West Virginia had its heart ripped out last week by a last-second field goal by TCU that gave the Horned Frogs an improbable 31-30 come-from-behind win in Morgantown. The Mountaineers now have to pack their bags for a long trip to Texas, and it’s hard to imagine a scenario under which Dana Holgorsen’s squad regroups from last week’s heart-breaking loss and plays with inspiration and purpose.
The Longhorns’ limited success this season has been predicated upon an outstanding defense that is allowing 23.1 points per game at 3.9 yards per rush play, 5.6 yards per pass play and 4.6 yards per play to teams that would combine to average 4.5 yards per rush attempt, 7.3 yards per pass attempt and 5.8 yards per play against a mediocre defensive squad. Overall, Texas is 0.6 yards per rush play, 1.7 yards per pass play and 1.2 yards per play better than average defensively, which is certainly good enough to slow down a potent West Virginia attack that is averaging 36.1 points per game.
West Virginia’s offense is one-dimensional as the Mountaineers are 1.3 yards per pass play better than average (8.4 yards per pass play against teams that would combine to allow 7.1 yards per pass play), but 0.1 yards per rush play worse than average on the ground (4.0 yards per rush attempt against teams that would combine to allow 4.1 yards per rush play). Overall, West Virginia is 0.6 yards per play better than average offensively (6.0 yards per play against teams that would combine to allow 5.4 yards per play), which is not good enough to move the chains against the Longhorns’ stout defense.
Texas Defense vs. West Virginia Offense:
- +0.7 yards per rush play advantage
- +0.4 yards per pass play advantage
- +0.6 yards per play advantage overall from the line of scrimmage
The relevant questions is whether the Longhorns’ pedestrian offense can move the ball against a West Virginia stop unit that is 0.4 yards per play better than average (5.4 yards per play to teams that would combine to average 5.8 yards per play). The good news for Texas investors is the fact that the Mountaineers are allowing 28.5 points per game and 496 total yards on the road this season at 5.6 yards per rush play and 6.4 yards per play. The key for Texas will be to keep the ball on the ground against a subpar West Virginia run defense that is 0.2 yards per rush play worse than average this season.
And, while Texas is 0.4 yards per play worse than average offensively (5.1 yards per rush play against teams that would combine to allow 5.5 yards per play), the Longhorns’ attack has shown signs of life over the last three games. Indeed, Texas is averaging 27.3 points over that span at 4.5 yards per rush play, 7.6 yards per pass play and 5.8 yards per play, all of which are significantly better than the Longhorns’ season averages. I expect Texas to have success moving the ball on the ground, which will consume the clock and keep the ball out of the hands of coach Holgorsen’s explosive pass attack.
From a technical standpoint, West Virginia applies to a very negative 23-79-1 ATS road letdown situation of mine that is based upon its last-second loss to TCU last week. Grab the points with the live home underdog and invest with confidence.
Week 11 NCAA Football Pick: Texas (+4) (-110)