MORGANTOWN, W.V. – No. 12 Texas was able to snap a four-game losing streak against Oklahoma State two weeks ago despite yielding just south of 500 yards and committing three turnovers. Coach Tom Herman, however, saw growth in his squad in his third-year at the helm despite the hiccups and will look for more Saturday when his team visits a retooling West Virginia squad that shocked the Longhorns late last season.
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC. LINE: Texas -10.5
"We've been telling them since we got here that our best was good enough, but less than our best probably wasn't. Tonight we took a step, in my opinion, because we played less than our best and still beat a really, really good football team," Herman said after his team knocked off the Cowboys 36-30. "Well, probably that we continue to take steps towards being an elite program. The elite teams that I've been a part of could win ugly or could win without their A-game." Sam Ehlinger continued his Heisman push by completing 20-of-28 passes for 281 yards and throwing for four touchdowns for the third time this season, while Keaontay Ingram rushed for a career-high 114 yards as the Longhorns locked down a top-12 ranking heading into October for the first time in eight years. West Virginia, which beat Texas 42-41 last season when Will Grier threw a 33-yard TD pass to Gary Jennings with 16 seconds left and ran in the two-point conversion, has its running game back on track after a slow start, recording 192 yards two weeks ago as the Mountaineers knocked off Kansas 29-24.
ABOUT TEXAS (3-1, 1-0 Big 12)
Ehlinger has thrown for 1,237 yards and 15 touchdowns, which is the most through the first four games of a season in school history; the junior has 38 TD passes to four interceptions over his last 17 games as Texas has gone 13-4 with five wins over ranked opponents. Devin Duvernay had 12 receptions for the second time this season for 108 yards and a touchdown against the Cowboys and is the first Texas receiver with at least 30 catches through four games since Jordan Shipley had 36 in 2009. Despite all the yards, the defense did an admirable job slowing the nation's leading rusher Chuba Hubbard (37 for 121) and receiver Dylan Wallace (five catches for 83 yards) while coming up with several big stops, including forcing three field goals - two from inside 30 yards - and getting a fourth-down stop.
ABOUT WEST VIRGINIA (3-1, 1-0)
Backup running back Martell Pettaway, who had rushed for just 14 yards coming into the Kansas game, gained 40 yards on six carries and scored two second-half touchdowns in the victory over the Jayhawks. After two weeks, the Mountaineer run game ranked 129th out of 130 football teams, averaging an anemic 32 yards per game, but 365 yards over the last two games has moved the Mountaineers up to 117th in the rankings. "We've done a better job of playing physical on the perimeter," first-year coach Neal Brown said Monday. "Our offensive line, we've gotten hats on hats. We're not always blocking them exactly the way we want to, but we're not allowing run-throughs and negative yardage plays like we did the first two weeks."
1. West Virginia OG Josh Stills, an All-Big 12 second team choice by the coaches last year, underwent shoulder surgery on Monday and is out for the season. That leaves senior LT Colton McKivitz and junior OG Chase Behrndt as the only remaining players with extensive experience on this year's offensive line.
2. The Longhorns will honor legendary running back Cedric Benson by wearing his number 32 decal on their helmets in his honor. The 2004 Doak Walker Award winner and eight-year NFL veteran passed away in a motorcycle accident on Aug. 17 in Austin.
3. Mountaineers QB Austin Kendall completed 25-of-37 for 202 yards against Kansas and is completing 65.3 percent of his 144 passes for 871 yards with six TDs and three interceptions but is averaging only 9.3 yards per completion.
PREDICTION: Texas 34, West Virginia 17