Texas (3-4) vs. Iowa State (2-5) 7:00 pm
Since 2010, Texas is 4-0 against the Iowa State Cyclones and have won by an average margin of victory of 13.2 points per game. However, over the past two seasons, the games have been decided by a total of 4 points (31-30 in 2013 and 48-45 in 2014).
The Longhorns came off their bye week focused and physical in the team’s 23-9 victory over Kansas State. Texas was determined to run the football against the Wildcats and pounded the rock for 274 yards in the win averaging 5.9 yards per carry. The Longhorns are averaging 24.3 points per game and have struggled passing the football this season throwing for 141 yards per game. Texas is relying on the rushing attack that is averaging 206 yards per game and will look to run the football on the road in Ames, Iowa Saturday night. Quarterback Jerrod Heard is a dynamic dual threat quarterback that is completing 58.8% of his passes for 813 yards with 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. He is lethal when he breaks contain and look for Heard to make plays outside the pocket on Saturday. On the season, he has rushed for 489 yards with 3 touchdowns on the ground. Backup quarterback Tyrone Swoopes is the red zone signal caller that keyed the victory last week by adding 2 touchdowns on the ground. Swoopes is a physically bigger quarterback that is very difficult to bring down and gives the Longhorns multiple options within the twenty yard line. Running back Johnathan Gray is a tough inside runner that can catch the ball out of the backfield. Gray has rushed for 388 yards averaging 4.1 yards per carry with 3 touchdowns and needs to be utilized in the short to intermediate passing game to take the pressure off of the offensive line. Head coach Charlie Strong likes to run the football and look for Texas to continue their run first mentality on Saturday against the Cyclones. Wide receiver John Burt leads the team in receiving yards with 252 on 13 catches and has one touchdown on the year. Burt has great speed to stretch the Iowa State secondary and could have a big night should the rushing game have success early on in the game. The offensive line has allowed 20 sacks on the season but has been very good in run blocking. This unit seems to be finding cohesiveness as the season progresses and could be a strong point of the offense by season’s end.
Defensively, Texas is allowing 33.9 points per game, but has put back to back solid performances against Oklahoma (278 total yards) and Kansas State (242 total yards). The Longhorns have been playing with an attitude on the defensive side of the ball and have been much better in back to back victories. On the year, Texas is giving up 179 rushing yards per game and is allowing 257 passing yards per game. Look for Charlie Strong to blitz on Saturday night to put pressure on Cyclones quarterback Sam Richardson. Texas has 18 sacks through the first 7 games and has recorded 11 sacks over the last two games. The unit has been very opportunistic and is +7 in turnover margin. Linebacker Peter Jinkens is having a solid season leading the team with 52 total tackles and 2 sacks and is physical player that is very good in run support. Texas is playing with confidence on defense and will look to keep the momentum going this weekend and force Richardson to beat them over the top. The main reason for the defensive turn around has been the ability to stop the run. During the first three games the unit allowed 7 touchdowns on the ground, however, since that time, the Longhorns have allowed 2 rushing touchdowns over the last four games.
The Cyclones played very well against the Baylor Bears last weekend in the team’s 45-27 loss in Waco, Texas. Iowa State is averaging 26.9 points per game and is rushing for 176 yards on the ground this season. The Cyclones are passing for 243 yards per game and quarterback Sam Richardson is the leader of the offense completing 60.5% of his passes for 1,420 yards with 8 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. Richardson has big game experience and will look to challenge the Texas secondary vertically on Saturday night. He has a big arm and is not afraid of taking chances down the field. However, in order for Iowa State to have success they will need to run the football to keep the pressure off of their offensive line. Through the first 7 games, the Cyclones have allowed 20 sacks and this is not a good matchup going up against the speedy Longhorns’ defense front. Running back Mike Warren will be counted on to control the tempo against Texas as Warren leads the team with 797 rushing yards averaging 6.5 yards per carry with 3 touchdowns. Iowa State will look to work off of play action and Richardson’s main target Allen Lazard could make an impact if the running game has success. On the year, Lazard has a team leading 29 receptions for 406 yards with 3 touchdowns and is able to make plays over the middle of the field. Iowa State will look to start fast playing at home and score first to put the pressure on the Longhorns offense. Texas could not afford to get into a shootout and look for Iowa State to be very aggressive early on in the game.
Iowa State must be disciplined and stay in their running lanes on Saturday when facing Heard and the Longhorns offense. The Cyclones are allowing 33.9 points per game and must have a solid night in shutting the run. Iowa State has struggled against bigger offensive lines and is surrendering 187 yards per game. The Cyclones must be able to force Texas into third down and long situations to put the pressure on Heard to make plays in the passing game. Iowa State has struggled in pass coverage allowing 278 passing yards per game but has played prolific offenses such as: Baylor, TCU, Texas Tech and Toledo. Iowa State must be able to force turnovers at home and have not been able to win the turnover battles consistently each game. On the year, the Cyclones are – 7 in turnover margin and have 16 sacks through the first seven games of the season.
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Joseph Lisi a former ABC Sports college football researcher, is the owner of www.GOFORTHE2.COM. He is a member if the FWAA (Football Writers Association Of America),Maxwell Football Club and is currently the content editor atwww.2FiveSports.com.He contributes regularly to www.Sid-Rosenberg.com and has been a featured guest every Tuesday night from 10:30-11:30pm EST on Yahoo Sports Radio With Ken Thomson(www.sportsxradio.com).
Joe has been featured on the FNTSY Sports Network and The Sid Rosenberg Sports Radio Show 640AM Sports (South Florida). You can follow him on Twitter: @Goforthe2.
Joe has a weekly radio show on www.blogtalkradio.com with former Georgia Bulldogs WR Corey Allen called: