Rising West Virginia football goes on the road against an ailing Texas

After two consecutive wins, the West Virginia football team will head back on the road Saturday to resume Big 12 Conference play, facing off against the Texas Longhorns.

WVU (2-2, 0-1 Big 12) played in an electric primetime TV environment for its last matchup on Thursday, defeating the rival Virginia Tech Hokies at Lane Stadium 33-10. Great execution and control of the game on offense were the deciding factors, along with a defensive touchdown that sealed the game.

The Mountaineers nearly doubled the Hokies offensively with 421 yards compared to 228 yards, with over 200 yards rushing and passing alongside 38 minutes of possession. West Virginia has shown an impressive surge in performance in their last two matchups, vying for their third straight win against Texas on Saturday.

Head coach Neal Brown was impressed with the balanced and effective attack for the Mountaineers on Thursday, saying that it was the offense that controlled the game until the very end, passing and running the ball effectively.

“Offensively, we controlled the game. We were balanced,” Brown said. “When I say we controlled the game, we held the ball for 38 minutes, ran for over 200 rushing yards, passed for over 200 and our specialists did a really good job.”

Despite opening the season allowing more than 30 points to Pittsburgh and Kansas, West Virgi…

Texas (2-2, 0-1 Big 12) had a much different outcome in their most recent matchup, falling in overtime to the Texas Tech Red Raiders, who made a 14-point comeback to take it 37-34 in Lubbock. This is Texas’ second loss of the season that came within three points or less.

On Sunday, West Virginia’s athletic department announced that this matchup is set to kickoff at 7:30 p.m. from Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas. The game will be televised on FS1.

Now, here’s a look at key players to watch during Saturday’s matchup.

WVU vs. Texas: Players to watch

JT Daniels, WVU Quarterback: As always, quarterback JT Daniels is a factor for WVU’s offensive success, especially when he is throwing the ball efficiently and confidently without turnovers.

After 203 yards and one passing score against VT, it will be up to Daniels’ arm to lead the passing game against a weak Texas secondary and an entire defense that ranks bottom-half in the nation in both yards allowed (75th) and points allowed (53rd), according to the NCAA.

CJ Donaldson, WVU Running Back: The freshman running back CJ Donaldson took over the reins of WVU’s backfield Thursday, with a team-high of 23 carries and 106 yards on the ground — but no touchdowns.

As long as the Mountaineers continue to give him touches, he’ll make an impact on the ground against almost any defense it seems, with unique elusiveness and power. Look for Donaldson to make a big impact running the ball, matching up against a weaker-than-usual Texas front-seven.

Bijan Robinson, Texas Running Back: As one of the nation’s best running backs and a future NFL draft pick, Robinson is the backbone of Texas’ offensive scheme. Head coach Steve Sarkisian runs the offense through Robinson and also gives him opportunities through the air, with 103 yards and two rushing touchdowns against the Red Raiders.

With 414 yards and seven touchdowns total through four games, it will be crucial for West Virginia’s defense to shut down Robinson like they have other rushing attacks this season. According to the NCAA, WVU is allowing the 25th least rushing yards per game in the nation at 98.2 yards on average.

Hudson Card, Texas Quarterback: In absence of former five-star quarterback Quinn Ewers due to injury, Card has taken over the quarterback spot for the Longhorns and has had a moderate performance in three starts, amassing 620 yards, three touchdowns and one interception this season.

Card isn’t a player who will take over the game for Texas but is still skilled enough to make a big impact. It will be important for WVU to keep him uncomfortable in the pocket and create pressure that will force crucial mistakes like turnovers and errant throws. West Virginia will need to disrupt Card early and often to keep the game close on the road.

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