It's been a little while since we've done one of these, but let's get back to it with today's game between West Virginia and Texas. Here the the pertinent facts and one sure-to-be-wrong prediction for the matchup:
Kickoff: 12 p.m.
TV, Radio: ESPNU, Sirius Channel 119, XM Channel 199.
Line: West Virginia -8.5
All-time series: Tied, 2-2. The Longhorns won the last meeting, 33-16, in Austin in 2014. It was the Mountaineers' largest loss of the season.
Stat to remember: Skyler Howard has failed to complete more than 55 percent of his passes in each of West Virginia's past five games.
Opposing player to watch: Malik Jefferson. The major prize of Charlie Strong's 2015 recruiting class, Jefferson, a former five-star, top-30 national prospect, has made an immediate impact on the Texas defense. Through the first nine games of his college career, Jefferson is second on the team in tackles with 48 and has six tackles for loss. The numbers aren't anything incredibly overwhelming, but for someone anchoring the middle of a defense as a freshman, that kind of vast potential and promise has a tendency to shine through, especially as the season progresses.
Opposing player to watch, Part Deux: Tyrone Swoopes. The Longhorns' starting quarterback entering the season, Swoopes has assumed a much different, more situational role after Jay Norvell took over play-calling responsibilities at the beginning of the season. In Texas' past three games, who of which were wins, he has averaged at least seven yards per carry. In that same span, the 6-foot-4, 244-pound quarterback has run for seven touchdowns, including four last week against Kansas.
For a West Virginia defense that has struggled against running quarterbacks in Big 12 play, Swoopes' presence could be problematic (though his arm doesn't possess much of a threat).
Star of the game: Wendell Smallwood. Facing the kind of blitz Texas is going to bring, I don't think Skyler Howard is going to get much time in the pocket and with the way he has played the past month and change, I don't have much confidence in him and, because of that, the people he is throwing to. Besides, given Smallwood's production this season, it's hard to really ever bet against him.
An honorable mention for this goes to Nick Kwiatkoski, whose performance at linebacker could help potentially neutralize Texas' run-heavy offense.
Prediction: This game isn't quite a toss-up with the Mountaineers favored by more than a touchdown, but it feels that way in many respects. Texas has been atrocious on the road this season and while I don't expect West Virginia to run away with this, I think that trend with rear its head at more than a few points this afternoon.
West Virginia 27, Texas 21