116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
AMES — Breaking down Saturday night’s Big 12 football game between Iowa State (5-3, 3-2) and Texas (4-4, 2-3) at Jack Trice Stadium.
Kickoff is 6:30 p.m. (FS1).
Iowa State offense
Iowa State’s offense has been good in recent weeks, but West Virginia was able to slow down tight end Charlie Kolar and receiver Xavier Hutchinson in 38-31 Moutaineers win last week.
Kolar had just one catch against West Virginia and Hutchinson six catches for 51 yards.
While running back Breece Hall is great, the Cyclones need to have a balanced offense to keep running lanes open.
“It's certainly a challenge and you have to find ways that you can free them up,” Iowa State offensive coordinator Tom Manning said. “I think that's the nature of the beast and in football in general. The number one thing is people try to take away your really good football players. So certainly trying to find unique ways to free them up.”
Similar to Iowa State, Texas’ offense starts with running back Bijan Robinson.
Also similar to Iowa State’s Hutchinson, Texas’ Xavier Worthy is among the best in the Big 12. Worthy has 33 catches for 657 yards and seven touchdowns, which leads the Big 12 while Hutchinson is second and has 40 catches for 631 yards and four touchdowns.
“He has elite size and he’s an elite playmaker,” ISU Coach Matt Campbell said of the true freshman Worthy. “Some of the plays that he’s made even when he’s covered or when he has the ball in his hand and people are aiming to tackle him — he has elite traits.”
Texas could be without its third leading receiver, Joshua Moore. According to 247Sports’ Chip Brown, who covers Texas, Moore and Texas Coach Steve Sarkesian had a verbal altercation during Wednesday’s practice and Moore’s status is in question for the Iowa State game.
Iowa State defense
The Cyclones were without linebacker Mike Rose against West Virginia because of an injury, but Campbell and defensive coordinator Jon Heacock were optimistic about Rose’s status for the Texas game.
“I really think Mike was in a lot better spot on Sunday and Monday than where he was last week,” Campbell said. “He got really close to playing in the game on Saturday. He worked hard to get himself back.
“I’d love to sit here and say there's no difference without Mike Rose. I think we’d be naive to say that. I think when you lose a guy like Mike out there, you're also losing communication, you're also losing leadership. It forces other guys to pick up the luggage a little bit.”
Texas’ defense isn’t anything to write home about. It’s toward the bottom of the Big 12 in nearly every category, but the Longhorns still have playmakers who can change the game.
Texas has given up nearly 30 points per game, which is seventh in the Big 12, and it has given up 434 yards per game and an astonishing 6.2 yards per play, which are both eighth in the league.
This wouldn’t be an analysis article without talking about what’s happening with Texas and its special teams coach, Jeff Banks.
Banks and his girlfriend, Dani Thomas, who is a former pole dancer nicknamed Pole Assassin, hosted a haunted house for Halloween and apparently Thomas’ pet monkey, which performed with her on stage, bit a trick-or-treater. Thomas posted several tweets and videos that have since been deleted, explaining the child went to a part of the house they weren’t supposed to and got into the monkey’s area, and that’s when the child was bit.
“I don’t even play when it comes to my animals and I know all the legal rules on them,” Thomas said in the video while showing a do-not-enter/no-touching sign written in pastel permanent marker on the gate with accompanying balloons. “How could she viciously bite someone if they don’t stick their hand in there where it don’t belong? This is her home and her home only. … Don’t touch. No one’s allowed back here without my permission.”
Banks is the highest paid special teams coach in the country, making more than $1 million annually, and followed Sarkesian from Alabama to Texas.
Texas-Iowa State prediction
Texas has plenty of distractions going on and is riding a three-game losing streak. Safe to say Sarkesian’s first season isn’t going as planned.
Iowa State 35, Texas 31