Iowa State. 6-3 overall, 5-2 in conference play. Ranked in the Top 20. 5 game win streak. Win their final 2 games, and an appearance in the Big 12 Championship Game was theirs...
Unfortunately, for the Cyclones, the Texas Longhorns had other ideas.
Texas came out firing on all cylinders on both sides of the ball. Scoring TD’s on 2 of their first 3 possessions, and held the Cyclones to just 3 points in the first half (3 punts, an interception, and the lone Assalley FG) on 5 drives. The Cyclones couldn’t recover with Montgomery in the 2nd half, and the dreams of a Big 12 Title Game appearance were over.
What Went Wrong
The Cyclones have had a defense to boast about all year. It’s hard to deny the success that John Heacock and the defense has had this season, but unfortunately for the Cyclones, the last 2 weeks have been less than stellar. Last week, they gave up 500+ yards to Baylor at home (got some breaks late in drives to kill the Bears’ momentum) and this week got beat up and down the field by BOTH Sam Ehlinger and Shane Buechele. The 2 Texas QB’s combined for 226 yards and 2 scores. The Longhorns QB’s were successful all game, going a combined 22/25 (Buechele a perfect 10/10.)
The Rush defense wasn’t much better, as the Longhorns managed 179 yards on the ground, with Tre Watson totaling 93 yards on just 14 carries (6.6 yds per carry.) Keaontay Ingram rushed for 57 yards on 12 carries, and Ehlinger piled up 32 yards on 8 carries. Texas used this to keep the Cyclones off the field, and also used this “tempo” to control drives and wear down the Cyclones defense.
This has been an on and off issue for the Cyclones defense. Nothing sums up Saturday night’s struggles like this play late in the 3rd that essentially iced the game for Texas...
The offensive line had improved so much over the season, and whether they just didn’t show up, or if Texas had the right scheme/talent to beat us, it wasn’t a great performance. The Cyclones had little to no run game (also in part to Montgomery being out the first half on suspension) for the entire game. Montgomery led the team with 33 yards (and a late TD) on 10 carries. The rest of the Cyclones had 20 carries for just 29 yards. Texas also broke through for 6 sacks, and it really didn’t matter which QB was in for Iowa State.
What Went Right
Corey Dunn/Punting Unit
It’s probably not a great sign when your punter/punting unit is one of the bright spots of a game, but Dunn was really good on Saturday night. Corey had to kick it to the Longhorns 6 times and averaged 47 yards per kick, and had a long punt of 61 yards. The punt coverage team was also really good. Texas was only able to return 1 of Dunn’s 6 kicks, and only got 7 yards on it. Corey and the punting unit also pinned 3 of the punts inside the 20. Got the job ‘Dunn’ on punts on Saturday.
It’s really hard for me to not include Hakeem on every article. Hakeem was one of the bright spots on offense. The Butler had 6 catches for 99 yards (16.5 per catch.) Unfortunately, Butler wasn’t able to get into the end zone, as the offense struggled all night, but Butler did what he could to try and spark something.
He’s just an impossible 1 on 1 cover for any corner to try and handle. Just keep feeding him, Purdy. Just keep feeding him.
Worth noting, Iowa State will return 29 of 36 players that earned a start this year. This team will be back in this spot for many years to come. Big things are happening in Ames, Iowa. #WinInTheDark