"Last year Iowa State forced the turnovers, we didn't," said Texas coach Mack Brown. "It was four to one. Tonight we forced the turnovers and if you force a lot of turnovers and take care of the football like we did tonight you're going to win a lot of football games."
In a foreshadowing of future events, the first Longhorn drive started off in great field position at the Texas 43, position that became even better when Malcolm Brown ran for 22 yards on the Longhorns' first play and a horsecollar tackle by Jacques Washington put the ball on the Iowa State 20. But after getting eight yards on first down, the Longhorns were strong-armed and eventually stopped on fourth down when Cody Johnson was stonewalled by Washington at the 11.
But they'd get another chance at it. Four plays later, James White fumbled a handoff from Iowa State quarterback Steele Jantz and Alex Okafor pounced on the loose ball, putting the Longhorns at the Iowa State 29. This drive also bogged down in the red zone, though Texas did get on the board with a Justin Tucker field goal from 33 yards out.
Again, the Longhorns didn't have to wait long for their next chance. On the ensuing kickoff, Quandre Diggs stripped Josh Lenz and Tevin Jackson recovered the fumble, setting up Texas at the ISU 29 for the second consecutive drive. This one had a happier ending, with Fozzy Whittaker capping the drive with a 16-yard touchdown run out of the Wildcat.
Texas started its next possession already in the red zone after Blake Gideon leapt to snare a Jantz pass, returning it 43 yards to the Cyclone 17. But the Longhorn drive went nowhere, and Tucker added a 35-yarder for a 13-0 lead. The news at that point was both good and bad. On one hand, Texas led by two scores. On the other, they'd generated just 13 points — two field goals and one touchdown — out of four consecutive red zone trips.
Those fears had to settle in a bit when Iowa State took the next drive all the way to the Texas 5 for a second-and-three. But the Longhorn defense held, and Zach Guyer missed a 29-yard field goal. The Cyclones' next mistake came via a personal foul on Leonard Johnson that continued a Longhorn drive after Iowa State stopped a Texas third down. On the very next play, David Ash found a wide open Mike Davis for a 48-yard touchdown and a 20-0 advantage.
Texas didn't take its foot off the gas for the rest of the half, scoring again when Mykkele Thompson blocked a punt and Josh Turner returned it for a 34-yard score. Texas then finished the half's scoring with the most unorthodox quarterback-to-receiver pass you'll see.
In the scorebook, the play simply went down as David Ash to Jaxon Shipley. But the play actually started off with Whittaker in the Wildcat. He handed the ball to Shipley on a jet sweep. Shipley then gave the ball to Ash, who had lined up as a wide receiver, on the reverse. After Shipley made the exchange, he streaked down the sideline, and Ash stopped to throw it, a pass that Shipley adjusted to, caught and ran into the end zone for a 40-yard touchdown and a 34-0 halftime lead.
From there, things largely stagnated. Neither team scored in the third quarter, and Iowa State's two touchdowns largely came against a collection of Texas freshmen while the starters rested. For its part, Texas added a third field goal from Tucker, this one a 29-yarder.
After the game, the Cyclones' errors were apparent on the stat sheet. Though Texas gained 400 yards, Iowa State only had 20 fewer yards. Yet the Cyclones never really contested the result because of the bevy of short fields provided the Longhorns, and the missed execution on that vital second-quarter red zone trip of their own.
Both Ash and Case McCoy finished 7-of-12, with Ash passing for 145 yards and two touchdowns and McCoy adding another 110 yards. The running game was mostly held in check, with Texas averaging under four yards per carry (thanks to sack yardage). The four running backs had 163 yards on 31 carries (5.3 per), though 54 of that came on three carries. Shipley paced the receivers with 141 yards and a touchdown on six catches, while Davis had three catches for 72 yards and a score.
Defensively, the Longhorns were able to hound Jantz into a mediocre performance while sacking him three times and collecting two turnovers. The Longhorns also had two huge special teams plays with the recovered fumble on the kickoff and the blocked punt touchdown.
Those plays helped the Longhorns overcome the second-largest home crowd in Iowa State history and moved Texas to 4-0, along with a 1-0 record in the conference. That meshes well with the team goal, which defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said was a conference title.
"It's really big to be 4-0," Brown said. "I'm not sure a lot of people would've thought five weeks ago we would've been 4-0 right now. Guys are playing with a lot of confidence. We know a lot more about us now than we did when we started the season and coming up to a better Iowa State I think than we played last year on the road, with one of their largest crowds ever, undefeated this is a big win for us."
The Longhorns will move on to play Oklahoma next Saturday at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.
TEXAS — Justin Tucker 33 FG, 7:30 1Q
TEXAS — Fozzy Whittaker 16 run (Tucker kick), 5:35 1Q
TEXAS — Tucker 35 FG, 3:23 1Q
TEXAS — Mike Davis 48 pass from David Ash (Tucker kick), 10:18 2Q
TEXAS — Josh Turner 34 blocked punt return (Tucker kick), 4:30 2Q
TEXAS — Jaxon Shipley 40 pass from Ash (Tucker kick), 1:17 2Q
IOWA STATE — James White 2 run (Zach Guyer kick), 11:33 4Q
TEXAS — Tucker 29 FG, 6:31 4Q
IOWA STATE — Chris Young 18 pass from Steele Jantz (Guyer kick), 3:50 4Q