Texas Longhorns Breckyn Hager tries to bring down Iowa State Cyclones David Montgomery during the first half of a NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016 at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium/Jamail Field, Austin, Texas. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Football

Texas vs. Iowa State: Five key matchups to watch

Posted November 16th, 2018

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Here are five key matchups in the Texas-Iowa State game to keep your eye on Saturday night:

1. Iowa State’s Brock Purdy vs. Texas’ linebackers

Texas defensive end Charles Omenihu offered high praise for the Cyclones this week. “Iowa State’s offense is complicated, dude,” he said. It’s difficult because coach Matt Campbell uses a lot of run-pass combinations, which require defenders to make sure they are reading things correctly. Purdy is 5-0 as the starter largely because defensive coordinators didn’t know anything about him. UT’s Gary Johnson and Anthony Wheeler are two seniors with a wealth of experience. They need to show it by disguising their coverages and blitzes.

EDGE: Iowa State

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2. Iowa State’s David Montgomery vs. his own patience

Montgomery is the Big 12’s second-leading rusher based on yards per game (95.6). But he’ll sit out the first half for fighting last week against Baylor. Video clearly showed a Baylor player reach around an official and slap Montgomery, but rules are rules. Montgomery is cleared to play in the second half, and he’s got to resist the urge to do too much. That could play right into the Longhorns’ hands. Iowa State has other capable running backs. Texas must shut them down, too.

EDGE: Texas

3. Texas running backs vs. Iowa State’s run defense

Keaontay Ingram and Tre Watson both had strong performances last week against Texas Tech. Ingram had 83 yards while Watson tallied 58. Throw in quarterback Sam Ehlinger’s 14 yards on scrambles, and Texas finished with 157. That would be a stellar day against Iowa State’s defense. The Cyclones have the No. 1 run defense unit in the Big 12, having allowed 109.4 per game this season. Watch out for Iowa State’s JaQuan Bailey, a junior with 16 career sacks. That ranks fourth on Iowa State’s career list.

EDGE: Even

4. Texas’ Cameron Dicker vs. Iowa State’s Connor Assalley

Texas coach Tom Herman has shown real confidence in Dicker the last two games. The freshman from Lake Travis has rewarded him by going 4 for 4 on field goals, including a season-long 52-yarder against the Red Raiders. That kick, plus the game-winner against Oklahoma, has made for a strong first season in burnt orange. Assalley has made a field goal each of the last three games, the longest being a 47-yard effort against Kansas. But he’s just 1 for 3 from 40-49 yards this season and has not attempted one over 50.

EDGE: Texas

5. The 2018 Longhorns vs. the 2010-17 Longhorns

This has been a dreadful decade for Texas. Entering this season, the program was just five games over .500 for the decade. This year, Texas went on a six-game winning streak and appeared to have righted the ship, getting as high as No. 6 in The Associated Press Top 25. Then came back-to-back losses before a dramatic win over Texas Tech. This team is different. This feeling is different. There’s not a single player in that locker room that’s won big at this level. Can Herman’s group rise to the occasion?

EDGE: Texas 2018

Contact Brian Davis at 512-445-3957. Email bdavis@statesman.com.

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