Coming off of three straight losses, the Texas Longhorns will attempt to find some firm footing once again on the artificial turf of Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on Saturday against the Iowa State Cyclones after a month on the road.
Here’s how the Burnt Orange Nation staff believes the game will go down.
Wescott Eberts — editor
There's just something about the Cyclones... Their mediocre quarterbacks scared former Texas head coach Mack Brown to death. A mediocre Iowa State team came in to Austin in 2010 and dealt Texas an excruciating loss. Last season's shutout in Ames was the last dying gasp of the Paul Rhoads era.
This season, new head coach Matt Campbell has the Clones showing rapid improvement after close losses to the Bears and Pokes, and the 'Horns can only boast of good performance against the perennial Big 12 cellar dweller in the last seven years.
So this game will likely be a close affair in front of a tepid crowd with the defense needing to show improvement and the offense needing to take advantage of any opportunities provided by the defense, unlike last week in the Cotton Bowl.
Longhorns running back D'Onta Foreman gets loose for another big performance, wide receiver Devin Duvernay continues to break out, and the defensive backs finally have a good performance thanks to spotty Iowa State quarterback play.
Texas 48, Iowa State 38
Cody Daniel — co-editor
Home is where the 'Horns get back onto the right side of the scoreboard. Iowa State is better than its 1-5 record and would be 3-3 with wins over Baylor and Oklahoma State if the Cyclones could hold a fourth quarter lead, but their fortunes won't change on Saturday.
Not only will Texas be playing with a sense of desperation and will Charlie Strong be coaching for his job, but Iowa State has lost its last 13 efforts on the road. That number will increase once again against Texas.
Texas 42, Iowa State 27
Robert Larkin — staff writer
I honestly am unsure if the Texas defense will improve this week, and I don’t know if Charlie Strong will end up keeping his job. What I do know is this Texas offense is putting up points, and they will be facing a weak Iowa State defense in its first home game in nearly a month.
Not only that, but also this Texas team is hungry and will be looking to return to .500.
I expect Texas to come out fast in all facets, playing with high energy and flying to the ball in an effort to save Charlie Strong’s job.
After a disaster in Ames last season, I think Texas wants this one badly. I expect a close game for most of the first half, but Texas will eventually pull away.
Look for big numbers from Buechele, D’Onta Foreman, and the Texas offense, as the ‘Horns cruise to its first win in three games.
Texas 48, Iowa State 31
Abram Orlanksy — staff member
This is not the kind of game where winning will necessarily get Texas back on track, but losing would certainly spell doom for Charlie Strong's tenure in Austin. I'm among those holding out hope that Charlie keeps the job for 2017 so we can see what he does with a full slate of his own recruits after hauling in several top-10 classes in a row.
A run-of-the-mill win simply keeps status quo for another week, as Iowa State is capital-B Bad. A blowout win may be significant enough to give the team a sense of momentum going forward. But the Cyclones hung with Baylor two weeks ago and really could/should have won that one, they lost to Oklahoma State by just a touchdown, and obviously another Bad ISU team whipped the Longhorns last year. They may be a team about to get over the hump. So a catastrophic loss is very much within the realm of possibility.
My prediction is the middle road — a status-quo preserving win somewhere around the point spread of 13.5. Iowa State averages 250 yards per game through the air and I can't bring myself to call this week as the moment Texas figures out its secondary woes — I can't believe that until I see it. So ISU will score some points, though I do at least hope the Horns can keep them under 40.
I don't see the Longhorn offense having much trouble moving the ball, although continuing the trend of disappearing for long stretches could make this one closer than it needs to be. Ultimately, I think Texas takes an early lead and mostly coasts rather than dropping the hammer and putting ISU away, leaving us feeling better than we have after the last 3 games but still uneasy.
Texas 45, ISU 33
Jeff Asher — staff member
I will be covered in drool and get a bad night sleep Saturday night. Most of it will be due to the infant. Also, Texas beats Iowa State 41-35 in a game that leaves nobody satisfied.
Texas 41, Iowa State 35
Wes Crochet — staff writer
This game will probably be closer than what the spread indicates, which I believe is sitting at or around -13.5 points in favor of the Longhorns, and has the makings of another relatively high-scoring match-up.
Iowa State’s defense is probably the conference’s worst against the run while the Longhorns’ defense has been the worst against the pass.
Iowa State has weapons in the passing game, and Texas one of the best running backs in the conference. In other words, the Longhorns are set up to run all over the Cyclones and the Cyclones could pass all over the Longhorns.
The difference in this one could come down to the Longhorns’ pass rush against a weaker Iowa State offensive line.
Iowa State ranks ten out of ten for sacks allowed per game, giving up just over three per contest while the Texas defensive line is tied for second with Oklahoma State in sacks per game, averaging three.
This could be a good day for Malcolm Roach and Breckyn Hagar to get going again after the tandem went sack-less last week in Dallas.
This is also the first home game in over a month, and Texas is 2-0 at home and 0-3 away from Austin this season. Both teams will put up points, and it could be a relatively close game, but I’m taking the Longhorns.
Texas 35, Iowa State 31