Iowa State Cyclones (6-3, 4-2) at Texas Tech Red Raiders (5-4, 2-4)
Date: Nov. 13
Time: 2:30 p.m. CT
Place: Jones AT&T Stadium
Line: Iowa State (-10.5)
Talent: Beth Mowins (pxp), Kirk Morrison (analyst), Dawn Davenport (sideline)
SB Nation Site: Viva the Matadors
*All advanced stats provided by SIS DataHub
When we last left off...
Our beloved Cyclones delivered an unrepentant ass-whooping of the tyrant leader of the Big 12, the Texas Longhorns. In fact, the second half was such a thorough ass-whooping that most people have entirely forgotten that Texas was actually leading at halftime, as fragile and unstable as that lead felt to everyone in the stadium.
The Iowa State team that has been just a couple plays and self-inflicted wounds away from a truly special season found itself in a familiar situation then proceeded to out-gain our burnt orange beefy opponent by a whopping 209-to-6 yards, as well as score 21 points which would remain unanswered through the rest of the game.
Meanwhile, Texas had a fun bus ride home:
Oh hell yeah, we’ve got ourselves a clip of Texas’ defensive line coach screaming on the team bus after the loss to Iowa State pic.twitter.com/S1oLsZfPmk— Unnecessary Roughness (@UnnecRoughness) November 9, 2021
Texas Tech Tidbits
Texas Tech is sitting at 5-4 on the season, but is currently staring down the barrel of missing a bowl game again with Iowa State, Oklahoma State, and Baylor left on the schedule to finish this season. Just a few weeks ago, Tech let go of head coach Matt Wells, and has since hired Baylor assistant Joey McGuire, who will take over at the end of the season. Until then Sonny Cumbie will act as interim head coach.
Texas Tech leads the all-time series 11-8, but Iowa State has owned the Red Raiders recently, winning all five matchups so far in the Matt Campbell era.
Iowa State Offense
Last week, Iowa State had great field position for a majority of the game, and it paid off. The Cyclones racked up 476 yards of offense - the 4th highest total of the season - and sent the Texas defense back home with a pissed-off defensive line coach. In the words of Jerry Seinfeld, “that’s a shame.” Iowa State dominated the Longhorns in the 2nd half, and we saw some of the most efficient playcalling we have seen in a while.
After all that last week, Iowa State is now 20th in yards per play on the ground 40th in yards per pass. Also worth noting, Xavier Hutchinson is amongst the best in QBR in the country with an 841.6 rating.
First Key to Victory - If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it
For the first time in a minute, Iowa State was a little bit (dare I say) unpredictable. A mix of run and pass, double passes, and read option switcharoos. It was actually fun not knowing what was going to happen and Texas’ defense was clearly on their heels. It seems like ISU players also have way more fun when the offense is made up of more than the same 5 plays.
Texas Tech Defense
Texas Tech is coming off a bye, but their last outing against Oklahoma was not pretty. They gave up 50+ points for the 3rd time this season. Really, their defense is similar to Texas’. They give up a lot of points, a lot of yards, and don’t tackle well. That’s all I have to say about that.
The Verdict - Iowa State
Iowa State seems to have found its groove. Now is not the time to take a step back and I don’t see that happening.
Iowa State Defense
The Cyclone defense got back to its dominant ways last week against Texas, holding the Longhorns to just 3.2 yards per play, including 3.0 yards per carry on the ground and 3.55 yards per attempt in the passing game. The Cyclones also registered five sacks as a team and recovered two of four forced fumbles (like, actual forced fumbles, not Jason Bean just dropping that shit on the ground out of nowhere).
Aside from school-record sack artist Will McDonald and his 10.0 sacks on the season, Enyi Uwazurike is having his own monster season. While rotating between defensive end and nose tackle, Enyi has racked up 7.5(!) of his own sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss while remaining stout in the run game.
As impressive as Will McDonald has been all season (as well as Mike Rose), you could easily make an argument that Enyi has been the single best Cyclone defender all season. Anybody wondering if JaQuan Bailey’s absence would cause a regression in the Cyclone pass rush has had their questions answered soundly.
