Don’t sleep on Iowa State. Texas, after all, should know better.
The last two meetings between the Longhorns and Cyclones have been decided by a combined four points. And the Longhorns escaped by the skin of their teeth both times.
“The years I’ve been here, Iowa State has always been hard-to-the-wall,” Texas defensive tackle Desmond Jackson said.
Last year, Texas orchestrated a 10-play, 75-yard drive that ended with Malcolm Brown’s 4-yard touchdown run, giving the Longhorns a 45-38 lead with 1:19 left. But the Cyclones needed only 51 seconds to tie the game, driving 75 yards and scoring on Sam Richardson’s 11-yard pass to E.J. Bibbs.
The Longhorns, however, had the last laugh. Tyrone Swoopes hit back-to-back big throws, setting up Nick Rose for the game-winning field goal.
Two years ago, in Ames, Case McCoy’s 1-yard touchdown plunge with seconds to spare culminated the game-winning 75-yard drive. But before McCoy’s score, Johnathan Gray fumbled twice right at the goal line. Iowa State recovered the first fumble, but officials ruled Gray was down before the ball escaped.
The bottom line: Iowa State, which is 1-11 all-time vs. Texas, is capable of competing with the Longhorns.
“They’ve always been a bunch that always wants to go out and prove themselves,” Jackson said. “They’ve always been a team that you’re not just going to go in and say, ‘We’re going to beat Iowa State.'”
Through seven games, Iowa State is 2-5. That includes a 1-3 mark in the Big 12, placing the Cyclones ahead of only West Virginia, Kansas State and Kansas in the conference race.
“We know Iowa State is not a very good team,” Texas defensive tackle Paul Boyette Jr. said Monday. “I’m not taking anything away from them. But they can come out one week and put up numerous points, and the next week they can be flat.”
Leading up this week’s matchup, Iowa State is in a state of flux.
The Cyclones’ offense, ranked seventh in the conference, now has a new offensive coordinator and starting quarterback. Toddy Sturdy, the passing game coordinator, is replacing Mark Mangino at the offensive coordinator position. And Joel Lanning is taking over at quarterback; Richardson has thrown eight interceptions in seven games.
There is uncertainty around Iowa State. Perhaps the only certainty is that Texas won’t be making the road trip to Iowa expecting an easy victory. If the last two meetings are any indication, Saturday won’t be a lopsided affair. The Longhorns are favored by 6 1/2 points.
“We know everyone in this league can play,” center Taylor Doyle said. “We’re fully expecting Iowa State to come out there ready to go and play hard and play well. We have a challenge ahead of us.”