West Virginia got aggressive. And it won the Mountaineers the game.
QB Will Grier scored a two-point conversion with 16 seconds left after throwing a great touchdown pass to Gary Jennings Jr. for a 42-41 win for the No. 13 Mountaineers over No. 17 Texas.
Texas scored a touchdown to take a 41-34 lead with less than three minutes left but Grier calmly drove the Mountaineers down the field and found Jennings with a dime for the game-winning touchdown on a 33-yard completion.
— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) November 3, 2018
But instead of going for the tie and potentially overtime, West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen chose to go for the win on the road.
“That’s an easy decision when you’ve got [Grier] at quarterback and [David Sills] at receiver,” Holgorsen said after the game.
He was more emphatic toward his players after Grier’s pass to Jennings.
“Hey, you want to win the game? Let’s win the game….”
— Dub Maddox (@CoachDubMaddox) November 3, 2018
The call was bold; West Virginia is still on the periphery of the College Football Playoff with just one loss. A failed conversion would mean no playoff and, likely, no Big 12 championship game appearance.
But Holgorsen displayed some aggressiveness that football needs on a more regular basis and was rewarded handsomely. Texas spent two timeouts before the conversion. The second came right before Grier hit Sills in one-on-one coverage for the two.
The game between the two schools was a de facto semifinal for the Big 12 title game. Texas and West Virginia entered the day tied with Oklahoma atop the conference with one Big 12 loss each. With Oklahoma playing Texas Tech (two conference losses) Saturday night, the weekend was a way for the winners to separate themselves in the conference race.
Texas’ Sam Ehlinger continues his emergence
Grier was fantastic as usual. He threw for 346 yards and three scores. But he was matched by Texas QB Sam Ehlinger, who continues his maturation into a quarterback capable of playing at the level of Grier and Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray.
Ehlinger was 24-of-35 for 356 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed 11 times for 52 yards and a touchdown. Even though Texas lost to Oklahoma State last week — and is on a two-game losing streak — Ehlinger has accounted for eight touchdowns in the last two games.
Is this West Virginia’s year?
November has loomed large since West Virginia’s 2018 schedule was announced. The Mountaineers have not had a season with fewer than three losses since joining the Big 12 in 2012. This seems to be their best chance to win the conference. After beating Texas, West Virginia has games remaining against TCU, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma. Those first two are winnable, even though the game against the Cowboys is on the road.
If West Virginia wins those games or even splits them, the season-ending game on Nov. 23 against Oklahoma will probably be for the regular season Big 12 title. And could serve as a precursor to a rematch in the Big 12 title game a week later. With both Oklahoma and West Virginia potentially playing for the College Football Playoff over those two weeks, the Big 12 is setting up for a fascinating finish to the season.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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