After missing the West Virginia game due to a nerve injury, Mike Rose came back against Texas to a mostly normal workload, and looked mostly like his normal self. I’m sure he’s still working his way back to 100%, but I don’t anticipate having anything to worry about in his department.
Outside of getting burned deep once by Xavier Worthy, which ended in an overthrown incompletion, the Cyclone secondary largely did a pretty solid job last weekend. I’m not sure why Texas didn’t try going back to throwing deep, aside from a lack of confidence in either Casey Thompson or Hudson Card, but the Cyclone defense remained unburnt on deep passes for the remainder of the game.
Second Key to Victory - Bottle Up the Run
Tech’s running game is the strength of their offense. With a solid offensive line and senior SaRodrick Thompson taking most of the carries, Tech will likely use the ground game to pick up crucial third downs and generate scores in the red zone. If Iowa State can bottle up the Tech running game and force the Red Raiders to beat them through the air, this game could become tough sledding for the home team in a hurry.
Texas Tech Offense
Texas Tech’s quarterback situation this season has been a bit unstable. Oregon-transfer Tyler Shough was named the starter early on and was having some success, completing about 70% of his passes with a 6:3 touchdown to interception ratio. However, he was injured midway through the Texas game, and hasn’t played since. It sounds like it’s possible, maybe even likely, he makes his return this week, but it’s anybody’s guess at this point in time.
In his place has been Henry Colombi and Donovan Smith, the latter of which got the start this past week. The true freshman Smith finished 17-of-22 passing with 192 yards, one touchdown, and one interception against Oklahoma. The Sooners aren’t exactly an intimidating defense, but that’s still a respectable stat line.
The aforementioned SaRodrick Thompson is the star of the Red Raider offense. The senior is averaging 4.9 yards per rush and has eight touchdowns on the season. He’s not much of a receiving threat, with just five catches on the season, but he’s a dynamic runner capable of taking advantage of space and moving the sticks on third down.
Texas Tech has three receivers that eat up nearly all of their targets. Erik Ezukanma leads the way with 40 receptions, with Kaylon Geiger and Myles Price sitting at second and third with 34 and 23 receptions, respectively. Ezukanma is a big-time threat that Tech will likely try to send deep at least once.
Texas Tech sits next to Iowa State in the conference in terms of traditional team statistics like yardage and efficiency. That’s also true in the running game, where they’re nearly identical with Iowa State in terms of productivity, EPA, and most other notable metrics. In the passing game, Tech’s completion percentage and counting stats look good, but their EPA and Point Earned metrics aren’t so kind, as they grade at only about half as valuable as the Cyclone passing game.
What does that all mean? Basically, Texas Tech gets most of their offensive value out of the running game while they use the passing game mostly to fill gaps and keep the offense moving up the field, but it’s not something that generates much scoring value for them.
The Verdict - Iowa State
This matchup leans Iowa State right off the bat, as it does with nearly every offense the Cyclones line up against, but it has the chance to swing heavily in Iowa State’s favor. If Jon Heacok can bottle up Thompson and maybe force a turnover or two, this game has the potential to become a landslide in Iowa State’s favor. The Tech passing game just isn’t good enough to win a game by itself against a defense good enough to completely eliminate an entire chunk of an offensive gameplan.
Neither team has anything special going on in the 3rd phase of the game, with the teams sitting at 9th and 10th in the Big 12 for kickoff returns at 19 yards a return. Neither has much going on in the punt game eiter.
Both schools sit at 64% on touchbacks, so this week, the special teams phase could be up for grabs.
The Verdict - Texas Tech
Just because they are barely ranked above Iowa State in every stat.
Winning Scale from 1 to 10
Once again they are letting a child write this so 6.9!
Texas Tech hired a new coach this week, but I don’t think that will work in their favor. Mainly because he is not coaching. Iowa State has dominated this series since Matt Campbell has been here, and I don’t see that changing. Iowa State is still playing for a spot in the Big 12 title game, and the Red Raiders are looking for a spot in a bowl game.
Could this be a trap game before Iowa State gets Oklahoma next week? God, I hope not. ‘Clones -10.5, let’s do this.
Iowa State - 38
Texas Tech - 10
Let us know your predictions in the comments below!