Texas Longhorns vs. West Virginia Mountaineers
Date and Time: Saturday, November 18, 2017, 12 p.m. ET
Location: Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium, Morgantown, WV
Opening College Football Odds: West Virginia -3.5
Texas vs. West Virginia TV Coverage: ESPN
This is a big moment for Tom Herman. The newest Texas coach has a 5-5 record through his first 10 games, and though the opportunity is still amazingly there to win the Big XII, it's also there to ultimately not reach a bowl game either. The Longhorns will need to beat both West Virginia and Texas Tech plus get some help to reach the conference title game and get a second shot at Oklahoma, yet losses in both games will leave them out of the bowl season entirely.
The quarterback carousel continues to turn in Austin, most recently landing on Shane Buechele over Sam Ehlinger. Buechele missed a few plays in the first quarter with a minor injury last week against Kansas, but he came back in the game and put up great numbers in a 42-27 victory.
The problem the Longhorns have is that they haven't beaten a good team in eons. Their last even remotely respectable win came over Kansas State on October 7. That said, Texas hasn't been all that far away from even the best teams in the Big XII, losing by five to Oklahoma and three in overtime against Oklahoma State. A 24-7 loss two weeks ago at TCU was as low as this team had gotten all year long.
West Virginia might not totally be out of the National Championship hunt, even with three losses. It's bizarre to think that to be the case, but the Mountaineers are going to have two shots at Oklahoma in a row if they can win out and get some help. They have a win over Iowa State to their credit, and their losses against Oklahoma State, TCU and Virginia Tech are hardly disqualifiers. To end the season by beating a team ranked in the top-5 in the land not just once on the road, but a second time on a neutral field? You never know.
If that was to be the case, perhaps Will Grier would make a late Heisman Trophy push, too. It's amazing that Grier is flying under the radar so much after throwing for 3,440 yards and 34 touchdowns with two more on the ground in his first 10 games of the season. The Florida transfer has proven to be the real deal, and he's proving to be the real deal with one more season of eligibility left to be used in Morgantown.
Texas has to figure out how to run the football in this game. It's absolutely astounding that such a great offensive mind like Herman can't figure out how to have a single man averaging even 32 rushing yards per game this season. Chris Warren has completely fallen out of favor and is basically never on the field any longer, but it's hard to point at any given running back and say that that man is the one to watch. None of the UT backs have been any good this year, and there's a good chance no one gets to 400 yards for the entire season on the ground, even if the Horns still have three more games left to play.
In three losses this year, the Mountaineers have allowed 216.7 rushing yards per game. In seven wins, they've conceded just 180.1 rushing yards per game.
Texas vs. West Virginia Free Picks
We're not all that sure why Texas has given up on the run, but we do know that its defense hasn't given anything up this season quite yet. This team might be ranked No. 101 in the nation against the pass, but the two pass-happiest teams on its schedule, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State combined to score just 42 points against this unit in October.
Texas is a live underdog in this one, and we're happy to take the points at our favorite online sportsbook in a game we think ends in an upset.
College Football ATS Pick: Texas +3.5 at BookMaker.eu
College Football Score Prediction: Texas 28, West Virginia 27