The No. 20 Texas Longhorns know the path to the Big 12 Championship — win every game left on the schedule. After an unexpected delay to that final stretch, the Longhorns begin the march on Senior Day against the No. 15 Iowa State Cyclones.
The Cyclones currently sit atop the conference as the only team without multiple conference losses. A month ago, the Oklahoma State Cowboys managed to take advantage of a tough night from Brock Purdy to come away with a win over the Cyclones, setting up the current conference championship game situation.
Burnt Orange Nation: At times, Iowa State has looked like two different teams. More often than not, they look like one of the top teams in the conference, but then in a few games they seem to struggle with consistency. What do you think causes the swings?
Wide Right & Natty Lite: I think it really has to do with mental lapses. Look at the first game — a lot of factors went into the loss to Louisiana, including some hits due to COVID, and it really created a bit of uncertainty of who was playing and preparing for that game was a mess. Then Louisiana came in and took care of business. Against Oklahoma State mistakes and penalties really drove them down. Then they have escaped some bad play from Brock Purdy, who finally just put it all together against Kansas State. You know with a Matt Campbell team you can get really quality football, but at the same time mistakes can riddle them to a loss. Thankfully this year the mistakes have been outweighed by good football, unlike years past.
BON: Breece Hall has been easily the best running back in the country this year, after having a few good outings a year ago. How has he made the leap to this year’s version of Breece Hall?
WRNL: It really has been the offensive line that has allowed this. Yes, Breece Hall is extremely talented and is an NFL-caliber running back, but this is the best offensive line in the Matt Campbell era and even without two Day 1 starters they are one of the top units in the conference, maybe even in the country.
To add on, Breece just has had a knack this season of finding daylight and taking it. His vision is stellar and he can also run you over. He can just do it all.
BON: The Iowa State pass rush has managed 22 sacks this year, good enough for third in the conference. How have they managed to find success against opponents?
WRNL: High motor guys partnered with timely blitzes. JaQuan Bailey can beat you inside or outside — he has a wide variety of moves and just knows how to beat blocks. Will McDonald is small, but he uses great leverage and speed to beat much bigger lineman. Almost like Leonard Floyd of the Rams. These guys aren’t world beaters in terms of prospects, they just beat you with technique.
BON: What is one matchup you’re watching on Friday?
WRNL: Offensive and defensive lines. We saw in 2018 when these two teams paired up for a Big 12 championship appearance Texas absolutely dominated Iowa State up front. Fast forward to now and Iowa State is much better prepared, but the Texas defensive line is still a stout bunch and probably will give the Iowa State offensive line its biggest test yet. Especially with the play of that Texas front in recent games. It will be won or lost up front for either squad.
BON: What’s your prediction for the game?
WRNL: I’m nervous as hell for this one. The Iowa Stare fan base wants this so bad. The two teams appear to be evenly matched and this game can go either way. With three weeks off for Texas, there could be rust involved, but also time to heal and be fresh. Iowa State appears to be peaking in November for once. I think this will be close, but I’ll go 27-24 Iowa State. I just won’t be shocked if it’s the other way — this is by no means a confident pick.