With all due respect to South Carolina, Georgia, LSU and Florida, the game of the week for Week 6 will take place in Austin, Texas where No. 8 West Virginia and No. 11 Texas will square off on Saturday in Austin for a battle between the new kids on the block and the traditional schoolyard bully.
All across the nation, people and pundits alike are talking about quarterback Geno Smith and the high-flying Mountaineer offense as they take to the road for the first time as members of the Big 12 Conference. Meanwhile, conference mainstay Texas will look to silence that talk and reestablish itself as one of the premier programs in college football.
The game will feature a pair of top-ten scoring offenses led by two of the nation's most efficient quarterbacks. Smith of WVU and David Ash, signal caller for Texas, rank No. 1 and 3 respectively in completion percentage and boast the two highest QB ratings in the country. Behind the leadership of their quarterbacks, both of these teams are undefeated and in the thick of the race for the Big 12 title.
West Virginia is fresh off recording the best offensive performance in school history, exploding for 70 points in a win over Baylor. In the win, WVU netted 807 yards of total offense and 33 first downs on 88 offensive plays, averaging 9.2 yards per play.
However, the WVU defense also allowed 63 points, 700 yards of offense and 34 first downs to Baylor. Texas, meanwhile, is coming off a close shootout win of its own. Meanwhile, the Longhorns topped Oklahoma State in Stillwater 41-36, winning on a last-minute touchdown by running back Joe Bergeron. Ash was very effective in the game, going 30-for-37 for 304 yards, three touchdowns and just one interception. However, OSU almost pulled off the upset behind running back Joseph Randle, who gouged the UT defense for 199 yards and two touchdowns, as the Longhorns allowed a total of 275 yards on the ground.
There will be plenty on the line for this one on Saturday. Not only will the winner emerge 5-0, but it will also be well within the Top 10 of next week's rankings and likely become the outright favorite to take the conference title as well.
Players to Watch
WVU QB Geno Smith—After the first month of play, Smith has a python-like stranglehold on the Heisman Trophy.
As the other contenders gasp for air, Smith will set out to put up more and more ridiculous numbers. He is currently on pace to throw for 5,184 yards, 60 touchdowns and zero interceptions. Slowing down WVU starts with disrupting Smith’s rhythm.
Texas RB Joe Bergeron—Bergeron has carried the majority of the load so far for Texas on the ground, but his role is about to expand even further. The man he usually splits carries with, Malcolm Brown, won’t be in action this weekend. So, it will be up to the sophomore Bergeron and true freshman Johnathan Gray to take on even more responsibility.
WVU LB Isaiah Bruce—Charged with stopping the young Texas runners will be a young West Virginia linebacker Isaiah Bruce. The redshirt freshman has led his team with 43 tackles in four games after being tabbed as a starter shortly before Week 1. Bruce and fellow linebackers Terence Garvin and Doug Rigg will be instrumental in slowing down the Texas running game.
Texas CB Carrington Byndom and Quandre Diggs—The Texas defense hasn’t quite lived up to the billing it was given heading into the season. Against, WVU the Longhorn defenders will have the opportunity to meet those expectations and find their way back on track. This will start with Byndom, Diggs and safety Kenny Vaccaro and stopping West Virginia’s lethal wide receiver tandem, Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey.
Keys to the Game 1. Can Texas slow down the WVU offense? West Virginia hasn’t been all that impressive on defense this year, particularly in the secondary, but the Mountaineers have so far proven that they don’t really need to play defense to win. If Smith, Austin and Bailey are clicking, WVU is almost impossible to beat. However, if Texas can disrupt Smith and slow down this up-tempo WVU attack, the Longhorns will have a great chance at wining.
2. Can Texas establish its running game without Brown? As impressive as Ash has been, Texas will be better off if it can find success on the ground. Last week against OSU, Texas stuck to the run, even though the Cowboys defended it well. In the end it paid off in a huge way, as Texas ran the ball nine times for 70 yards and two touchdowns in its last two drives. Both ended with touchdown runs from Bergeron and the game ended with a UT win.
3. Which team will make fewer mistakes? A huge source of success this season for both West Virginia and Texas has been their ability to avoid turnovers. WVU has committed just one turnover, an interception thrown by backup QB Paul Millard. WVU has a spotless record with the first team on the field. Texas, meanwhile, has committed just two turnovers and both teams are tied for No. 10 in the nation in turnover margin. It looks like we’re in for a shootout in this one, which means it will likely come down to which team can avoid turnovers when it counts.
Game Info When: Saturday, Oct. 5 | 7 p.m. ET (6 p.m. local)
Where: Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium | Austin, Texas
TV: Fox Live Stream: No official stream available
Radio: Texas All Access | West Virginia All Access
Live Stats/Information: TexasSports.com | WVUSports.com