AUSTIN, Texas - The ability of Texas to slow down West Virginia's offense tonight isn't the only factor that will dictate the outcome, but it is certainly high on the short list.
That's a list that also includes - for both sides - eliminating turnovers, getting solid special-teams play and keeping mistakes to a minimum. In other words, doing the basic stuff right, just like any other game in the country.
But there's another basic that the Longhorns have stressed this week. Seems Texas believes that if it is to have any chance of winning, it would behoove the Longhorns to do something they haven't done very well through the first four games of the season.
"We'll give up 70 if we don't tackle well," Texas coach Mack Brown said.
Indeed, when No. 8 West Virginia and No. 11 Texas match 4-0 records tonight at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium (7 p.m. on Fox), what most will be curious to see is how West Virginia's offense fares against what figures to be the best - and certainly most talented and athletic - defense it has faced this season.
In four games this season, the Mountaineers have averaged 53 points and just shy of 600 yards of total offense. Dating back to the Orange Bowl against Clemson in January, WVU has scored 10 touchdowns in three of its last five games, scoring 70 against Clemson and Baylor and 69 (because of a missed PAT) against Marshall.
Sometimes those yards and points come on plays where tackling really isn't an issue - balls thrown deep or into the end zone by Geno Smith, more often than not to Stedman Bailey. But a lot of the damage comes on shorter routes, particularly to Tavon Austin, where a slipped tackle can mean the difference between a short- or medium-range gain and six points.
That's what Texas wants to eliminate.
"The key is to not give up the explosive play. That's what it comes back to,'' said Texas defensive coordinator Manny Diaz. "They can do that by throwing it over your head. They have highlights after highlights of them doing that to people. They also can do it because they can throw it short and have guys that can run away from you.
"It's a run-after-the-catch game, which puts the onus on tackling these great players in space.''