WEST VIRGINIA MOUNTAINEERS (4-0)
at TEXAS LONGHORNS (4-0)
Kickoff: Saturday, 7:00 p.m. EDT
Line: Texas -7, Total: 74½
No. 8 West Virginia and No. 11 Texas meet for the first time in 56 years as both highly-ranked, Big 12 unbeatens take the field at Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin on Saturday night.
This game features the nation’s two highest passing efficiency quarterbacks. WVU’s Geno Smith (208.37 rating) also leads the nation with 457 total YPG, completing 83.4% of his passes for 1,728 yards, 20 TD and 0 INT. Texas QB David Ash (184.03 rating, 2nd in nation), has connected on 78.0% of his throws for 1,007 yards, 10 TD and 1 INT. The Mountaineers are on a three-game ATS skid despite 143 points (47.7 PPG), while the Longhorns are on a three-game ATS winning streak.
Who will win this Big 12 offensive showcase on Saturday night? For the answer, connect to The Platinum Sheet for all the StatFox Experts picks for every key college football game throughout the 2012 season.
Smith has the top two receivers in the nation in terms of receptions with Tavon Austin (12.0 per game) and Stedman Bailey (10.3 per game). Baylor’s Terrence Williams is the only FBS receiver with more yards (167 rec. YPG) than Bailey (159 rec. YPG) or Austin (140 rec. YPG). The pair comprised most of Smith’s 656 passing yards and 8 TD last week, as the WR duo combined for 518 yards and 7 TD. RB Andrew Buie also rushed for two touchdowns, but was held to 82 yards on 25 carries (3.3 YPC). Although the Mountaineers defense was lit up by Baylor for 63 points and 700 yards last week, this D-line continues to wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks, ranking 12th in the nation in sacks (3.3 per game) and eighth in Tackles For Loss (8.5 per game).
Ash is coming off another great game against Oklahoma State last week, completing 30-of-37 passes for 304 yards, 3 TD and 1 INT. All three of the touchdowns went to Jaxon Shipley, who leads the team with 17 receptions. With top RB Malcolm Brown getting injured last week, Texas managed a paltry 136 rushing yards on 42 carries (3.2 YPC). With Brown out for Saturday’s game, Joe Bergeron will be the main ball carrier. He injured his shoulder a couple of weeks ago, but scored both rushing touchdowns against the Cowboys, gaining 48 yards on 15 carries. Texas is also concerned about its porous run defense allowing 180 rushing YPG (86th in nation). Last year, the ‘Horns gave up just 96 rushing YPG, which ranked sixth in the country. They are also surrendering way too many big plays, allowing five touchdowns of 44+ yards this season. Texas continues to be opportunistic on defense though, forcing eight turnovers in the four victories.