Coming in to the final two weeks of the regular season, the West Virginia Mountaineers are sitting at 4-6, in need of two victories to reach a bowl game.
With one home game remaining, the Mountaineers will go to battle against Texas. Texas, like West Virginia, is struggling this season. The Longhorns are 4-6 and they are coming off their worst loss in recent memory, as they fell to Kansas at home in overtime last Saturday.
While this game might not be on the radars of every college football analyst, the West Virginia-Texas series is not one to sleep on. As we briefly look back on the series between the Mountaineers and Longhorns, you will see how back-and-forth and entertaining this series has been.
The Mountaineers and Longhorns have faced off a total of 10 times, with all but one of the games coming from 2012 or later. The two teams met once in 1956, with WVU pulling out a 7-6 victory in Austin, Texas.
When West Virginia first joined the Big 12 Conference in 2012, their first conference road game was one for the ages. Coming in at 4-0 and No. 8 in the nation, West Virginia traveled down to Austin to face the No. 11 Texas Longhorns who were also 4-0.
Coming off a 70-63 win over Baylor, the Mountaineer “air raid” offense was getting national attention. With a Heisman Trophy candidate in quarterback Geno Smith, and two dynamic receivers in Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey, it was rare when WVU didn’t score.
The road matchup against Texas was one for the ages, as both teams found the end zone often. WVU was in business in the first half when they got big touchdowns from both Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey. Running back Andrew Buie also found the end zone in the first half.
The game was back-and-forth, as Texas was able to score on the WVU defense often. WVU found their answer in star receiver Stedman Bailey, as he caught two more touchdowns in the second half, giving him a total of three scores on the day. Up by three late, running back Andrew Buie scored his second touchdown of the day to put the nail in the coffin. WVU escaped Austin with a 48-45 victory.
Texas would go on to win the next two games of the series, which included a heartbreaking loss for the young 2013 WVU team at home late in the season.
WVU didn’t let the Longhorns get on a series winning streak, however, as the Mountaineers took down a struggling Charlie Strong-led team in 2015. Texas scored first, but a fumble return touchdown by Jared Barber really hurt the Longhorns.
After the scoop-and-score, WVU was able to find the end zone consistently with quarterback Skyler Howard. Howard threw for three touchdowns in the game, and added a touchdown on the ground as well. WVU’s defense got the job done, as they held the Longhorns to only 20 points. WVU would take the game by the score of 38-20.
The next season, WVU extended the series lead as senior quarterback Skyler Howard and company led the team to a 10-2 season when not many people gave them recognition.
Howard did not play exceptionally well in this game, as he threw for three interceptions, but the underrated Mountaineer team found a way to win. Running back Kennedy McKoy had two touchdowns on the ground and the WVU defense came up big.
The highlight of the day was when WVU linebacker Kyzir White sacked the Texas quarterback so hard that the ball just fell out of his hands. White recorded the sack and recovered the fumble. WVU’s defense held the Longhorns to only 20 points for the second straight year, as the Mountaineers moved to 8-1 with the 24-20 win.
In 2017, Texas turned things around in the series. WVU was playing well behind star quarterback Will Grier. The day was not good all-around for Mountaineer fans, as it was cold and rainy and the game started with an unfortunate play.
The Mountaineers were at the one-yard line in the first quarter trying to open up the scoring. After getting stopped on first and second down, Will Grier attempted to score on the third and goal play by running it. Grier ran around and dove towards the pylon trying to score the touchdown. Grier fumbled the football out of the end zone, giving Texas the ball. Grier also broke his finger in the process, sidelining him for the remainder of the season.
WVU struggled mightily on offense the rest of the game, as backup quarterback Chris Chugnov was only able to throw one touchdown pass. The Mountaineers were able to get back into the game when Kenny Robinson intercepted a pass from Sam Ehlinger and took it back 94 yards for the touchdown.
Ehlinger got the job done, throwing two touchdowns in the low-scoring affair. Texas came out on top 28-14 in Morgantown to get back on track in the series.
In 2018, WVU was emerging as a top team when they entered Austin. The Mountaineers were 6-1 and ranked No. 13 in the country, while the Longhorns were 6-2 and ranked No. 17.
Behind senior quarterback Will Grier and star receiver David Sills, the Mountaineer offense was must-see TV. Texas was led by quarterback Sam Ehlinger and wideouts Lil ’Jordan Humphrey and Devin Duvernay, so they were able to find the end zone as well.
The game was a shootout the whole way, as both teams found the end zone multiple times in the first half alone. David Sills caught two touchdowns in the first half, while Texas running back Tre Watson had two touchdowns of his own.
Late in the fourth, Devin Duvernay caught a 48-yard touchdown pass to give Texas the lead. With hope dwindling late, Will Grier provided his magic, as he threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to Gary Jennings off of his back foot.
Down by one, head coach Dana Holgorsen elected to go for a two-point conversion to try to win the game. Will Grier didn’t see anyone open, so he ran the ball in the end zone himself, giving WVU the improbable 42-41 victory.
After the amazing 2018 road win, the tides changed in 2019. Texas was ranked No. 11 in the country, while WVU was trying to find its identity with new head coach Neal Brown, and not much returning talent to work with.
In a great college football atmosphere, WVU got the crowd into it early when quarterback Austin Kendall threw a 44-yard touchdown pass to Sam James. That was the last lead the Mountaineers would see, as Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger took over.
Ehlinger threw for two touchdowns in the game, and was able to extend plays and convert multiple third-downs. Ehlinger added two touchdowns on the ground to put the Longhorns in prime position to win.
Austin Kendall threw for three touchdowns, but four interceptions crippled him and the Mountaineer offense. WVU could not overcome the turnovers and fell to the Longhorns 42-31.
In the 2020 matchup in Austin, both defenses came to play, as both teams combined for only 30 points.
WVU only found the end zone one time, and that was from a Leddie Brown touchdown from 12-yards out. Sam Ehlinger threw for two touchdowns, while WVU’s Jarret Doege threw for none.
Texas running back Bijan Robinson added 113 yards on the ground, although he didn’t score. WVU couldn’t overcome the lack of passing game and fell to the Longhorns 17-13 after Texas’s defense came up with a big stop late in the fourth quarter.
With the two most recent games ending in a Texas victory, the series between these teams is now 5-5. WVU will look to take back the series lead against the Longhorns on Saturday. Kickoff is set for noon from Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown.