The storylines around Texas and Iowa State are shockingly similar this season. Both programs are 2-4, have made midseason offensive coordinator changes, are breaking in a first year starting quarterback and are fighting for bowl eligibility.
The Longhorns need to continue its ride on the momentum train in Ames with a big showing from the defense. Texas has managed to limited its opponents run game for two consecutive games and will need to be prepared to do the same against a Cyclone offense that has averaged 226 yards on the ground against conference opponents.
A big key for the defense will be to pressure quarterback Joel Lanning, who will make his first career start against the Longhorns Saturday. The more the defense can pressure Lanning, the more likely the inexperienced quarterback will make mistakes.
The previous two games between Texas and Iowa State have been nail-biters. I’m curious if the same will be said following Saturday’s game.
Overall, I think Texas will come away with its third consecutive win, but I am hesitant to predict a blowout.
Texas 35, Iowa State 24
Iowa State doesn’t do anything extremely well. The Cyclones are eighth in the Big 12 in scoring offense (26.9), seventh in rushing offense (178.9), eighth in scoring defense (187), seventh in pass offense (243.6), and seventh in total offense (422.4), eighth in pass defense (278.1), and eighth in total defense (465.1)
Now, ISU is ahead of Texas in a few of those categories (scoring offense, pass offense, and total offense). But the Longhorns have to be licking their chops with sophomore quarterback Joel Lanning making his first start and Todd Sturdy making his debut at ISU’s offensive coordinator.
Lanning provided a much-needed spark against Baylor, which kept that game from being a complete runaway. But I think he’s going to have a tough time with UT’s defensive front and blitzes. If there’s one thing that you do to a new quarterback it’s put pressure on him. Texas will try to do that consistently.
Offensively, we all know Texas has not gotten much accomplished through the air. I think that improves on Saturday, though, not as much as you’d like.
The Longhorns will still try to run the ball first and foremost, and should with the way the offensive line is playing. Let’s see if D’Onta Foreman is able to be himself coming off a toe injury. I think he struggles a bit but there won’t be much drop off with Chris Warren, who has been eagerly awaiting his turn.
I think it’s going to be a weird game. Night game on Halloween. There are going to be some head-scratching moments for Texas. But I do think the better team will find a way to get the job done, and there’s no doubt that the Longhorns are the superior team here.
Texas 27, Iowa State 18
What Texas is doing well right now - running the ball and playing defense - plays well on the road (even with a forecast of rain for Saturday night, as we saw last week).
Everyone would like to see the Horns, who are averaging 55.5 rush attempts the last two games (victories over OU and K-State), use more play-action pass deep.
And this week would be the perfect time to use play-action deep, because Iowa State has one of the worst pass defenses in college football (giving up 354.5 ypg through the air).
So unload the ground-and-pound, two-back run game out of the shotgun with the speed-sweep motion and look for opportunities early to throw deep to John Burt and then use those wheel routes to Daje Johnson and Johnathan Gray we saw in the Cal game.
Honestly, Texas could replicate the offensive game plan for the Cal game (Jerrod Heard 24 carries 163 yards, 3 TDs ... 20 of 31 passing 364 yards ... Daje Johnson 5 receptions for 145 yards ... 274 yards rushing overall).
A new offensive coordinator and quarterback for Iowa State shouldn't make any difference for this Texas defense.
TEXAS 38, Iowa State 17