West Virginia weary of competitive Texas
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Texas coach Tom Herman has been sorting through a lot of firsts in his debut season. The one he's still waiting for is a marquee victory.
The Longhorns (5-5, 4-3 Big 12) are winless in four tries against ranked opponents, and while going on the road to face No. 24 West Virginia (7-3, 5-2) on Saturday wouldn't be a program changer, Herman will take any building blocks in a season that still has some goals within reach.
Already taking heat from Texas fans, Herman so far is pleased with the way his team plays with intensity and is proud of a defense that rebounded from an embarrassing opening-week home loss to Maryland to hold four opponents to 13 points or less.
“Are we learning how to win? Certainly,” Herman said. “But the biggest next step is we've got to win one of these road games against a Top 25 team that most people would think we don't have a chance at doing.”
After beating Kansas 42-27 last week, Texas has two chances left to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2014. The Longhorns host Texas Tech on Nov. 24 in their regular-season finale.
“We're not desperate, but we do know we need to win at least one of the next two games, not just to build on next year but to get our seniors to a bowl game,” said defensive back DeShon Elliott.
Texas lost overtime games to No. 12 USC and No. 10 Oklahoma State, had a close setback to No. 3 Oklahoma and lost by double digits to No. 11 TCU.
“I'm putting everybody on high-alert on this 5-5 thing,” West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said of Texas. “They've done pretty much what we've done. They've beaten teams, then they've lost some close games to really good football teams.”
West Virginia will try to send 20 seniors out with a win in their final home game. Helping them try to get there will be junior Will Grier, who is second in the country with 34 TD passes.
Grier hasn't indicated whether this will be his final home game, too. He's been listed by some prognosticators as a potential pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
“He's as good as we've played, and we've played some really, really good ones,” Herman said.