It seems like a monumental task. After a loss to Iowa, the Cyclones must re-group and make the trip to Austin to battle the defending champs. It's the football equivalent of changing the difficulty on NCAA '07 from All-American to Heisman. We all know what the experts expect. The folks in Vegas expect a four touchdown beat-down. That said, Texas isn't infallible.
It seems like a monumental task.
After a loss to Iowa, the Cyclones must re-group
and make the trip to Austin to
battle the defending champs. It's the football equivalent of changing the
difficulty on NCAA '07 from All-American to Heisman. We all know what the
experts expect. The folks in Vegas expect a four touchdown beat-down. That said,
Texas isn't infallible. Let's take
a look at the keys for tomorrow's match-up.
The turnovers have to come. They
are more essential than any part of the game tomorrow.
State was fourth in the nation in
turnovers forced a year ago, with a dazzling 35. Currently they have only four
takeaways, good for 80th in the nation. The defense isn't strong
enough to force several three and outs. With the new clock rules and the
shortened game, the takeaway is even more valuable. The lack of playmaking by
the defense can also be a strong reason why the offense hasn't been as
productive. It's a lot easier to take the short field and score. They need at
least three turnovers from the Longhorns tomorrow. Colt McCoy is a savvy kid for
a freshman, but anything can happen in your first Big 12 start.
State needs to force him into some
mistakes. Texas has put the ball
on the turf four times this year, and has thrown two picks. They can be a bit
careless with the football. Iowa
State needs to pounce on each and
State has 13 Texans on its roster and
three of the four captains from the Lonestar state. These guys love going home
and play with an extra level of emotion. It may not seem like much, but ISU has
won two straight conference games in the state, pummeling A&M last year
42-14 and defeating Baylor in Waco
26-25 in 2004. Although they lost to a very talented TCU team (a game they
should have won) Iowa
State played with great emotion in
the Houston bowl. A lot of these
guys were passed over by UT and would love to show their stuff on the football
field. They played against the Longhorn players in high school and won't be
intimidated by the burnt orange. With an extra level of emotion, who knows what
State will go to the air early and
often. The entire Texas defense is
stout, but they are more susceptible to the pass than the run.
Texas is 46th in the
nation in pass defense, giving up 180 yards per game. However, they have faced
only one true passing team in Ohio
Texas and Rice like to run the football.) The Buckeyes and Troy Smith amassed 275 yards through the air and found little resistance from the
Longhorn secondary. This is an experienced back four for UT, but they did give
up chunks of yardage to USC in the Rose Bowl as well. By no means, am I saying
ISU has the talent of Ohio
State or USC, but they do have some
weapons that could move the ball down the field against UT. Expect
State and Bret Meyer to have over 40
attempts through the air on Saturday. It's probably the only way they can move
And we have yet to see the passing
game click on all cylinders. From what I've heard,
State spent a little extra time in
practice working on the passing game. Expect a sharper, dangerous aerial
assault. And beware of the lethal, lanky one. Mr. Blythe is focused and
determined to make a statement.
Iowa State will need all they can
get from #1 and the rest of the receivers. Also, look for the Cyclones to attack
with the tight-ends more than we have seen in recent weeks. The
Texas linebackers are great
against the run, but have struggled a bit in pass coverage. ISU may even split
out Walter Nickel in the slot, to capitalize on match-ups. They need to get
everyone involved. Don't be surprised if you see Marquise Hamilton get more
snaps as well.
has the Beef:
offensive line truly has five players that will play on Sunday. This isn't spin
from the ISU coaches, they really are that good. It could be a long day for
young front four. The ISU front has done an admirable job in the first three
games, but these dudes make Iowa's
O-line pale in comparison. They are big, fast, and dominate the line of
scrimmage. Don't be deceived by the seven points
Texas put up against OSU.
Texas was able to run the ball
with ease, but they were bit by the turnover bug. They put up 190 yards on the
Buckeyes in only 30 attempts. I shudder to think what they may be able to do
against ISU's young line.
Road Ranked Woes:
Although ISU has won two straight
conference games in Texas, the
Cyclones have not been good against ranked teams at any time in the away
jerseys. Dan McCarney is 0-20 in road games against ranked teams.
State hasn't won an away game against
a ranked team since 1990, when Jim Walden's squad defeated
Oklahoma. That's a stretch of 30+
games. But, all streaks have to end at some point. I think 16 years has been
Nowhere to Run:
State is 43-11 under Coach Mac when
they out-rush opponents. That is going to be difficult to do on Saturday.
Texas has given up 75 yards on 77
carries. A number so staggering, I'm speechless.
State has run well, but don't expect
that to happen on Saturday. The
Texas defense gave up a mere 51
yards against North Texas in week one. And only eight
rushing yards. That was with the Longhorn second-stringers playing most of the
second half. Iowa
State will have to air it out if they
expect to stay in this game.
It should be fun. Now is the time to shock the world.