Texas Longhorns at West Virginia Mountaineers
Milan-Puskar Stadium – Morgantown, West Virginia
Saturday, November 14, 2015, 12:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPNU
Opening Line: West Virginia -8
Current Line: West Virginia -9
Opening Total: 58
Current Total: 53
Opening Money Line: West Virginia -360 / Texas +295
Current Money Line: West Virginia -360 / Texas +295
The Big 12 has four teams in the top 15 of the college football playoff rankings. It is well publicized that those four teams all play each other in a grueling November round robin. However, lost in the shuffle is that means the lesser teams in the Big 12 all play each other in November. There is a group of five teams with between three to five wins that are all trying to get to six wins and bowl eligibility. The 4-5 Texas Longhorns and 4-4 West Virginia Mountaineers are two of those teams as they play each other in Morgantown Saturday. Texas is 3-3 in conference and in fifth place, while West Virginia is in eighth at 1-4.
The series is tied 2-2 between Texas and West Virginia. Texas has won two of the three meetings since West Virginia joined the Big 12 including 33-16 in Austin last year.
Texas is coached by Charlie Strong. The Longhorns have home wins over Rice 42-28, Kansas State 23-9 and Kansas 59-20 last week, plus a neutral site win over rival Oklahoma 24-17 in Dallas. The Longhorns have narrow home losses to California 45-44 and Oklahoma State 30-27. Texas has road losses at Notre Dame 38-3, TCU 50-7 and Iowa State 24-0.
After a humiliating shutout loss at Iowa State, Texas was a 28.5 point favorite against winless Kansas and the total was 52.5. The Longhorns jumped out to a 17-0 lead early and never looked back. Kansas pulled to within 24-14 by halftime, but Texas scored 35 unanswered points to open the second half. Kansas added a late meaningless touchdown to make the final 59-20. Texas had almost 600 total yards. Kansas had over 400 yards but had four turnovers. The Longhorns are 4-5 ATS and the total is 3-6 this season.
West Virginia is coached by Dana Holgorsen. The Mountaineers opened the season with three straight non-conference wins all by blowouts. WVU beat Georgia Southern 44-0, Liberty 41-17 and Maryland 45-6. The Mountaineers have losses at Oklahoma 44-24, Baylor 62-38 and TCU 40-10, plus a home loss to Oklahoma State 33-26 in overtime. West Virginia snapped a four game losing streak last week with a home win over Texas Tech 31-26.
West Virginia was a 9 point favorite against Texas Tech and the total was 81. The Mountaineers took a slim 17-14 lead into halftime. The Mountaineers would lead 31-20 in the fourth, but the Red Raiders scored a touchdown with 6:47 left to pull within 31-26 after missing the two point conversion. Texas Tech would never get the ball back though after the ensuing kickoff. The Mountaineers held the explosive Red Raider offense to just 378 yards and 26 points in the win. Texas Tech averages 581 yards and 45 points a game. West Virginia is 2-6 ATS and the total is 2-6 this season.
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Texas is being outscored 29-25 this season. Texas is #83 or worse in both categories nationally. The Longhorns average 360 yards per game on offense including 153 passing and 207 rushing yards. Texas is #101 or worse in total and passing offense out of 128 teams, and #30 in rushing. On defense, Texas is allowing 434 yards per game including 247 passing and 187 rushing yards. The Longhorns are #85 or worse in all defensive categories. Texas has forced 16 turnovers and has 7 of their own. The Longhorns average 59 penalty yards per game and opponents average 44. Texas is 50/137 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 79/159. The Longhorns have forced 30 sacks and allowed 24. Texas is 21/25 scoring in the red zone with 16 touchdowns. Opponents are 35/39 with 26 touchdowns. Texas has a punt return for a touchdown plus 3 defensive touchdowns.
Quarterback Jerrod Heard has thrown for 1,040 yards with 4 touchdowns and 3 interceptions, and rushed for 540 yards on 120 carries and 3 touchdowns. Tyrone Swoopes has thrown for 334 yards and 3 touchdowns, and has also rushed for 266 yards on 44 carries with 9 touchdowns.
Running back D’onta Foreman has 77 carries for 534 yards with 4 touchdowns, along with 4 catches for 52 yards. Johnathan Gray has 109 carries for 433 yards with 3 touchdowns, plus 6 catches for 84 yards.
Receiver Daje Johnson has 29 catches for 285 yards. John Burt has 19 catches for 376 yards and 2 touchdowns. Armanti Foreman has 11 catches for 182 yards and 2 touchdowns. Marcus Johnson has 10 catches for 116 yards and a touchdown.
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West Virginia is outscoring teams 32-29 this season. The Mountaineers are #49 in scoring nationally. West Virginia averages 461 yards per game on offense including 241 passing and 220 rushing yards. The Mountaineers are #48 or better in all three categories nationally, including #19 in rushing. On defense, WVU is allowing 425 total yards including 248 passing and 177 rushing yards. The Mountaineers are #82 or worse in all three categories. West Virginia has forced 17 turnovers and has 15 of their own. The Mountaineers average 84 penalty yards per game and opponents average 73. West Virginia is 62/146 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 45/144. The Mountaineers have forced 14 sacks and allowed 23 this season. WVU is 28/37 scoring in the red zone with 21 touchdowns, and opponents are 27/32 with 17 touchdowns. The Mountaineers have allowed 2 defensive touchdowns, and have a kickoff return for a touchdown.
Quarterback Skyler Howard has completed 55.6% of his passes for 1,875 yards with 16 touchdowns and 9 interceptions, and also has 105 carries for 256 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns. Back-up William Crest, Jr. has seen some action. He has thrown for 53 yards, and has 15 carries for 51 yards and a touchdown.
Running back Wendell Smallwood has 143 carries for 954 yards and 6 touchdowns, along with 20 catches for 118 yards. Rushel Shell has 109 carries for 437 yards and 5 touchdowns, along with 10 catches for 83 yards.
Receiver Shelton Gibson has 25 catches for 576 yards and 7 touchdowns. Jovon Durante has 20 catches for 285 yards and 3 touchdowns. Daikiel Shorts has 22 catches for 262 yards and 5 touchdowns. Jordan Thompson has 16 catches for 222 yards. Four defensive players are listed on the injury report.
Texas is 5-1 ATS in November, 4-1 on fieldturf, 5-12 after failing to cover, 6-20 after passing for more than 280 yards, 1-4 after a straight up win of more than 20 points, and 1-8 after scoring more than 40 points.
West Virginia is 2-5 ATS at home, 2-6 in November and on fieldturf, 5-16 in Big 12 games, 1-4-1 against teams with losing road records, 0-4 after an ATS loss and 0-5 overall.
Both of these teams struggle on defense but West Virginia is much better on offense. I like the Mountaineers to win comfortably at home.