Saturday night’s game in Ames is being called a trap by many, but losing three out of your last four there makes Jack Trice Stadium simply seem like a tough place to win for the Texas Longhorns (9-1, 6-1). Steve Sarkisian and his team took one on the chin there in his first season at Texas (2021) to the tune of 31-7, but the Longhorns have matured and developed since the loss. They responded last season with a narrow 24-21 victory over the Cyclones in Austin, and they enter this week with a chance to win their 10th game for the first time since 2018.
Texas has their sights set on a December 2 appearance in the conference championship game in Arlington, but they must get past Iowa State in order to do so. The Longhorns are 4-0 in true road games this season and look to make it 5-0 following Saturday’s contest. There’s plenty of bulletin board material to keep Texas from sleeping on the Cyclones, but the bottom line is the Longhorns know they need to protect the ball, score in the red zone and let the defense play their game in order to leave Ames with a win.
The HornSports Staff gives their thoughts and score predictions on the upcoming game at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, which kicks off at 7:00 PM and will be televised on FOX.
Jameson McCausland (8-2)
Texas has been walking the tightrope the last two weeks and has somehow made it safely to the other side both times. Iowa State presents another tricky test on the road in an environment that is likely to be more hostile than the Longhorns experienced in Fort Worth.
Matt Campbell has done a good job this season considering the betting scandal that took away several key players before the season. At 6-4 the Cyclones have definitely overachieved. As usual, their defense is very good and the offense has shown more of a pulse the second half of the season.
For Texas, this game is likely to come down to the ability of the offense to move the ball against the 3-high safety look that Iowa State popularized. This feels like a game where Quinn Ewers may have to throw close to 40 times without Jonathan Brooks.
Texas continues to play with fire, but I’ll say they go another week without being burned.
Score Prediction: Texas 28, Iowa State 20
Aaron Carrara (9-1)
The Longhorns know what awaits them in Ames on Saturday in their final road game of the season. They also know there is slim-to-no margin for error against a Matt Campbell coached defense and an offense that has shown potential under a redshirt freshman quarterback. The onus is on the Texas offense to produce, particularly in the red zone. CJ Baxter takes over for an injured Jonathon Brooks and his performance along with Blue, Robinson and Red will be an important factor in the success of the offense. Iowa State will play loose behind quarterback Rocco Becht, who plays behind a solid, experienced offensive line.
Does this game scare me for the Longhorns? It sure does. But I think Sark has this team focused and resilient in ways they have not been in many, many years. Texas has a lot of weapons – so many that the staff cannot use them all effectively each week. That’s not a knock on the staff but rather an indicator of the depth in the program. This week we will get to see some of that talent and Texas will win a scrappy contest to notch Sarkisian’s first 10-win season as a head coach.
Score Prediction: Texas 31, Iowa State 27
Ryan Swantkowski (9-1)
I’ve been thinking about this game for a few weeks now, and the fact that it’s a night game scares me for the Horns. Ames is a very tough, hostile environment, and the Cyclones have a decent squad this year that can really put UT on upset alert. That being said, I think Quinn Ewers plays good enough yet again, and Texas escapes with a nail-biting victory to remain in the playoff mix.
Score Prediction: Texas 24, Iowa State 21
Todd Glawson (7-3)
As the holidays approach, I tend to associate my favorite Thanksgiving/Christmas movies with the current state of Texas football, or college football in general. With Texas traveling to Ames on Saturday, I’m reminded of Cousin Eddie and Clark Griswold standing over a burnt, cat-shaped hole in the living room floor. Cousin Eddie jokingly proclaims “if that thing had nine lives, she just spent ‘em all.” That’s where I’m at mentally with Sark’s squad, and I’m not sure how many lives they have left. Three of the last four contests have seen early 20-point leads turn into nail-biters that require a game-saving play to survive. Call it losing focus, lackadaisical effort, conservative coaching or a lack of execution, but it’s a troubling, unsustainable way to go about your business. Losing Jonathan Brooks for the year only adds to the importance of breaking this frustrating trend. Luckily for the burnt orange, Iowa State OL Joe Hubbard gave them some unsolicited bulletin board material this week as a reminder of what’s at stake. As much as I want to go out on a limb and predict a big lead followed by an absolute clunker of a second half, I believe we see a bit of a breakthrough this weekend with Sark understanding he’ll need to be more aggressive offensively. Take away the run game as you have consistently throughout the year along with putting up 30+ points, and that should solidify a clean road record for the season and be an appropriate farewell to Iowa State.
