West Virginia, Texas fight to stay on course for bowl eligibility

Field Level Media

November 18, 2021 at 7:11 pm.

West Virginia hosts Texas in a Big 12 game between teams trying to stay in the running to become bowl eligible on Saturday in Morgantown, W. Va.

The Mountaineers and Longhorns have struggled this season, both bringing 4-6 overall records into a game that will eliminate one of them from any postseason consideration. Both teams have to win their final two games to become bowl eligible.

West Virginia and Texas also find themselves tied for seventh place in the Big 12 with 2-5 records in conference play.

The Mountaineers have dropped two straight games, the latest a 34-17 loss at Kansas State on Nov. 13 that came down to the fourth quarter. After West Virginia scored with more than 11 minutes remaining to cut its deficit to 24-17, Kansas State made the plays to win the game.

Jarret Doege passed for 268 yards and two touchdowns and uncorked two interceptions for West Virginia. Leddie Brown rushed for 85 yards on 20 carries but also fumbled in the fourth quarter.

“Our guys played hard, but playing hard is not good enough,” West Virginia coach Neal Brown said. “You’ve got to play smart, and we just don’t play smart — and we turned the football over.”

The Longhorns head north for the do-or-die game on the heels of an embarrassing 57-56 home overtime loss to Kansas on Nov. 13. It was the Jayhawks’ first Big 12 road win since 2008. Texas has lost five straight games, its longest such streak since 1956 when it lost its final eight contests of the year.

Casey Thompson passed for 353 yards and six touchdowns including an 8-yarder in overtime to Marcus Washington to give Texas its first lead of the game. But Kansas responded with a touchdown and two-point conversion to send the Longhorns into head-scratching mode, again.

“Clearly everybody’s upset,” Texas coach Steve Sarkisian said Monday. “Everybody feels the frustration in what has occurred. But I can assure you nobody’s more upset, nobody’s more frustrated than we are in the performance.”

Sarkisian announced Monday that star running back Bijan Robinson will miss the rest of the season because of a dislocated elbow injury he suffered in the loss to Kansas. Robinson had racked up 1,127 yards rushing through the first 10 games, in the process becoming the first Texas player since 2016 to reach the 1,000-yard mark.

Texas starting cornerback Josh Thompson is also out the rest of the season with a fractured fibula.

The Longhorns have won three of their past four meetings with West Virginia, including wins in Morgantown in 2017 and 2019.