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Texas vs. WVU: BON staff predictions forecast a close, hard-fought game

Can the ‘Horns build off the two-game win streak back in Austin?

Kansas v West Virginia Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

No one is saying this game between the Texas Longhorns and West Virginia Mountaineers will be easy, but it’s relatively tough to pick against a Longhorns team that looks to be playing some of its best football these past couple of weeks.

Wescott Eberts — editor

With a 7-1 record this season, West Virginia is one of the best teams in the Big 12, but given the relative dismantling that Oklahoma State put on the 'Eers, this is certainly a beatable team.

There are two ways to look at this game — the optimist might say that this is the type of game that Texas has won under Charlie Strong, while the pessimist might note that the 'Horns could be due for another letdown after two wins.

Oklahoma State was able to beat West Virginia by limiting big plays and forcing turnovers. If the Longhorns can do both of those things and continue to run the football effectively against the six-man Mountaineer front, Strong has a chance to move a lot closer to securing a fourth season.

Texas 31, West Virginia 27

Cody Daniel — co-editor

A month ago, things looked bad for Texas, and now entering the final stretch of the season, Charlie Strong has really turned this group around and has his 'Horns trending upward.

I know West Virginia is a really good team, but Texas is back in Austin where it is 4-0 this season. The 'Horns have knocked off four straight AP top 12 opponents and the defense has taken significant strides in the right direction since Strong took over play-calling duties.

Oh, and Texas has some guy named D'Onta Foreman in the backfield, who I hear is pretty good at football.

I think good things continue for Texas and the 'Horns move to 6-4 before heading to Kansas. It will be close, though.

Texas 37, West Virginia 34

Abram Orlansky — staff writer

I was happily wrong last week as the Horns finally got that first road win. The defense looked measurably better in Lubbock as well, and while the yardage was astronomical against Baylor the defense stiffened in the red zone against the Waco Enablers. But it's the Big 12, which means another test from another highly competent offense this weekend.

WVU does it more on the ground than most of the league, and with the improved linebacker play Texas has gotten, I think they can hold the 'Eers relatively in check.

On the other side of the ball, West Virginia has been excellent in terms of scoring defense. I'm not sure there's a defense outside Alabama that I'd trust to fully "stop" D'onta Foreman right now, but you also can't expect to him abuse the West Virginia defense as he did against Tech.

Ultimately, I think Texas stays perfect at home, continues its incremental improvement, and takes one more step toward improbably saving Charlie Strong's job. (By the way, that complete bungling at Kansas State sure looms large now, doesn't it? Texas would be looking at a possible 9-3 finish and would only need to beat Kansas and split with TCU & WVU to get to the supposedly magic 8-4 mark. Man.)

Texas 30, West Virginia 21

Robert Larkin — staff writer

West Virginia may pose the biggest threat to the Longhorns in their final three games. But If the ‘Horns clear this hurdle, they could very well be on their way to an 8-4 record, which would secure Strong’s return.

The Mountaineers’ defense will be a stingier group than the Red Raiders. Regardless, I don’t see the Longhorns running game slowing down much.

The two biggest keys for the Texas offense, though, could be whether or not Sterlin Gilbert can successfully utilize the middle of the field in the passing game while finding ways to get the ball into the hands of Collin Johnson and Devin Duvernay, Texas’ two freshmen playmakers at wide receiver.

On defense, Texas needs to continue its recent upward trend, but this week the ‘Horns have to start the game better prepared.

That being said, I’ve been impressed with the improvements across the depth chart since Strong took over as coordinator. PJ Locke, Kris Boyd, John Bonney, Breckyn Hager and Malik Jefferson have kicked their games into a second gear, and the entire unit has found ways to keep offenses out of the end zone at a lesser rate.

This week, Texas needs to find a way to win its match ups in the secondary on a consistent basis and get off the field on third downs, something they’re still struggling with. If the defense can do that, Texas will have a good shot to win the game.

All in all, I think Foreman and Buechele lift the Texas offense, and the defense gets enough stops to win this game, securing another big win for Charlie Strong.

Texas 31, West Virginia 21

Michael Pelech — staff writer

I would love nothing more than to predict the Charlie Strong revival tour continues rumbling through West Virginia. I just don't like the match up.

The West Virginia defense presents troubles for a Texas offense that needs to threaten with the passing game. WVU DC Tony Gibson can use a talented, rangy secondary to confuse and limit freshman QB Shane Buechele.

That secondary should allow the Mountaineers to load the box on D'Onta Foreman and prevent him from achieving another 250 or 350-yard performance.

The West Virginia offense poses the same questions that the Longhorn defense has struggled to answer this season — a dual-threat quarterback leading a balanced attack, along with a run game that challenges linebackers with a lead blocker.

Has the Texas defense turned around enough to give the Texas offense a chance at winning this one?

WVU 34, Texas 30

Wes Crochet — staff writer

West Virginia will be the most balanced team Texas has faced all season. They can run the ball, pass the ball, defend the run, and defend the pass. They may not do one thing really well, but you’d be hard-pressed to find any glaring weaknesses on their team.

The Mountaineers 3-3-5 defense, a scheme that arguably matches up well against Sterlin Gilbert’s style of offense, could also create challenges for the Texas offense Saturday.

But regardless of how these teams match up or which team has the higher record, when this game kicks off Saturday, Texas will have the best player on the field - his name is D’Onta Foreman.

If Texas wins this game, it will be because West Virginia failed to slow down Foreman enough, and that will have allowed Shane Buechele to also have another solid day through the air.

I don’t see Texas winning this game solely on Foreman’s back, and I also don’t see the ‘Horns winning without him. They’ll need Buechele to make some throws as wel. And for that to happen, Buechele will need Foreman to get his against this stingy West Virginia defense.

Give me the Heisman candidate and freshman quarterback who’s been solid all season.

Texas 28, West Virginia 24