Here are five key matchups in the Texas-Iowa State game to keep your eye on Thursday night:
Jerrod Heard vs. Joel Lanning
Two years ago, Heard was Texas’ starting quarterback and Lanning was Iowa State’s in the Cyclones’ 24-0 win in Ames. After splitting snaps last season, Lanning has transitioned to linebacker; his 26 tackles rank second on the team. Heard moved to receiver in 2016 but has provided some quarterback depth and has been a wildcat option this year. With Shane Buechele healthy, expect Heard to resume his pass-catching role.
EDGE: Iowa State
Collin Johnson vs. Iowa State’s DB’s
Johnson is coming off a 191-yard receiving performance against USC that was the fourth-best receiving game in UT history. He’s accounting for 22.5 percent of Texas’ receptions and 41.1 percent of the season receiving yards. Cyclones cornerback Kamari Cotton-Moya was a preseason All-Big 12 pick but missed Iowa State’s last game with an elbow injury. The Cyclones have five interceptions and are allowing 295 passing yards per game.
Texas’ O-line vs. Iowa State’s pass rushers
Texas will be without All-American left tackle Connor Williams, who suffered a knee injury in the loss to USC. The Longhorns, who tried to patched up the line with a combination of Tristan Nickelson and Denzel Okafor, allowed five sacks after Williams went down in the second quarter. And three of those sacks came on consecutive plays. Texas is looking at redshirt freshman J.P. Urquidez and considering taking the redshirt off true freshman Derek Kerstetter to help with depth. Iowa State ranks 38th nationally averaging 2.67 sacks per game; seven different players have the team’s eight sacks.
EDGE: Iowa State
Iowa State’s RB’s vs. Texas’ front seven
Iowa State running back David Montgomery has four touchdowns so far and had 100-yard games against Iowa and Akron. The Cyclones also have another option in Mike Warren, a former 1,000-yard rusher who’s averaging 3.3 yards per carry. Texas was fifth in the Big 12 against the run last year. Maryland’s Ty Johnson opened this season with a 132-yard day against the Longhorns, but they held USC’s ground game to a 1.9-yard average.
Texas vs. Texas’ recent history in Ames
Texas is 2-9 in true road games since the start of the 2015 season. Don’t expect anything to get easier for the Longhorns even though Iowa State boasts only a 6-9 record at home during that same time span. Texas’ last two trips to Ames have featured a wild 31-30 win on a Thursday night in 2013 that featured a controversial non-fumble on the goal line by Johnathan Gray and 2015’s 24-0 shutout loss.
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