West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith fumbles the ball as he tries to pass in the second quarter.
Eric Gay/Associated Press
West Virginia's Stedman Bailey leaps for a touchdown pass as Texas' Carrington Byndom defends during the third quarter.
Elisabeth Dillon/Associated Press/The Daily Texan
West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith looks for a receiver during the first quarter.
Eric Gay/Associated Press
West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen, center, talks to players during a time out.
By Jenn Menendez Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
AUSTIN, Texas -- West Virginia's acclaimed offense nearly met its match Saturday night, deep in the heart of Texas.
But Geno Smith and his No. 8 Mountaineers found a way to get it done, beating No. 11 Texas 48-45 to climb to 5-0, and 2-0 in the Big 12.
The win silenced the crowd of 101,851, the largest ever at Darrell K. Royal Texas Memorial Stadium.
It was never easy.
A nearly disastrous turnover late in the fourth quarter almost handed the game back to the Longhorns.
Smith was sacked in his own territory, fumbled, and Texas recovered on the 12.
A bad snap three plays later helped the Mountaineer defense make a key stand, and West Virginia went on to move the chains, scoring again on a rushing touchdown by Andrew Buie.
Buie finished with 31 carries for 207 yards, the night of his career.
Texas was still not done and got a score with 15 seconds to play, an eight-yard pass, but time ran out for the Longhorns.
An onside kick attempt was recovered by West Virginia.
What a strange turn of events left West Virginia trailing 28-27 at halftime for the first time this season.
The Mountaineers went up to a 21-7 lead in the first half and had a chance to stretch that lead to three scores with a fumble recovery at their own 38.
But after a loss of four on the first play, things got odd.
West Virginia ran a flea flicker on the next play, Smith was sacked for a loss of 13 yards and then Buie was hauled down easily on third-and-27.
Dana Holgorsen sent placekicker Tyler Bitancurt out to punt for the first time this year.
His punt was deflected, Texas started on the 50, and just like that the Mountaineers' almost-commanding lead spiraled away.
Texas went three plays to cut the lead to 21-14, then tied it on West Virginia's next possession when Alex Okafor sacked Smith and forced a fumble one the 1-yard line. End Jackson Jeffcoat recovered in the end zone, and it was 21-21.
The Mountaineers were then slowed to a field goal next, but Texas kept going to take a 28-24 lead on a rushing score from the 1 by Joe Bergeron.
With just 1:09 left in the half, Smith drove the team within field goal range, and Bitancurt hit the 41-yarder to keep it 28-27.
In a game when going for it on fourth down was commonplace by both teams, the Mountaineers had converted five-of-five by 10:20 of the fourth quarter.
Smith converted twice on that key drive and finished with a six-yard touchdown pass to Stedman Bailey to take a 41-38 lead with the point after.
The defense came up with a stop that started with a sack by Josh Francis and ended with Pat Miller breaking up a pass on fourth-and-13.
Bailey came out in the third quarter to regain the West Virginia lead with a diving 9-yard catch in the end zone that made it 34-31 with the point after.
Texas marched from its own 42 and got a fourth rushing touchdown from Bergeron form the four to go up 38-34 with the point after.
What was so peculiar about the turn of events was that the defense had gotten two key stands in the half, and Smith was finding Tavon Austin despite tight coverage. The Mountaineers held the Longhorns to a 38-yard field goal to open the second half.