Photo Courtesy: Aaron E. Martinez/American-Statesman / USA TODAY NETWORK
With the chance of inching themselves one step closer to a potential Big 12 Conference regular season title, the Longhorns looked to sidestep the Cyclones in their last trip to Ames, Iowa. Led by dominant play on the defensive line, the Longhorns outlasted Iowa State on the road, securing their first 10-win regular season since 2009 with a 26-16 win.
After Iowa State offensive lineman Jarrod Hufford called out the Longhorns on Tuesday in front of the local Iowa media, the Texas defensive line was ready to pin their ears back on Saturday. Shortly after the first whistle, it was evident that Hufford’s comments did nothing to silence the Longhorns as Texas defensive linemen Byron Murphy, Alfred Collins and T’Vondre Sweat all continued to wreak havoc against another Big 12 Conference opponent. In fact, the Cyclones were able to run for a total of just 9 rushing yards on 21 carries. Additionally, both Murphy and Collins were able to get to the quarterback, while Sweat showcased his active hands by both deflecting a pass and blocking an extra point attempt.
With another stellar performance by the defense, the Longhorns offense had to do its job – stay efficient and score when the opportunity presented itself. Other than a Xavier Worthy fumble in the second quarter, the Texas offense was quiet in the turnover department. Furthermore, while the offense itself was not flashy, it was enough to get the job done. Sparked by Quinn Ewers’ 281 yards and two touchdown passes, one to Jordan Whittington and the other to Gunnar Helm, the Longhorns offense did just enough to put up another ‘W’ in the win column.
Following Ewers’ 31-yard touchdown pass to Helm with 14:52 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Cyclones had just about spun themselves out. However, on a fourth-and-one attempt on the ensuing drive, Cyclones quarterback Rocco Becht found tight end Easton Dean on a 66-yard touchdown pass that was the result of a blown coverage. With the Dean touchdown reception, Iowa State then trailed Texas by only seven points with 12:44 remaining in the game.
However, when the Longhorns needed a clock-draining scoring drive to potentially ice the game, freshman running back CJ Baxter and the Texas offense answered. For the first time in his young career, Baxter eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark with a massive 117-yard day – continuously putting the Longhorns in advantageous situations all night. Eventually, the Longhorns offense chewed up six and a half minutes of playing time and answered with a 42-yard Bert Auburn field goal, settling the score at 26-16 with 6:14 left in the contest.
Next Friday, the Longhorns will host the Texas Tech Red Raiders at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin, TX. Kickoff for the Black Friday game is scheduled for 6:30 P.M. (CT) in a contest which will be televised on ABC. With a win, the Longhorns would become the Big 12 Conference’s regular season champions and would punch a ticket to Arlington for the conference title game as well.