Fearless Picks: West Virginia Mountaineers - Texas Longhorns

WVU's second consecutive road game against an orange-clad foe could make for some tough picks for our panel. Do they see the Mountaineers being able to blunt the Longhorn rushing stampede?

Mountaintop Picks...

Jeff came within eight points of last week's final score to extend his lead at the top, but Chris (9), Jon (10), Matt (13) and Greg (15) were also right in the neighborhood in the points battle.

...And The Valley Below

It was shaping up as a three-tiered race, with the lower six in our league chasing the top two of Jeff and Brian J. That mimics the old Big Eight conference, with its "Big Two" and "Little Six" classifications. However, this week's picks will certainly cause a shakeup in our standings.

Jeff Cobb Last Week: W Season: 7-1 Point Differential: 143
Oh boy. This is going to be a tough one. In my opinion, the Longhorns are a matchup nightmare for the Mountaineers. Texas presents size and physicality on the offensive side of the ball, with D’Onta Foreman the latest “Bull in a China Shop” tailback to join the Longhorn stable. When they put Tyrone Swoopes under center to run the Wildcat package, with a FB and TE leading the way, it just adds another level to the jumbo scheme. I think they’ll still take their shots over the top with Shane Beuchele, but I also think Texas has moved away from the sort of “Air It Out” passing game they were employing earlier in the year. The last few games, they’ve figured out that they’re at their best with a heavy dose of run and time management. On defense, they are giving up yards and points. But the defensive front is still stout, and good fronts have given West Virginia fits all year. And without the three RBs being fully healthy, WVU’s run game might suffer a bit. Can West Virginia win by going predominately to the air? Technically, yes. But can they do it on the road in front of 100,000 in a hostile environment? That remains to be seen. I have yet to pick against West Virginia this year, but I think the time may have arrived. Hope I’m wrong.
  Texas 37-34  
Brian Jolliff Last Week: W Season: 7-1 Point Differential: 171
Although there is a lot of the season yet to be played, this game will likely determine the course of WVU's Big 12 season championship hopes. A win and the Mountaineers can advance to move onto the next big challenge at home... lose and that goal is out of reach. I'll put the weight of this game on two factors: QB play and turnovers. WVU just cannot afford to come up short in those areas again and expect to win the game, especially on the road in a tough environment. Corralling Texas's D'Onta Foreman will be a big task, but the Mountaineer offense should be able to at least match scores or better against a suspect UT defense. The big question on every WVU fan's mind is, which Mountaineer team will we see this Saturday? I'm hoping for a slim victory.
  West Virginia 31-28  
Brian McCracken Last Week: W Season: 6-2 Point Differential: 175
After thoroughly dominating Kansas, West Virginia heads to Austin to take on a Texas team that is showing a renewed sense of life after winning its last two match-ups. Texas started the year slow at 2-3, but the Longhorns appear to have settled in and are now playing their best football of the season thanks in large part to running back D'Onta Foreman. To state the obvious, this contest will hinge on whether West Virginia is able to slow down the 250-pound back and make true freshman quarterback Shane Buechele win the game with his arm. I have had as difficult of a time picking this game as any this year but I can't shake the sub-par road loss to Oklahoma State from my memory. That performance combined with some intangibles (Texas playing for a bowl eligibility, players still playing hard for Charlie Strong) and a banged up Mountaineer backfield (none of West Virginia's backs are 100 percent) makes me lean the Longhorns way.
  Texas 38-28  
Andy Easton Last Week: W Season: 6-2 Point Differential: 189
This is the toughest game of the season to call. Texas isn't the Texas of the past but the Longhorns are coming off two solid wins and are undefeated at home this season. The Mountaineers are playing well but are they playing well enough to win in Austin? This game will be high-scoring and the team with the fewest mistakes will be victorious.
  Texas 38-35  
Greg Hunter
Last Week: W Season: 5-3 Point Differential: 131
Scoring points hasn’t been a problem for Texas (37.0), but stopping others from doing so has (33.2). West Virginia’s offense needs to take advantage of UT’s defensive struggles and not be as self-destructive as it was on its last road trip, which resulted in a 37-20 loss at Oklahoma State. WVU is better on paper than Texas, but not so much that a few ill-timed mistakes won’t turn this into a negative outcome for the Mountaineers. My thoughts are those miscues will be limited.
  West Virginia 35-31  
Matt Keller Last Week: W Season: 5-3 Point Differential: 132
This will be the biggest physical challenge for West Virginia this season. Texas is blessed with size and depth across the board, and possesses the nation's premier back in D'Onta Foreman. The junior rushed for 341 yards versus Texas Tech - the exact same number that WVU rushed for as a team against Kansas - and has an incredible 591 yards over the last two games. Expect the Longhorns to steadily feed Foreman the ball throughout the game, to the point where the Mountaineers will have to deal with the 6-1, 249-pounder upwards of 25-plus times in this game. That will prove too much, as UT's numbers, size and talent eventually overwhelm.
  Texas 34-31  
Jonathan Martin Last Week: W Season: 5-3 Point Differential: 173
This is a make or break game for West Virginia. After Texas life gets tougher with Oklahoma and Baylor despite playing those games at home. The last "must win" for the Mountaineers was versus Oklahoma State -- a game they looked off. I expect WVU to start out fast and contain the Texas run game. The 'Eers didn't get it done against OSU but they will this time.
  West Virginia 34-27  
Chris Richardson Last Week: W Season: 5-3 Point Differential: 183
Big game for the Mountaineers this week. Look at it like a playoff. Win Saturday, and come home to a raucous atmosphere at Mountaineer Field next week with a shot to seize control of the Big 12 title race. But one game at a time. And for sure, winning in Austin will be a tall task. West Virginia's offense looks to have gained some confidence last week against Kansas. I'm hoping they carry that with them to Austin, and while the defense will have its hands full slowing down the Texas running game, I think they're up to it.
  West Virginia 34-28  

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