Texas finds itself in a familiar head-scratching position and looking for answers as it faces surging West Virginia on Saturday evening in an early, but very crucial, Big 12 Conference dustup in Austin, Texas.
Neither Texas, which dropped out of the AP Top 25 this week, nor West Virginia can afford another conference loss so early in the season, so expect the fur to be flying under the lights in the heart of Texas.
The Longhorns (2-2, 0-1 Big 12) return home after a 37-34 overtime loss at Texas Tech last Saturday in which they squandered a 14-point third-quarter lead. The Longhorns needed a Bert Auburn 48-yard field goal on the final play of regulation, produced via a four-play, 46-yard drive in just 21 seconds with no timeouts to force the extra period.
"Sometimes it's easy to look at the result and think, 'Oh we're not better,' but I see a lot of improvement on where we're at," Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian said.
"We made too many self-inflicted wounds (against Texas Tech), too many errors on our part to ultimately put ourselves in a position not to win the game. It wasn't for lack of effort. We played hard. We didn't play very smart."
Preseason All-American running back Bijan Robinson fumbled on Texas' first play of overtime, setting the table for the Red Raiders to win with a field goal on its possession. Robinson had 103 yards rushing on 16 carries in the loss and scored on runs of 8 and 40 yards. His 412 yards on the ground ranks 17th in the nation, while his seven rushing TDs are tied for third.
The Mountaineers (2-2, 0-1 Big 12) travel to Central Texas after a dominating 33-10 road win over Virginia Tech last Thursday.
West Virginia amassed 421 yards of total offense in the win and possessed the football for 17 more minutes than Virginia Tech, with quarterback JT Daniels throwing for 203 yards and a touchdown and CJ Donaldson leading the Mountaineers' potent rushing game with 106 yards on 23 carries.
West Virginia's two losses this year have been to No. 24 Pittsburgh on the road and to undefeated Kansas at home.
"The story of our downturn was probably exaggerated," West Virginia head coach Neal Brown said. "We've been close, and I don't know if our record really tells our story. I feel like we've got a good football team."
West Virginia holds a 6-5 edge in the all-time series with the Longhorns and has won four of the six games played in Austin.
--Field Level Media