3 storylines to watch against West Virginia

05 Nov By
College World Series
Senior center Derek Kerstetter and the Texas offensive line face a stiff challenge against the West Virginia defensive line, one of the Big 12's best (photo courtesy of texassports.com).

With Texas riding a two-game winning streak, and West Virginia at a high point after last weekend's 37-10 win over Kansas State, there will be a lot on the line as two talented-but-sometimes-overlooked teams continue to fight to keep their Big 12 title hopes alive.

Saturday's contest kicks off at 11 a.m. Saturday at Darrell K Royal-Memorial Stadium, and can be seen on ABC.

Here are three storylines to watch as the Longhorns attempt to take down the Mountaineers in the first game of November.

WVU defensive line to test UT offensive line
With four all four starters on the West Virginia defensive line having totaled three or more sacks on the season, the Texas offensive linemen — senior center Derek Kerstetter, senior right guard Denzel Okafor, junior left tackle Samuel Cosmi, sophomore left guard Junior Angela and sophomore right tackle Christian Jones — will have a challenge on their hands. With running back Keontay Ingram out of the Texas backfield due to an ankle injury, Texas may be forced to go to the passing game more than it has up to this point, and that is where West Virginia can take advantage. The Mountaineers have been stellar at pressuring the quarterback this season, posting a team total of 20 sacks, meaning Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger will have less time to pass the ball, which can often lead to mistakes by the offense. Keep an eye on defensive lineman Ahkeem Mesidor, who has a team-high four sacks for 23 yards of loss.

Leddie Brown vs. Joseph Ossai
If there is one piece of this West Virginia offense who will challenge the Texas defense, it is Mountaineers running back Leddie Brown, who ranks second in the Big 12 with 624 rushing yards. He has also scored the bulk of the team's touchdowns (8). But the Texas defense also has played at a high level as of late, shutting down Oklahoma State's star running back Chuba Hubbard in the 41-34 overtime win last Saturday. The Horns are led by JACK Joseph Ossai, who can rush off the edge, drop back in coverage or stop the run as a middle linebacker. Ossai played perhaps his best game of his collegiate career last Saturday, tallying three sacks, 12 tackles and six tackles for loss.

Will history repeat itself?
The last time these two squared off in Austin, West Virginia managed to squeak out a 42-41 victory. The top-25 matchup ended with West Virginia completing a two-point conversion in the final seconds.

In 2020, these two are ready to go at it again, tied in the Big 12 standings at 3-2. Do not expect a different result, as all signs are pointing toward a close contest. West Virginia boasts one of the best defenses in the league, with the second-fewest points allowed per game (19.8) and fewest yards allowed per game (255.7). On the other hand, UT's offense averages the most points per game in the conference (44.3).

West Virginia leads the relatively new series between the schools, 5-4, although Texas won last year's meeting in Morgantown handily, 42-31.

Riley Zayas is a high school sophomore and freelance journalist from Round Rock, Texas. He began his journalism career as a Sports Illustrated Kids reporter and has since become a regular contributor to Horns Illustrated, covering Texas Longhorn sports. His work also includes Fellowship of Christian Athletes publications, College Baseball Nation and Sports Spectrum, a national christian sports website. He currently serves as the Managing Editor of True To The Cru, covering UMHB athletics. Twitter: @ZayasRiley