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Players to Watch: Texas

Back-to-back elite backfields

Syndication: The Des Moines Register Bryon Houlgrave/The Register / USA TODAY NETWORK

Iowa State

Offense: Xavier Hutchinson has been far and away Hunter Dekkers’ favorite target on the season. He was targeted 17 times on 38 passes last weekend against Kansas State, and I suspect that while he might not get a full 17 yet again, he’ll be the #1 guy once again against a very good Texas defense.

Syndication: The Des Moines Register Bryon Houlgrave/The Register / USA TODAY NETWORK

Hutchinson had a solid game against Kansas State overshadowed by a late drop on 4th down that essentially ended the game. A play he makes 99 times out of 100 just so happened to rear that ugly “once” at the most inopportune time. Look for him to redeem himself and put that behind him in yet another high-target, high-usage game in Austin.

Defense: The Cyclones have had a great season stopping the run, but while the secondary has plenty of studs, they’ll need to step up this weekend against quarterback Quinn Ewers and wide receiver Xavier Worthy. I’m looking at the Cyclones’ CB duo of Myles Purchase and T.J. Tampa this week. They’re both excellent tacklers and they’ve had their moments in pass defense, but they’ll need to both be on their A-game against the Longhorns.

Ewers and the Longhorns lit up Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry for almost 300 yards and 4 touchdowns in the air, and they’ll look to build off that against the Cyclones' secondary.

Special Teams: How about new Ray Guy Award watchlist member Tyler Perkins? Tyler has quietly had a nice season for the Cyclones in the punting game. Averaging almost 45 yards per punt with a long of 61, and he's put almost half his punts (9 of 22) inside the 20-yard line.


Offense: I talked a lot about Texas’ passing game and the Cyclones' secondary needing to be good, but the player to watch here for the Longhorns is Bijan Robinson. Bijan has found the end zone in 5-straight games and has broken the century mark in 4-straight. He’s averaging right around six yards per carry and the Cyclones’ will need to limit that in order to pull the upset.


Defense: Texas has quite a defense this year. With guys like DeMarvion Overshown and Jaylan Ford, it’s hard not to pick one of the linebackers as a guy to watch. And while those guys are great, I’ve actually got my eyes on the secondary. Doubling up with #5 this week with D’Shawn Jamison. He has been a thorn in the side of opposing QBs all season. Picked up his second INT of the season against OU last week and has added 5 passes defended and a sack. He’ll be a guy that Dekkers will have to know the location of for the whole game.