No. 19 Texas figures to have hands full at Iowa State

Field Level Media

November 13, 2019 at 7:32 am.

Expect a little bit of anything and everything on Saturday afternoon when enigmatic No. 19 Texas squares off against talented and hungry Iowa State in a key Big 12 Conference contest in Ames, Iowa.

A win for the Longhorns (6-3, 4-2 Big 12) would keep them in line for a spot in the Big 12 championship game. Texas trails undefeated Baylor and once-beaten Oklahoma in the league standings, with the Bears and Sooners set to play Saturday.

If the Cyclones (5-4, 3-3) can beat Texas, they will become bowl eligible for the third season in a row for just the second time in school history and help exorcise some of the demons they have endured during a crazy first three-fourths of the regular season.

Texas’s defense has been its Achilles’ heel, but was better — like night and day better — when it allowed Kansas State just 304 yards in the Longhorns’ 27-24 win last Saturday.

Several Texas players were quick to point out that the effort was what the Longhorns are capable of when they are healthy and have nearly all their most important defensive players on the field, including safeties Caden Sterns and B.J. Foster.

“This is what happens when we’re fully healthy,” Texas nose tackle Keondre Coburn said. “This is a great team, unbelievable team. We never pointed at each other; we never gave up. We just kept doing the game plan that we were given, and we just executed better.”

The Longhorns got more good news on the defensive injury front Monday, when coach Tom Herman announced that safety Chris Brown, who broke his right arm against Oklahoma on Oct. 9, has been cleared to play this week.

“(Brown’s broken arm) healed faster than he anticipated and the doctor cleared him on Friday to play with a cast on,” Herman said Monday. “To know that we’re going to have him here this week is a big boost to our defense and to special teams.”

Herman also said that linebacker Jeffrey McCulloch, who separated his shoulder against OU, is progressing better and should be able to play against the Cyclones.

Iowa State heads home after a gut-wrenching 42-41 loss Saturday at Oklahoma. The Cyclones battled back from a 42-28 deficit in the fourth quarter but failed on a two-point conversion pass late in the game that could have flipped the script.

The attempt failed when Brock Purdy’s well-placed pass into La’Michael Pettway’s belly was intercepted. by Oklahoma’s Parnell Motley.

“It looked like we had a chance to catch the ball but it got intercepted at the end of it,” Iowa State coach Matt Campbell said. “Credit to them. They made the great play at the end of the game to win the game.”

Iowa State has lost four games by a combined 11 points this year — all to teams in the CFP rankings: Iowa (18-17), Baylor (23-21), Oklahoma State (34-27) and Oklahoma.

Given Texas’s struggles on defense, this game sets up well for the Cyclones. Iowa State ranks 16th nationally in total offense (479.2 yards per game), which is on pace to break the school record of 439.6 set in 1976.

The Cyclones have recorded more than 400 yards of offense in eight of nine games. Their lowest offensive game of the season was a 372-yard effort vs. West Virginia.

“We try not to look ahead,” Campbell said about Texas after the OU loss. “We’ve always had the ability to look at ourselves, figure out what we did well, what we didn’t do well and get back to work. That’s what it’s going to take for this team to continue to move forward.”

Texas leads the series at 14-2. Iowa State’s lone win over the Longhorns in Ames was in 2015 (24-0).