Score Prediction: Texas 32, Iowa State 21
Devon Messinger (8-2)
Just two more games. That is all that the Longhorns have to deal with before potentially reaching the Big 12 Championship game. However, with the loss of Jonathon Brooks to a season-ending injury, the final obstacles won’t be easy – especially when you consider a road game in Ames at night.
This Iowa State team has a very talented defense, one which is bound to challenge Quinn Ewers in the passing game. As a result, Ewers will have to deliver under the pressure of a chilly Ames night and make the Cyclones defense honest against the pass. Expect Steve Sarkisian to rely a little bit more on the passing game on Saturday, while CJ Baxter will have to step up as well in the running game.
Iowa State left guard Jarrod Hufford may have poked the bear by his comments earlier in the week, but Texas will have to be ready for a no gloves fight regardless. If Byron Murphy and T’Vondre Sweat can continue to plug up the middle against a Cyclones running attack, Texas will be in a decent position to continue their roll.
Score Prediction: Texas 27, Iowa State 20
Marc Henry (7-2)
In this pivotal matchup against Iowa State, the Texas Longhorns find themselves in the driver’s seat for the Big XII title, setting the stage for a high-stakes battle in Ames, IA. The success of the Longhorns hinges significantly on the performance of quarterback Quinn Ewers, who must execute mistake-free football to limit turnovers and maintain control of the game.
A critical aspect of Texas’ strategy will be discipline, as they need to minimize penalties and ensure a clean, efficient game on both sides of the ball. The recent loss of Jonathan Brooks, the team’s lead rusher, creates a notable void, but the expectation is that players like Baxter and Blue will step up to fill this crucial role and sustain the ground attack.
In the passing game, the trio of Worthy, Mitchell, and Sanders emerges as key targets who set the tone for Texas offensively. Their ability to make impactful plays and exploit defensive weaknesses will be instrumental in the Longhorns’ quest for victory.
Furthermore, the Longhorns must navigate the challenge of handling crowd noise in the hostile environment of Ames. Effective communication will be paramount, especially for an offense that relies on precision and timing.
Defensively, the Longhorns face the task of stopping the run and applying relentless pressure on the Cyclones. This dual focus aims to disrupt the opponent’s offensive rhythm and force them into unfavorable situations.
As the Longhorns embark on this critical encounter, the collective execution of these strategic elements will play a decisive role in determining their success in the pursuit of the coveted Big XII title.
Score Prediction: Texas 24, Iowa State 17
Dylan DeRaud (8-2)
Iowa State’s defense has the talent to tighten coverage on receivers, challenge Quinn Ewers to navigate through progressions and read the field effectively. Deploying a 3-safety look at times, the defense will hope to disrupt Ewers’ decision-making, testing his ability to let routes develop and look off safeties. QB Rocco Becht, despite facing the typical freshman learning curve, has shown promise in moving the ball against defenses like Texas, which recently allowed 304 passing yards to TCU. Becht, just one touchdown away from tying Brock Purdy’s freshman touchdown record, is poised to capitalize on Texas’ defensive vulnerabilities.
The key to an Iowa State upset lies in controlling time of possession, winning the turnover battle, and containing explosive plays from Texas receivers Xavier Worthy and Adonai Mitchell. With an efficient red zone offense, the Cyclones have the tools to seize this game as a statement upset.
Score Prediction: Texas 24, Iowa State 23
Mitch Lovell (8-2)
Texas returns to the scene where their team culture under Sarkisian started to finally turn. Bo Davis’ speech after the 2021 loss helped Sark get everyone on the same page in the program. Texas will come out motivated ready to prove they aren’t the same old Texas that slips up when it matters most. Iowa State struggled to score in the last game against a respectable opponent in Kansas. Texas has a lot more talent on offense and defense than Kansas. A big day from Baxter helps Texas run past the Cyclones.
Score Prediction: Texas 38, Iowa State 10