Texas defensive back Caden Sterns (7) celebrates a stop against Oklahoma State in Stillwater, Okla., on Oct. 27, 2018. [NICK WAGNER/AMERICAN-STATESMAN]

Football

Texas vs. Texas Tech: Five key matchups to watch

Posted November 9th, 2018

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Here are five key matchups in the Texas-Texas Tech game to keep your eye on Saturday night:

1. Texas’ Sam Ehlinger vs. Texas Tech DBs

In Texas Tech’s 27-23 win last year in Austin, Ehlinger was picked off twice in the final three minutes. Both players who had those picks — Douglas Coleman III and Justus Parker — are back, though only Coleman has an interception this season. Ehlinger, meanwhile, has thrown only two interceptions since that Tech game and has thrown 246 straight passes without an interception. That school-record streak is quite short of former Louisiana Tech quarterback Colby Cameron’s NCAA standard of 444 pick-less passes, but Geno Smith’s conference record of 273 could be in play this week.

EDGE: Texas

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Here are five key matchups in the Texas-West Virginia game to keep your eye on Saturday:

2. Texas’ Caden Sterns vs. Tech’s Antoine Wesley

Sterns and Wesley were high school teammates at Cibolo Steele, but they’ll line up on opposite sides of the field Saturday night — Wesley is a junior receiver and Sterns is a freshman safety. Wesley leads the Big 12 in both receptions (70) and receiving yards (1,176). He’s scored seven times with one of those being a 66-yarder against Lamar. Sterns has cooled off a bit after a hot start, but the Thorpe Award semifinalist still has nine starts, 39 tackles and a team-high four interceptions.

EDGE: Texas Tech

Here are five key matchups in the Texas-West Virginia game to keep your eye on Saturday:

3. Texas’ Charles Omenihu vs. Tech’s Terence Steele

Omenihu, the Longhorns’ senior defensive end with seven sacks and five additional quarterback hurries, has developed into an All-American candidate. The defense, however rarely got to Will Grier last week. The West Virginia quarterback had 42 pass attempts, too, which left the 6-6, 275-pound end fuming in his post-game interview. Steele, Texas Tech’s 320-pound right tackle and another Cibolo Steele product, has started 33 straight games. Texas Tech is allowing 1.67 sacks per game, which is the NCAA’s 42nd-best mark.

EDGE: Texas

Here are five key matchups in the Texas-West Virginia game to keep your eye on Saturday:

4. Kliff Kingsbury’s quarterback vs. the Texas D

The quarterbacks that have started for the Texas Tech coach through the years have averaged 264.4 passing yards against Texas. That includes Patrick Mahomes II and Baker Mayfield, future first-round picks who accounted for four of those five meetings. McLane Carter threw for 237 yards last year before Nic Shimonek had two touchdowns in relief. Jett Duffey is expected to replace the injured Alan Bowman on Saturday, and the sophomore has never thrown for more than 190 yards. Can he and Kingsbury exploit a UT secondary that has allowed two straight 300-yard games?

EDGE: Texas

Here are five key matchups in the Texas-West Virginia game to keep your eye on Saturday:

5. Horns Up vs. Horns Down

Many words have recently been written about the “Horns Down” signal, which drew two penalties at West Virginia’s expense last week. Texas Tech receiver T.J. Vasher, who has 34 receptions, also drew a similar penalty in 2017. The Horns Down predictably draws the ire of Longhorns, but receiver Devin Duvernay noted this week that “at the end of the day, win and we don’t have to deal with that.” Will Texas score enough to celebrate with its Horns Up, or will the Horns have to witness that taunt from Tech players and fans?

EDGE: Even

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