Iowa State vs. Texas: Keys to Victory

In what should be a soggy atmosphere in Austin Saturday afternoon, Iowa State will need to get its rush game and Seneca Wallace going early to keep a stout defense from repeating last weekend's draining experience in Norman. Here are three keys to a Cyclone victory over the Longhorns.

Wallace's early recovery

How much will Seneca's week away from off-field dealings with the press help him get his confidence back against one of the nation's toughest defenses? That will be evident by how Wallace opens Saturday afternoon's game against Texas.

The Cyclone coaching staff made their star quarterback unavailable for Tuesday's press conference and any further activities the rest of the week.

Refreshed and coming off a good week of practice, Wallace will need to get his offense untracked early in what should be a damp environment at Memorial Stadium. But he will need to get it done early before Texas' third-ranked defense has any opportunity to plant seeds of doubt.

Keeping the pressure on

It's been well publicized how much Texas quarterback Chris Simms struggles when pressured. Texas' offensive front has allowed 19 quarterback sacks in seven games this season. The Cyclones would like nothing better than getting pressure on the Longhorn quarterback early and take him out of his rhythm.

One of few positives from last weekend's Oklahoma game was ISU's ability to pressure quarterback Nate Hybl. The defense sacked the Sooner quarterback four different times to bring up some long passing downs. They need to keep it up against a more talented passer in Simms.

Establishing time of possession

Facing the Big 12's leader in this category on a wet field should be a big concern. Texas has struggled putting up numbers on the ground, because of its propensity for taking key sacks for big losses with Simms, and as a result ranks 71st nationally in rushing offense.

But that should not reflect on Cedric Benson, the conference's third-leading rusher with a 105-yard average. The Longhorns will try to get him going behind an offensive line that includes Derrick Dockery, Robbie Doane and Tillman Hollway to run some clock in dreary conditions.

A key for ISU's offense is to better convert on third downs this week to maintain offensive possession and not force its defense into playing more than 90 snaps like last weekend. Seneca Wallace and company failed to convert on all 12 third-down opportunities against the Sooners.

Coach Dan McCarney will need marked improvement out of his team, which faces a Texas defense that leads the conference in offensive third-down conversions allowed (only 25 on 100 attempts).

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