Iowa State has needed to make comebacks in its first three games because of the holes it dug for itself. This week the hole proved to be too deep. "Everything that could go wrong for us did go wrong," Iowa State linebacker Jake Knott said.
After making a big fourth down stand deep in their own territory, the Cyclone digging began. Iowa State fumbled a couple of plays later. And again stopped the Longhorns making them settle for a field goal. Down 3-0 after giving Texas the ball twice deep in Cyclone territory, what seemed at the time as a catastrophe averted but instead was just foreshadowing of the misery that lay ahead.
On the kickoff after the field goal Iowa State fumbled it right back. A quick 16-yard touchdown run and Texas was up 10-0 just under 10 minutes into the game.
The next series the Longhorns converted a Jantz interception into a 35-yard field goal to go ahead 13-0 late in the first quarter.
Grateful to be down only 13-0, Iowa State seemed to start the process of climbing out of their hole. Iowa State marched down the field to the Texas 5 yard line and then on a big 3rd down and short play, an off-sides penalty, forcing Iowa State to settle for a short field goal from the Texas 11 yard line, which they missed.
Giving the ball back to Texas Iowa State desperately needed a stop and when faced with a big third and long Cornerback Leonard Johnson delivered, breaking up a pass to Mike Davis for a big third down stop. But again the Cyclones seeming intent to lose decided to keep digging, Johnson head-butted Davis as he was trying to stand up after the play. Personal foul, automatic first down, Johnson is taken out of the game. On the next play Texas Quarterback David Ash found Davis all alone for a long touchdown pass while Johnson, Iowa State's best pass defender watched from the sidelines, giving the Longhorns a 20-0 lead with 10 minutes before halftime.
And the Cyclones kept digging.
The next possession after the kickoff deep in their own territory the Iowa State punter Kirby Vander Kamp's punt was blocked by Texas freshman Mykke Thompson. Another Texas Freshman Josh Turner grabbed the deflected ball and ran it in for a 34-yard touchdown. 27-0 with 4:30 left in the first half.
But, this wasn't enough after last year's humiliating defeat, Texas needed to demonstrate that they could score points without having them hand delivered. With the Cyclones shell shocked Mack Brown knew just the trick, literally. Texas ran a reverse pass play for a 40 yard score with just over a minute left in the half making it 34-0.
Yet the Cyclones showed life, this was comeback Steele Jantz after all. With under a minute the Cyclones marched it all the way to the Texas 16 yard line going for it on 4th and 9 foregoing the field goal for a badly needed TD. But another missed blocking assignment and Jantz was sacked ending the half.
Though most reasonable people had concluded this game was already over the Cyclones weren't done beating themselves and they continued their self-destruction into the third quarter. While keeping the Longhorns off the board they found ways to keep themselves from scoring. Two long runts by James White were called back on holding penalties including a touchdown both resulting in the Cyclones turning it over on downs.
Of course, Iowa State did come back in the fourth quarter just as they had in each of their three previous games scoring twice and holding Texas to just three second half points. But this hole was just too deep; Iowa State was lucky to lose by just twenty three and would have likely had a chance to win if they had made only half as many mistakes. Texas got a big bump for the thrashing they delivered, and while they should get some credit for standing out of the way and letting Iowa State self destruct, Iowa State did more to lose this game than Texas did to win it.
The good news for the Cyclones is that they are the ones digging and they can stop digging at any time. The bad news is that their remaining schedule only gets worse. With five ranked teams remaining (two top ten and three on the road), one previously ranked team on the road (Missouri), and one undefeated team receiving votes lurking just outside the rankings (Texas Tech, also on the road), Iowa State is likely to be favored once more this season against Kansas. Though not being favored hasn't held the Cyclones back yet, so far they are 2-1 in games they were picked to lose.
Iowa State is a good team, probably a top 40 team right now and maybe a top 25 if they could get their act together but with this schedule if they want to go to a bowl game they have to play more than one quarter of football. Then again, at least they aren't Texas A & M and the one quarter they play is the fourth and not the first.