2014 Game VII: Iowa State (2-4, 0-3) vs Texas (2-4, 1-2)
Time: 7:00 PM CDT
Location: Darrell K Royal Stadium, Austin, TX
Line: Texas -12.5
Television: Long Horn Network & Cyclones.TV (Stream (Iowa only) & Cable). For more information on how to watch click here.
Radio: Cyclone Radio Network
If a game is played and no one is able to see it, does it make a sound? With that in mind, this preview gets the same attention that the game will get nationally.
When We Last Left Off...
Iowa State sent Sam B. Richardson in to the record books with 37 completions, and a second half rally held off a plucky Toledo team in a 37-30 victory in Homecoming at Jack Trice Stadium. This was Iowa State's first home win of the season, first since last season's Kansas game, and only it's second since Jake Knott's final game in the 100th Homecoming two years ago.
Texas out gained Oklahoma by 250 yards, but was atrocious on special teams in a 31-26 defeat to their Red River rivals. Texas quarterback Tyrone Swoopes went 27/44 for 334 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception in what is arguably the best game of his young career.
Texas is 10-1 all-time against Iowa State with the lone defeat coming in 2010 when Iowa State traveled to Austin and Riverboat Gambler Rhoads was at his finest.
Iowa State Offense
Hey, Iowa State beat a MAC team! We don't suck
as much again! That should be the prevailing thought going through Cyclone fans' minds right now. Instead it seems most of Cyclone Nation is back on the hype train of a team that is admittedly turning the corner, but played a team that doesn't even come close to resembling a Big XII defense.
Richardson's school record for completions was nice, and he was accurate and smart throughout the day, but problems were still showing up throughout the game. Despite the offense's crisp and efficient execution there were still two sacks allowed and numerous occasions early where Richardson was running for his life. Toledo isn't horrible by any means, but they don't bring the same athleticism to the table that Texas and Oklahoma do, and this should be a concern.
All that said, the emergence of D'Vario Montgomery as a receiving threat will take the heat off E.J. Bibbs, and if the Cyclones can stick to their guns and allow the short passing game to take heat off the offensive line and Richardson then the best days of this offense can be seen in the windshield.
Stop me if you've heard this one before. Iowa State faces a defense this week that excels at one thing, and is below average in another.
Unlike Toledo and Oklahoma State, however, this Texas defense is awful against the run as they rank 84th nationally with 183 yards per game allowed and 3.8 yards per carry. The pass defense though... hide ya kids, hide ya wife, hide poor Sam.
3rd nationally with 134 yards allowed per game, five touchdowns surrendered against nine interceptions, and an 11th nationally ranking in sacks with 21 (which is tied with Baylor).
They achieve this by (again, stop me if you've heard this before) having space suckers in the middle (DT Malcom Brown, 320 pounds, and DT Hassan Ridgeway, 307 pounds), and quick defensive ends on the outside. Pair that up with a scheme from one of the best defensive minds in college football (Charlie Strong) and experienced linebackers and this is a recipe for disaster for opposing offenses. Texas may not be "Texas" this year, but their defense is improving quickly and earning those horns on the side of their helmet.
Texas starts a 6'4", 232 pound redshirt freshman at rush/fox end by the name of Naashon Hughes. No doubt they like his speed on the outside in the pass rush, but his small size has opened up the left side of the field to be attacked by opposing teams.
Texas has surrendered 63 rushes outside the left tackle for 373 yards, or 5.9 yards per carry. A full two yards higher than their season average as a whole.
It just so happens that the Cyclones have been focusing more and more on the left side of the field since Jake Campos' move to left tackle.
The Match Up
No huddle, hurry up offense to start is one of the worst things Iowa State can do for this game. They're going to have to establish the run early to keep Texas honest, but mix in the short yardage game to keep the pressure off the offensive line. Texas is far more athletic and well coached that Toledo (and Iowa State), and trying to cram as many plays as possible in to the game is the wrong approach here.
Iowa State is clearly outgunned here, and shortening the game and keeping Texas' defense on the field is how they'll have success and set up for some up tempo later in the game. Unfortunately, given Texas' athleticism up front it's likely that the Cyclones are going to fall in to the trap of passing to set up the run and play right into the Longhorns' hands.
So far the Texas offense has failed to wow but you can blame a lot of that on the absence of David Ash and the dismissal of 83 offensive linemen. The mere fact that Texas doesn't have receivers playing on the line yet is surprising given the rash of dismissals that Strong has administered. Good on Strong to end the entitlement that permeated the program under Mack Brown, but if I'm Tyrone Swoopes I'm getting tired of being beat up.
Texas ranks a whole two spots above Iowa State in the national total passing rankings (106th vs 108th), and is 98th nationally in rushing with 3.9 yards per carry and only 137 yards per game. Good for them that they're playing a rushing defense giving up 5 yards per carry and an eye popping 7.8 yards per carry along the right side where inexperienced ends Trent Taylor and Darius White get most of the work.
Iowa State Defense
Something something can't stop the run something something.
Improving but lacks depth something something.
Pro: Iowa State's defense is allowing fewer yards per carry from 1st to 2nd to 3rd down.
Con: Those YPC figures are 5.7, 4.6, and 4.8, respectively.
Con: Teams are gaining 82% of their yards on the first two downs of a series against the Cyclones, which almost always puts Iowa State in 3rd and short situations.
Pro: Texas is only averaging 2.9 YPC between the tackles, so we have weakness on weakness here. Advantage: Listening rather than watching.
The Match Up
Johnathan Gray or Malcolm Brown, Power O, rinse, repeat.
Jarvis West's return would really help the punt return game, and for the love of god could we finally get the chance to return some kicks? Iowa State should have an advantage here but it seems every kicker is capable of putting it through the back of the end zone whenever the Cyclones are in town.
WRNL Beer Pick of the Week
My beer fridge is low right now, and unfortunately what is in there is primarily American light lagers (including Natty Light!) that will be used for the Oklahoma tailgate.
Drawing off my knowledge, and the fact I haven't had it in awhile, I'm going to recommend Green Flash's West Coast IPA. It's a Double IPA and is so smooth it'll sneak up on you without knowing it. A great summer IPA it's still great to drink on a cool, crisp fall day like we've been having in Iowa.
Texas is still Texas. They may not be able to stop the run, but they've improved from last season's fiasco, and they have a head coach who can turn any set of athletes in to a great defense. At the end of the day they're still significantly more athletic that Iowa State, and that will be readily apparent on Saturday.
All is not lost though, as Texas has a host of problems on offense that will keep them from blowing this game wide open (save for a lot of turnovers). Tyrone Swoopes will develop into a top Big XII quarterback in time, but he's still learning and is doing so behind a patchwork offensive line. That line has kept his talented running backs from taking over games, and could very well allow Iowa State to stay in the game for all four quarters.
This game won't be pretty. Neither offense does one thing particularly well and consistent, and the Texas defense is athletic enough to make up for any mistakes they make trying to stop Mark Mangino's passing schemes.
Texas will win this game on sheer athleticism alone, but a few well timed turnovers could keep Iowa State in it long enough to steal it.
Iowa State 13
PS - There is a photo of Norman Underwood shirtless with AHF stickers on his nipples. I have it, and I am willing to sell it to the
highest bidder best beer provider.