Iowa State and Texas meet in a matchup that seemingly will send the winner to the Big 12 title game. We asked Burnt Orange Nation and few questions leading up to Friday’s game.
1) Iowa State and Texas are basically going to duke it out for a spot in the Big 12 title game. Similar to 2018, Iowa State just happened to be there and just wasn’t quite ready for that step just yet. 2020 they are more mature and ready. What is the feeling about this Iowa State team for Texas fans?
I don’t think there are many (knowledgeable) fans who are overlooking this ISU squad — they shouldn’t be, at least. By now, we know what the Cyclones have in Brock Purdy, and Breece Hall is a star in the making. The defense has been a bit inconsistent, but it’s one that Texas fans should know can find success against a Longhorns offense that hasn’t looked the part this year. And, of course, momentum is a thing — I don’t think fans consider Iowa State as an elite team, but six wins in seven games speaks for itself.
2) This Texas defense sits middle of the road statistically but has been better as of late as Chris Ash makes his mark in Austin. Giving up right now around 400 yards of offense a game and close to 300 yards through the air. We just saw Brock Purdy play his best game of the year. What is going to be a key for this Texas defense?
Throughout their three-game winning streak, Texas has swarmed the line of scrimmage, totaling nine sacks and 25 tackles for loss, and they’re essentially forcing opponents to become one-dimensional by effectively eliminating the run game. Given what Breece Hall brings to the table, I expect Chris Ash to try to contain him and force Purdy to beat Texas through the air.
3) Flip to the offensive side of the ball. What is going to be the key offensively against this Iowa State defense?
First, the offensive line, which has played pretty poorly this season, needs to keep Sam Ehlinger upright and create running lanes for the backs. But given what’s at stake in this game, Texas almost certainly needs Ehlinger to have one of those games where he establishes an early rhythm and puts the offense on his back.
4) Give us one player that Iowa State fans don’t know yet, but will come at the end of the day on Friday.
For those who follow recruiting, they’re probably familiar with Bijan Robinson, the top-ranked running back prospect from the 2020 class. Robinson started the season behind Keaontay Ingram and Roschon Johnson, but injuries and inconsistencies have seen him become the key option out of the backfield. Now that he’s adjusting the the game speed at this level and learning more, he’s become a factor, averaging 6.1 yards per carry in his last three games.
5) Give us your prediction and why
More than anything else from either team, I have confidence in what the Texas defense is becoming in recent weeks under Chris Ash. The defense paved the way for each of Texas’ three straight wins, and the back-to-back bye weeks were ideal because so many key Longhorns, including Sam Ehlinger, were banged up. For a team that didn’t get to enjoy a normal offseason to learn two new systems with two new coordinators, I think the time to heal and extended practice time will show up on Saturday. Texas wins close, 31-27.