key Texas matchups to watch this week: Volleyball looks to bounce back, former Horns meet on Thursday Night Football

Nick Hargroue, Sports Reporter

Here are some of the most exciting matchups for the upcoming week in Texas athletics and professional sports:

Thursday, Nov. 11 — Texas Women’s Volleyball: Texas vs. Oklahoma, LHN, 7 p.m.

Texas is looking to bounce back, coming off of its first loss of the season to the Baylor Bears. The Longhorns lost 3-1, with the total point differential favoring Baylor by only two over the course of the four sets.

Saturday’s loss against Baylor aside, Texas has been dominant in every sense of the word so far, routinely shutting out its opponents and putting up gaudy stats. The Longhorns look to regain their dominant form once more against a below .500 winning percentage Oklahoma Sooners team on Thursday. 

Oklahoma is consistently outplayed by its opponents in terms of total kills per set, assists per set and digs per set, so Texas should be able to capitalize with its stellar .327 team hitting percentage and stout defense.

Texas by no means played a bad game against Baylor, so the team should be able to shake off this loss as an aberration and rebound against a statistically weak Oklahoma team.

Saturday, Nov. 13 — Texas Football: Texas vs. Kansas, ESPNU, 6:30 p.m.

The state of Texas football is not great right now, as the Longhorns are coming off of yet another loss in conference, this time losing to Iowa State in a 30-7 trouncing. Luckily, Texas has the opportunity to put an end to its losing streak on Saturday against a poor Kansas team that sits 1-8 on the season.

It’s hard to point to one thing or another in order to explain why Texas has failed in the second half of the season, but the Longhorns’ ability to put away games in the second half has been suboptimal at best. Texas has been unable to run the ball, pass or play any semblance of defense in the second half for the latter portion of the season. It is up to head coach Steve Sarkisian and defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski to make the proper adjustments at halftime in order to keep their foot on the gas.

Texas will need to figure out how to put together four complete quarters of football if the team wants to avoid an embarrassing loss against Kansas at home on Saturday. 

Sunday, Nov. 14 — NCAA Soccer Tournament, First Round: Texas vs. SMU, ESPN+, 1 p.m.

Texas women’s soccer came up just short in the Big 12 Championship, losing 1-2 against No. 9 TCU. The Longhorns struck first with a dazzling first goal from freshman midfielder Ashlyn Miller, but the Horned Frogs would strike back with two goals of their own before the final horn would sound.

Texas is scheduled to play SMU in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The Mustangs finished 11-4-2 at the end of the conference play. SMU has a three-pronged attack, led by graduate graduate student midfielder Lindsey Whitmore, junior midfielder Wayny Balata and senior midfielder Courtney Sebazco. Whitmore, Balata and Sebazco combined for over half of SMU’s points on the season, clearly showing that the trio is the focal point of the Mustang offense.

Texas had a good run in conference play this season, with its only loss against a Big 12 opponent coming in the championship game against TCU. Despite their recent loss, the Longhorns should feel good about their chance to take home the national championship in the NCAA tournament behind the efforts of their two star freshmen in midfielder Lexi Missimo and forward Trinity Byars, along with their Olympic gold medalist in senior midfielder Julia Grosso.

Thursday, Nov. 11 — NFL: Ravens vs. Dolphins, FOX, 7:20 p.m.

Two former Longhorns and budding stars will face off on Thursday Night Football this week, as Devin Duvernay and the Baltimore Ravens take on Brandon Jones and the Miami Dolphins.

Jones and Duvernay both graduated from UT with degrees in sports management in 2019, and both fulfilled their dreams of becoming NFL players after being taken with the No. 70 and the No. 92 pick respectively in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft. 

Duvernay had a relatively quiet rookie season last year, with only 271 scrimmage yards. However, he is starting to come into his own this season. Duvernay is on pace to top his previous year’s receiving total in a limited Ravens passing attack, and while his numbers aren’t eye-popping, he is poised to break out as the Ravens’ top target at any given moment.

As for Brandon Jones’ rookie season, he appeared in all 16 games and started in four as a rotational safety for Miami. Jones had a combined total of 63 tackles for the Dolphins, with three of those being for a loss. This season he has already improved as a safety, surpassing last season’s total of tackles for loss. Jones’ improvement has led him to start seven of nine games this season, becoming more of a mainstay on the Miami defense.

This Thursday Night Football matchup looks to be in favor of the Ravens, as they are a contender to win the AFC North in the playoffs. However, the Dolphins have the chance to play spoiler with a well-coached defense and quarterback Tua Tagovailoa coming back from injury.