Desperation and the specter of bowl elimination: Both Texas and West Virginia entered the game on losing streaks with their bowl hopes on the line. The Mountaineers’ have been on a rollercoaster all season. Texas, after starting the season 4-1, has been in freefall the likes of which have not been seen in Austin since 1956 when the Longhorns went 1-9.
Riddled with injuries and crumbling after an overtime loss to Kansas, the Longhorns began the game looking like a team without much hope as they went three-and-out on their first four drives while West Virginia, fueled by the passing game, jumped out to a 14-0 lead.
Texas finally got a first-down with 10:40 remaining in the second quarter then cut WVU’s lead to 14-7. WVU answered with another Doege touchdown pass, and after a Dicker the Kicker field goal, the score was 21-10 at halftime.
The second half began with Texas continuing to shuffle quarterbacks as Casey Thompson was benched in favor of Hudson Card, and the move paid off as Texas struck first and clawed its way back into the game until Card was injured late in the third quarter when UT, down 31-23, was driving deep into West Virginia territory. Thompson returned to the game and threw an interception on 4th down.
Here are three thoughts on West Virginia’s win over Texas, 31-23.
1. NEITHER TEAM HAS QUIT
While execution was an issue for both teams at times, effort was not. Texas and West Virginia fought and traded blows all game. Texas, in particular, had every opportunity to pack it in after falling behind early, but the Longhorns hung in there and showed a lot of character on the road. West Virginia’s efforts keep the Mountaineers’ bowl hopes alive and should carry them into the post-season with a season finale being a very winnable game against Kansas in Lawrence. Texas, having lost six straight, will have one last chance to stop the freefall when it hosts K-State on Black Friday.
2. TEXAS HAS A STAR IN FRESHMAN XAVIER WORTHY
Worthy entered the game as the Big 12’s leading receiver with 49 receptions for 831 yards and 11 touchdowns, and he continued his All-Big 12 season in Morgantown with seven receptions for 80 yards and a touchdown. There may not be a lot of silver linings in Texas’ worst season since 1956, Worthy has risen and is a weapon to build for the future. Texas has a long way to go to become the kind of team that can compete for a conference championship, particularly on defense, but with star players like Worthy to build around, Texas has the potential to take a step forward in what will be a long offseason.
3. DOEGE AND BROWN ARE ON A MISSION
RB Leddie Brown had a huge day for the Mountaineers, rushing for 158 yards and a touchdown on 33 carries. The effort puts Brown at 909 yards the season, and he should be able to cross the 1,000-yard threshold, particularly if WVU plays in a bowl game. Brown’s season has not gone as well as he would have hoped, but he can still have another 1,000-yard season and play in a bowl game.
Senior QB Jarret Doege, the Big 12’s leading passer, apparently has plans to return next season and take advantage of the Covid waiver. He did not walk in WVU’s Senior Day festivities and stated that he feels he has more to accomplish with the Mountaineers. Doege put an exclamation mark on this sentiment with an excellent day through the air as he went 27 of 43 for 290 yards and three TDs.