After more than a month away from home and three consecutive losses, the Texas Longhorns finally return to Darrell K Royal–Texas Memorial Stadium on Saturday to host the Iowa State Cyclones.
The game airs at 6 p.m. CT on Longhorn Network.
For various reasons, Texas is faced with a must-win situation as Charlie Strong’s hot seat reaches boiling temperatures with the only team to shut the ‘Horns out during Strong’s tenure coming to Austin. But despite the Cyclones’ 1-5 start to the season, Texas could have its hands much fuller than some may expect — Iowa State is better than its record.
In the earliest portion of the season, yes, Iowa State looked to be a team destined for double-digit losses. The Cyclones started the season 0-3, but following a 44-10 victory over San Jose State, Iowa State has begun to show signs of life under first-year head coach Matt Campbell.
Courtesy of an increasingly potent offense that’s averaged 39 points per game over the last three outings, Iowa State nearly escaped with upsets over No. 13 Baylor and Oklahoma State in its previous two games, losing 45-42 and 38-31, respectively.
The Cyclones’ downfall and the difference between a 3-3 record and their current 1-5 effort has been the fourth quarter, as Iowa State was outscored 34-0 down the stretch the last two weeks.
But while the offense is improving, the defense has been equally as unimpressive — opponents have out gained the Cyclones in every matchup this season excluding the lone victory over the Spartans.
While Iowa State has been trending upward as of late, despite the fourth quarter collapses, the Cyclones may be in for another loss on Saturday if history holds true — dating back to their road opener in 2014, the Cyclones have lost 13 straight road games.
But history hasn’t been on Texas’ side, either. Under Strong, the ‘Horns are 0-14 when trailing at the half and though the Cyclones have lost their last two games, Iowa State held the lead at halftime over Baylor and Oklahoma State.
If Texas is to change its fortunes in this department or simply send Iowa State home with a loss, regardless of the intermission score, red-zone defense will be critical.
To this point, Texas is tied for 87th in red-zone defense after allowing 12 touchdowns and four field goals in 18 trips to the red zone for opponents. Iowa State’s offense, on the other hand, leads the nation in red-zone efficiency, scoring on each of its 18 trips, with 14 touchdowns and four field goals.
Between Iowa State’s recent offensive surge and red-zone success, points will likely come in bunches on Saturday. Can Texas finally take some much-needed strides defensively and slow down Iowa State’s Joel Lanning, Mike Warren, and Allen Lazard?
At a point where the ‘Horns are walking a tight rope between a complete collapse and turning their season around, Strong has to find a way to stop the bleeding and get Texas to 3-3.
· Texas holds the all-time series advantage 11-2.
· The Longhorns are 1-1 against the Cyclones under Charlie Strong.
· Texas’ longest win streak against Iowa State was seven games between 1979-2007.
· Iowa State has never defeated Texas in consecutive meetings.
· The series’ only shutout came last season with Iowa State’s 24-0 victory in Ames.
· Five meetings have been determined by one possession (eight points or less).
· Texas is 6-1 vs. Iowa State in Austin.
What to know about the Cyclones
· Iowa State hasn’t won on the road since its 20-17 victory over Iowa on September 13, 2014.
· The Cyclones’ only victory this season was a 44-10 win over San Jose State.
· Iowa State runs a dual-quarterback system with Joel Lanning and Jacob Park, the latter a former Georgia signee.
Cyclones to keep an eye on
· Joel Lanning — Iowa State’s dual-threat quarterback has tossed for more than 1,000 yards on the season and nearly added 200 more on the ground. In total, Lanning has combined for 12 touchdowns with his arm and legs.
· Allen Lazard — Texas’ secondary has been torched by opponents’ go-to receiver this season and the Cyclones will be looking to continue this trend on Saturday. Lazard leads Iowa State in receptions, yards and touchdowns with 27, 383 and four, respectively.
· Mike Warren — Against a Texas defense that has struggled bringing guys to the ground, expect a heavy dose of Mike Warren in hopes of Iowa State having short-yardage situations to work with on second and third down and opening up the play action game. On 100 carries this season, Warren has rushed for 436 yards and three scores.
· Reggan Northup — The sophomore linebacker leads Iowa State in tackles with 39 on the season. The Cyclones will need him at his best Saturday with Texas’ D’Onta Foreman wreaking havoc on the ground and coming off of a career-high 159-yard performance against Oklahoma.
· Texas has a 12-1 record in games televised by Longhorns Network since LHN began in 2011 — Saturday’s meeting will be on LHN.
· Junior running back D’Onta Foreman currently ranks 33rd on Texas’ all-time rushing yards list with 1,349 yards.
· If Foreman continues at his 149-yard-per-game pace for the remaining seven games this season, he would conclude his junior campaign with 1,636 yards, which would bring his career-total to 2,390 — a total that would be good for 15th on Texas’ all-time rushing list.
· In Texas’ 50-47 win over Notre Dame, the 18-Wheeler package with Tyrone Swoopes was utilized 13 times for 53 yards and three touchdowns. In the four games since, Swoopes’ specialty package has seen only 18 carries for 66 yards and two touchdowns, both of which came against Oklahoma State.
· Swoopes is just 89 yards shy of 1,000 career rushing yards — a feat that would place him alongside Vince Young and Colt McCoy as the only Longhorns to ever pass for 3,000 career yards and rush for 1,000 career yards.
· Texas has never lost four consecutive games under Charlie Strong. The ‘Horns are currently on a three-game losing streak.