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West Virginia vs. Texas Football Prediction and Preview

West Virginia (WVU) vs. Texas (UT) Football Prediction and Preview

West Virginia (WVU) vs. Texas (UT) Football Prediction and Preview

With both teams sitting at 3-2 in conference play, the Texas Longhorns and West Virginia Mountaineers are essentially playing this weekend to remain viable in the Big 12 race.

UT picked up momentum last week with a win over previously unbeaten Oklahoma State. The Longhorns needed a bevy of OSU turnovers to pull off the upset in overtime, which isn't sustainable for a team hoping to win a conference title.

Will a clean game from the Mountaineers be enough for WVU to steal a victory in Austin? Here's what to watch when the teams square off on Saturday.

West Virginia at No. 22 Texas

Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 7 at 12 p.m. ET

TV: ABC

Spread: Texas -6.5

When West Virginia Has the Ball

The Mountaineers busted out on offense a week ago in their 37-10 thrashing of Kansas State. In light of the competition, quarterback Jarret Doege gave his best performance of the season, completing 22 of his 34 pass attempts for 301 yards and two touchdowns.

WVU will have a shot to do some damage through the air against UT's middling pass defense. Last week, the Longhorns surrendered 400 yards and four TDs to the Oklahoma State passing attack. Keep an eye on WVU wide receiver Bryce Ford-Wheaton, a big-play threat who averaged an eye-popping 34.7 yards per catch a week ago.

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Any success through the air should open up some space on the ground for the 'Eers. WVU's running game features the productive duo of Alec Sinkfield and Leddie Brown. Head coach Neal Brown would certainly favor winning with his team's legs rather than rely on Doege's arm.

When Texas Has the Ball

Frankly, you'll have a hard time finding an offense that is more QB-driven than Texas, which lives and dies with senior Sam Ehlinger. With Ehlinger held to a total of 160 yards of total offense, the Longhorns' hopes nearly died last week against Oklahoma State. Timely OSU turnovers and clutch plays from the Texas QB played key roles in getting UT an overtime win.

The Longhorns can't afford many more games like that from Ehlinger if they hope to keep winning games this year. Will WVU dedicate a linebacker or a defensive back to mirror the UT QB to keep him from going off?

West Virginia's defensive line could have a big hand in making life miserable for Ehlinger. Texas offensive line coach Herb Hand has to put together a plan to keep WVU's Dante and Darius Stills from causing chaos on the interior.

Final Analysis

Texas went to Morgantown last season and cruised to a 42-31 victory. What will it take for the Mountaineers to return the favor in 2020?

Expect West Virginia to make getting to Sam Ehlinger a priority. UT's QB has absorbed so much punishment up to this point in his career that he's essentially playing hurt whenever he's on the field. Don't be surprised if WVU takes advantage of the focus on the Stills brothers to send blitzers from the second level to pressure Ehlinger.

UT could take some heat off its QB by putting the ball in the hands of running back Bijan Robinson more often. The talented freshman is probably the most explosive player on the Texas offense, and he could burn the 'Eers if they have an overly aggressive game plan on defense.

One important difference between these two teams: special teams. Texas kicker Cameron Dicker could make all the difference in a tight contest.

Prediction: Texas 30, West Virginia 27

— Written by Allen Kenney, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Kenney is the founder and editor of BlatantHomerism.com and host of the Blatant Homerism Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @BlatantHomerism.