A top-20 matchup looms in Austin, Texas, Saturday as No. 16 Iowa State (6-3, 5-2 Big 12) travels to No. 15 Texas (7-3, 5-2 Big 12).
The game will be televised on the Longhorn Network at 7 p.m.
— Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger hasn’t thrown an interception since the first week of the season. He’s passed for 2,483 yards and 20 touchdowns. He’s rushed for another 343 yards and nine touchdowns.
He’s the best quarterback Texas has had since Colt McCoy.
“Quarterback is such an experience position and I think what you see from (Ehlinger) is that he’s owning the offense,” Iowa State Coach Matt Campbell said. “He knows where to go with the football. It’s really hard to disguise things and trick him because he’s owning the offense. When you see really good quarterbacks playing at a really good rate, you see guys that own the offense. That’s what he’s doing right now. He also has the athleticism, that when things break down, he can make things happen.”
Iowa State struggled last week to contain Baylor’s Charlie Brewer, who has a similar skill set to Ehlinger. Brewer passed for 288 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another 72 yards.
Campbell believes his defense will be more prepared for a mobile quarterback this time around.
“Seeing a mobile quarterback last week allowed us to look at our defense and ask ‘What did we do well, what didn’t we do well and what do we have to continue to do to improve?’” Campbell said. “Once the quarterback has athleticism, it certainly changes the dynamic of defensive football. It’s something that must be a focal point for us.”
— Texas’ two main receivers are 6-foot-4 Lil’Jordan Humphry and 6-6 Collin Johnson. They’ve combined for 1,622 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Iowa State’s defensive backs, while effective, are short. Brian Peavy is listed at 5-9 and D’Andre Payne is listed at 5-10.
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Defensive coordinator Jon Heacock said they’ll need to mix up coverages and techniques to try to slow down the duo. The one advantage Iowa State has on other teams is it faces that size every day in practice in Matt Eaton and Hakeem Butler.
— Iowa State will be without starting running back David Montgomery for the first half of the game because of an on-field fight he was involved in against Baylor last week.
This isn’t the first time Montgomery has missed time this season. He had a shoulder injury against Oklahoma State that forced him to sit out.
The coaching staff said they will handle the situation similar to the Oklahoma State game. Whichever running back comes out with the hot hand is the one they’re going to stick with — at least until Montgomery gets back. Against the Cowboys, it was Kene Nwangwu who took the bulk of the carries. He rushed 10 times for 52 yards. Quarterback Brock Purdy also will be able to alleviate some of that pain.
Montgomery runs angry most of the time anyway, so what does receiver Butler think Montgomery will run like when he’s eligible in the second half?
Well, Butler laughed and said we’ll have to see.
— Iowa State started the season as one of the worst red-zone scoring teams in the Big 12. The Cyclones scored on most of the opportunities, but they were getting field goals instead of touchdowns.
Since Purdy was introduced as the starting quarterback, Iowa State’s red-zone touchdown numbers have improved. Iowa State still is scoring in the red zone at a 90-percent clip and the Cyclones score a touchdown 50 percent of the time.
“I think that’s an area that since Brock’s taken over we’ve improved,” Campbell said. “For us, you look at these games in general, they’re all close. The ability to maximize those possessions down there, really big. And I think on the flip side of it, really big defensively. That field shrinks and having the ability to rise up, just like we were able to last week, and capitalize on some critical moments, I think those are all huge when you talk about playing good football teams and certainly playing this time of year.”
Iowa State 31, Texas 28
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“You don’t get your gut to talk to you — you just listen when it says something.”
— April Ludgate-Dwyer (Parks and Rec — Season 6, Episode 3). My gut is telling me Iowa State wins.
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