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Breaking down Saturday's Texas (2-3, 0-2) vs. Iowa State (1-5, 0-3) game. Kickoff is 6 p.m. on Longhorn Network and Cyclones.TV.
Iowa State has two young and capable running backs in Mike Warren and David Montgomery, but its running game featured Joel Lanning — particularly in the second half — last week. While gaining accuracy in the pass game, Lanning also has started to hone the zone read looks he’s been given and had 18 carries for 100 yards before six sacks dropped that down to 67.
Lanning’s a constant threat to run, which could pose a challenge for Texas. Last week, the Longhorns defended 55 runs by Oklahoma and gave up 282 yards. Iowa State’s offensive line will have to hold up against a big defensive front, but the Longhorns have shown holes could be there.
Warren had just nine carries for 51 yards last week, but is averaging 94.5 rushing yards in the last four games after a slow start in the first two weeks.
Advantage: Iowa State
Recently improved quarterback play will help Iowa State when it comes to the Texas secondary. The Longhorns have struggled mightily defending the pass and are ranked last in the Big 12 and 99th nationally in pass defense.
Texas is giving up 297.8 yards per game and allowing quarterbacks to complete 66 percent of their passes. Defensive backs have forced just two interceptions, both coming last week against Oklahoma.
In his last three games, ISU quarterback Joel Lanning is 41-of-63 passing for 587 yards and six touchdowns with zero interceptions. The Cyclones will continue rotating at quarterback with sophomore Jacob Park slated to get snaps.
Wide receiver Allen Lazard is getting healthier while youngsters Carson Epps and Deshaunte Jones continue to produce within the offense.
Advantage: Iowa State
Texas arguably possesses the best running back in the Big 12 with D’Onta Foreman. He averages 148.8 rushing yards per game and has seven touchdowns. Chris Warren III is a nice second option and averages 91.5 yards per game while quarterback Tyrone Swoops, nicknamed the 18-Wheeler, is a dual-threat in the red zone.
Iowa State improved its rush defense last week and allowed just 108 yards on the ground after defensive lineman Jhaustin Thomas moved inside.
Linebacker Willie Harvey is coming off games of 12 and eight tackles, respectively, but the Cyclones are last in the league in rush defense (235.5 ypg) while allowing 15 rushing scores and struggling to find depth.
The Longhorns present rushing options that would give many defensive fronts headaches.
Quarterback Shane Buechele was the first true freshman to start at quarterback for Texas since 1944 and has proven himself. He is 97-of-155 passing for 1,204 yards and 11 touchdowns, including 245 yards through the air last week against Oklahoma.
Seven Texas receivers have caught touchdowns this season and have been able to execute big plays. Buechele found John Burt for a 72-yard connection in Week 1 and threw touchdown passes of 45 yards to Dorian Leonard and 63 yards to Devin Duvernay.
Iowa State owns the second-best pass defense in the Big 12, giving up 218 yards per game, but is sixth in the league in pass defense efficiency. Outside of four interceptions forced against San Jose State, the Cyclones haven’t had any other picks this season. Safety Kamari Cotton-Moya didn’t play last week, and Evrett Edwards and Braxton Lewis were used as substitutes.
Texas is the best punting team in the Big 12 with Michael Dickson averaging 48.1 yards per attempt. Kicker Trent Domingue is 7-of-10 on field goals this season, but has missed four PATs — three were blocked in a loss at Oklahoma State.
Iowa State is the only Big 12 team to not miss a field goal this season with kicker Cole Netten going 5-for-5. He has made 13 in a row, owning the third-best streak in the country. The Cyclones’ special teams X-factor has been Trever Ryen, who is fifth nationally in punt return average at 16.3 yards per return.
Advantage: Iowa State
1. Texas leads the all-time series against Iowa State 11-2 and is 6-1 in Austin, but the two ISU wins have both come since 2010. Iowa State beat Texas last season, 24-0, giving the program just its third shutout against a Big 12 opponent (Baylor, 41-0 in 2001; Kansas, 34-0 in 2013).
2. Last season’s 24-0 win against Texas also was Iowa State quarterback Joel Lanning’s first career start. He was 19-for-37 passing for 188 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 64 yards.
3. Iowa State is 1-2 against Texas in the last three matchups, with the two losses coming by a combined four points. Texas won, 31-30, in 2013 after a controversial call near the goal line that led to the go-ahead score and 48-45 in 2014 when kicker Nick Rose connected a 21-yard field goal with 19 seconds to go.
1. Iowa State has held leads of 14 points and 17 points against Baylor and Oklahoma State, respectively, only to fall short. The Cyclones have no doubt made exponential growth since Week 3, but moral victories don’t work for Coach Matt Campbell. He wants to see results on the scoreboard.
Read more: Campbell 'ticked' by close losses
2. Part of the upward swing Iowa State’s offense has taken has had to do with its red zone offense. The Cyclones are 18-for-18 inside the red zone with 14 touchdowns. Texas has turned the ball over twice while going 21-for-25 in the red zone. Campbell talks about winning situational football and finishing drives, so Iowa State must continue that against a high-scoring team like Texas.
3. Iowa State and Texas are near the bottom of the Big 12 in third-down conversions at 41.6 and 39.2 percent, respectively, but are at odds on fourth down. Texas has a league-leading 85.7 percent conversion rate on fourth down while Iowa State has allowed opponents to convert 75 percent of the time.
ISU WILL WIN IF ... It can maintain its offensive production throughout the game and not suffer another fourth-quarter drought while forcing some Texas turnovers.
TEXAS WILL WIN IF ... It can establish a pass rush and force Iowa State’s quarterbacks into tough downs and distances.
PREDICTION: Texas 42, Iowa State 35