WVU football: Prime-time date scheduled against Texas
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - West Virginia will finally have a night game at home.
The Big 12 announced Monday the Mountaineers will play host to conference co-leader Texas in a 7 p.m. game Nov. 9. It will be televised by Fox. WVU's first four home games this season started at noon.
The Longhorns (5-2, 4-0 Big 12) have won four straight games after a 1-2 start that included back-to-back losses to BYU and Ole Miss. Texas has scored 31, 31, 36 and 30 points in the winning streak after scoring 21 and 23 in its losses.
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WVU'S DEFENSIVE rankings have slid sharply in Big 12 play and one explanation is the lack of pressure on the passer. The Mountaineers (3-5, 1-4 Big 12) have four sacks in five conference games, hardly the sort of consistency needed in a league that passes as much as the Big 12 does.
The Mountaineers had six sacks in non-conference games, but three were against Georgia State. WVU had one sack against Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor and Kansas State and none against Texas Tech - that coming in 50 pass attempts by the Red Raiders. WVU's 1.25 sacks per game ranks No. 113 nationally.
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WHEN WVU allowed Oklahoma State 21 points on 19 possessions in the win at home last month, the defense stopped the Cowboys 14 times on 20 third downs.
After winning 70 percent of the battles that day, WVU has lost at least 60 percent of the time the past three games. Baylor was 11-for-16 (68.75), Texas Tech was 9-for-16 (60 percent) and Kansas State was 8-for-13 (61.54 percent). The Wildcats started 1-for-6.
"You can't point fingers at the offense because we've got to get off the field," nose guard Shaq Rowell said. "That's our goal on defense. The first five games, we averaged about 70 percent on third down (66.27 percent). The last three games, it's dropped off and that's what happens when you don't get off the field. Guys get injured and cramp up and you can't stop people."
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QUARTERBACK CLINT Trickett has started the past four games for WVU, but has as many wins as Paul Millard and Ford Childress did in just starts. He's only completed 49.7 percent of his passes, but has had his two most accurate days in the past two starts - 62.8 percent against Texas Tech and 53.8 percent against Kansas State.
Maybe more importantly, his teammates are finally beginning to learn what to expect from the passer.
"I know he's going to give us a chance deep down the field," receiver Kevin White said. "I know he's not scared to take shots. We've still got to make plays, whoever's back there. I know Clint is going to take a lot of deep shots and let us go up there and get it."
WVU has tried to push the ball deeper down the field with Trickett, and the majority of WVU's long gains through the air have come with Trickett, but he's also helped the receivers draw six pass interference penalties in his starts.
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WVU VISITS TCU Saturday and the Horned Frogs (3-5, 1-4) lead the Big 12 in sacks (24) and interceptions (15). The last team to lead the league in both categories was Nebraska in 1996.
Senior cornerback Jason Verrett leads the country with 36 passes defended - eight interceptions and 28 pass break-ups. Sophomore defensive end Devonte Fields, who was the Big 12's defensive freshman and player of the year last season and the preseason defensive player of the year this season, only had two sacks before an injury forced him to take a medical redshirt.
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TCU PLAYED host to Texas Saturday. The team hasn't played back-to-back home games since 2011. The Horned Frogs are also 27-9 in the regular season following a loss under Coach Gary Patterson and have never lost three in a row in Patterson's 13 seasons.
WVU is on a three-game losing streak. The Mountaineers lost five in a row last season under third-year Coach Dana Holgorsen.
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TCU STARTED the season with Casey Pachall back from last season's suspension that kept him out of the final nine games and saw him enter a drug and alcohol treatment facility. He was injured Sept. 7 and only returned last week.
Trevone Boykin, who has filled in for Pachall this season and last season, averages just 147 yards passing per game and has five touchdowns and seven interceptions. Boykin also has five receptions for 41 yards while receiver Cameron Luper-Echols is 2-for-2 passing for 49 yards and a 38-yard touchdown against Texas.
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.