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West Virginia-Texas final score: 3 things we learned from the Longhorns' 33-16 victory

The Mountaineers officially excuse themselves from the Big 12 race as the Longhorns controlled the game for 60 minutes.

Perhaps the Charlie Strong experiment is working out.

Texas smashed the visiting No. 23 West Virginia Mountaineers, 33-16, in front of a raucous Austin crowd on Saturday afternoon. It was the Longhorns' second straight dominating win, and their first W over a ranked opponent under Strong.

For Texas, the formula for victory was as simple as it gets in the sport: smash harder than the other guys. Texas established the run game early and got solid outings from both of its top tailbacks; Malcolm Brown was a workhorse with 90 yards on 20 carries and Johnathan Gray hit the century mark with 101 yards and three scores on 10 rushes as Texas simply wore down the Mountaineers' front seven. And to be clear, this is a function of a superior offensive line: quarterback Tyrone Swoopes was never sacked on 29 attempts.

On the other side of the ball, Texas was laying the lumber and imposing its will on the normally high-octane West Virginia offense. Here's Clint Trickett trying to find Jordan Thompson on a pass downfield ...


... and there's Quandre Diggs forcefully separating Thompson from the ball. It was like that all game long, and when Texas dumped Trickett for a safety in the fourth quarter, it felt like less of a surprise and more of an appropriate exclamation point for Texas' defensive performance.

West Virginia did manage two late touchdowns to bring the score back to respectability, but let's be clear: the last time this game was in single digits was with about six minutes gone in the second quarter.

Three things we learned

1. Yep, it's still Texas. For all the forgettable games Texas has suffered through this season, it's always been evident that this is, y'know ... still Texas. Texas should be able to do this fairly frequently; the Longhorns have recruited so well for so long that by sheer talent, Texas is almost always on the advantage. That edge in physicality and athleticism was jarringly apparent, and it took West Virginia's offensive identity right off its tracks.

2. Tyrone Swoopes still has work to do. West Virginia's defense is not exactly a world-beating unit, but Swoopes was held in check for virtually the whole game. His final numbers were positively pedestrian --11-of-29, 124 yards, 0 yards rushing -- and Swoopes' inability to generate offense in the fourth quarter let West Virginia hang around for longer than Strong probably would have liked (insofar as you can call a team that never seriously challenges for the lead "hanging around"). Swoopes is a first-year starter, so you can understand the growing pains, but these are concessions that Swoopes won't get as a junior next year. He has the gifts; he's got to produce.

3. Exeunt the Eers. I generally don't like the "contender/pretender" distinction (rarely is it so binary) but West Virginia has gone from "achingly close to serious Big 12 contention" to "also-ran" in the span of two weeks, first with last week's heartbreaker against TCU then with this mess. That drops WVU to 6-4 (4-3) with KSU coming to town next week, so it could turn into a fall off a cliff in a hurry. At its core, the slide is about what has plagued West Virginia for a while now: its inability to handle physicality. Trickett is a talented thrower, but he got worked in this one, and he's not big enough to withstand punishment. His confidence (or at least the gumption in his throw choices) seemed to wane as the game went on as well. If West Virginia ever wants to regain its national stature, that physical mediocrity (up front, at QB, everywhere) has to change.