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Game Preview: #22 Texas Longhorns at Iowa State Cyclones

Photo: John Gutierrez-USA TODAY Sports

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After clawing back from a 14-point deficit and defeating Kansas State at home last weekend, the Texas Longhorns (6-3, 4-2) hit the road this week and travel to Ames, Iowa to face the Iowa State Cyclones (5-4, 3-3).  The Longhorns hold a 3-game win streak against Iowa State, and a 6-1 record when playing at Jack Trice Stadium.  The Cyclones have lost four games on the season, including a near upset over #9 Oklahoma last week.  Matt Campbell’s team scored 20 unanswered points in the fourth quarter and went for two against the Sooners. Brock Purdy’s pass was intercepted by Parnell Motley in the end zone with :24 left on the game clock, sealing an Oklahoma victory in Norman.  The four losses by Iowa State have come by a combined 11 points and three of those losses have come at the hands of ranked opponents (Iowa, Baylor and Oklahoma). The Cyclones’ remaining loss was to Oklahoma State.

For Texas, a win in Ames is essential to remain in contention for a Big 12 Championship Game berth.  Tom Herman’s team became bowl eligible last weekend, and they will likely need a perfect record through a final slate of games which includes the Cyclones, Baylor and Texas Tech.  This weekend’s game marks Texas’ 5th road game of the season – they have gone 2-2 in road contests this season.

What: Texas Longhorns (6-3, 4-2 Big 12) vs. Iowa State Cyclones (5-4, 3-3 Big-12)
When: Saturday, November 16, 2019
Time:  2:30 PM CST
Venue: Jack Trice Stadium
Location: Ames, Iowa
Television: FS1
The Line: Iowa State -7

Last Meeting Between the Two Teams: Texas defeated Iowa State 24-10 (November 17, 2018, Austin, TX)
All-Time Series Record: Texas leads Iowa State 14-2

The Coaches

Iowa State Cyclones

Head Coach:  Matt Campbell
Head Coaching Experience: 8th year as a head coach
Years as Head Coach at Iowa State:  3
Career Record:  59-38
Career Record at Iowa State:  24-23

Texas Longhorns

Head Coach:  Tom Herman
Head Coaching Experience: 5th year as a head coach
Years as Head Coach at Texas:  3
Career Record:  45-17
Career Record at Texas:  23-13

Should we talk about the weather?

With game-time temperatures projected to be in the upper 30’s in Ames, the Longhorns need to be prepared for cold weather.  Austin has experienced similar temperatures this week and Tom Herman has utilized it to acclimate his players to what awaits them on Saturday. Cold weather can alter the planning, execution and outcome of football games, especially if you aren’t prepared for it. Herman isn’t worried about the temperature’s effect on his guys and won’t spend a lot of time, if any, addressing it with his team.

“But, again, temperature is way down the list in terms of things that — weather phenomenon that you gotta deal with when it comes to football. We’ve got sweats and tight and gloves. They will be fine. They will be running around, I’m sure we will have heaters on the sidelines.”

Injuries – Who Plays on Saturday?

The Longhorns hoped to have WR Collin Johnson back on Saturday after suffering a hamstring injury on the last drive in the Kansas State game. Johnson hasn’t practiced this week and will travel with the team to Ames, but don’t expect him to play much, if at all.

RB Jordan Whittington was cleared prior to the Kansas State game and was available in an “emergency situation” against the Wildcats. Whittington didn’t play and is still dealing with pain issues related to his sports hernia surgery. Whittington could see time against the Cyclones if he has progressed appropriately headed into game day.

DB Chris Brown will make his return to the secondary, but he will have a cast on. Brown fractured his forearm in the Oklahoma game and hasn’t played since. Brown’s appearance back in the lineup comes a week after the secondary received a much-needed boost by the return of injured safeties Caden Sterns and BJ Foster.

DB DeMarvion Overshown and LB Jeffrey McCulloch appear to have recovered from their respective injuries and are expected to play.  OG Junior Angilau will remain sidelined with a knee injury.

Iowa State’s Offense vs. Texas Defense

Sophmore quarterback Brock Purdy leads a Cyclone offense that ranks 16th in the country in total offense.  Purdy took one one the chin last year in Austin, throwing for just 130 yards and an interception. Don’t expect him to replicate those stats, as he’s quickly become one of the best quarterbacks in the Big 12. He threw for nearly 300 yards against the Sooners last week in Norman, and had 5 passing touchdowns. Big Cyclone tight end Charlie Kolar leads his team in TD receptions with 6, and Texas will have to find an answer for him to avoid big plays and quick points. Purdy uses an array of receivers to get the job done, but the Longhorns need to pay particular attention to Deshaunte Jones and Tarique Milton. Both are play-makers for Iowa State OC Tom Manning. Texas held Kansas State to just 17 points and 51 rushing yards in their win over the ranked Wildcats. If the Todd Orlando’s defense can pick back up where they left off, the Longhorns have a good chance at the upset.  Generating a pass rush and being smart on the blitzes are critical if Texas wants to leave Ames with a win.

Texas Offense and Iowa State’s Defense

Despite throwing interceptions in consecutive games, Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger leads an extremely capable offense. The Longhorns average 476 yards per game and rank 20th in total offense. They also rank in the top 20 nationally in 3rd down conversions (4th), first downs (8th), scoring offense (14th), red zone offense (16th), passing offense (16th), completion percentage (19th). With Collin Johnson doubtful, or at least limited in snaps, Longhorn fans can expect to see more action from wideouts Jake Smith and Marcus Washington. The Texas running game continues to improve, with both Roschon Johnson and Keaontay Ingram getting things moving on the ground. Ingram had a career-high 139 rushing yards and two TD’s in the Kansas State game, surpassing the century mark for the third time this season.  The offensive play-calling also included 14 rushes for Ehlinger against the Wildcats.

Iowa State’s defense is no pushover and the ‘Horns shouldn’t look past them. The Cyclones give up just 359 total yards per game and rank 43rd nationally in total defense. They allow 128 rushing yards per game, and 231 passing yards per game.

Summary

Texas had to play from behind after just the third snap of the football game last week in Austin. Iowa State scored 20 straight points in the 4th quarter last week to almost upset #9 Oklahoma on the road. If Ehlinger and the Texas offense can get things cranking early and minimize Cyclone scoring late in the game, the Longhorns will put themselves in position to win. Texas is 19-1 under Tom Herman when outgaining its opponent and 18-2 when outrushing its opponent. With the unpredictability of the Texas defense nine games into the season, the offensive production (or lack thereof) will dictate this game as a win or loss.

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Aaron Carrara is the founder and publisher of HornSports and has covered University of Texas athletics since 2011. Aaron is a member of the Football Writer's Association of America and the U.S. Basketball Writer's Association and is a proud father to three boys.

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