The no. 19 Texas Longhorns will try to keep their Big 12 title hopes intact this weekend when they pay a visit to the Iowa State Cyclones. The game will kick off at 3:30 EST on Saturday, November 16 at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, Iowa. The game will be broadcast on FS1.
Current betting odds list Iowa State as 7-point favorites at home with an over/under of 66.5 points. Click here to check out all of this week’s college football betting odds.
Texas has endured a little bit of a mid-season slump, but they came up with a big win last week against Kansas State. The Longhorns didn’t cover the spread, but they did knock off a ranked K-State team on a late field goal. The win was enough to make Texas bowl eligible at 6-3. It also gives the Longhorns a chance to reach the Big 12 title game if they can win out and get a little bit of help. Texas will need to win their three remaining games, including next week against Baylor, while also hoping Baylor loses at least one other game. At the moment, it’s unlikely but not impossible for Texas to return to the Big 12 Championship Game for the second straight year. They just have to keep winning.
Iowa State, on the other hand, likely waved goodbye to their Big 12 title hopes last week, falling to Oklahoma 42-41. The Cyclones, to their credit, made a great comeback in the fourth quarter, scoring 20 unanswered points. After scoring a late touchdown, Matt Campbell went for two points and the win rather than tying the game. The Cyclones couldn’t convert, coming up 1-point short of knocking off the Sooners and losing their second straight game. At 3-3 in Big 12 play, ISU is a long shot to finish among the top-2 in the conference. The Cyclones also need to win at least one of their last three games to qualify for a bowl game. Fortunately, two of their final three games are at home, including this week’s date with the Longhorns.
Campbell has been unsuccessful in all three of his attempts to beat the Longhorns. Texas has won three in a row against the Cyclones and seven of their last eight head-to-head meetings with Iowa State. That includes a 24-10 Texas win last season.
I’ve been high on Iowa State for most of the past couple of years, but I’m starting to cool a little on the Cyclones. They deserve credit for their comeback attempt last week, but they also found themselves trailing by three touchdowns heading into the fourth quarter. I won’t rule out a nice bounce-back effort at home, but it’s tough to buy them as 7-point favorites over Texas. I feel safer taking the Longhorns and the points in this game.
I had some worries about the Texas defense ahead of last week’s game against Kansas State, but the Longhorns definitely stepped up on that side of the ball after giving up 14 quick points. They ended up shutting down the K-State rushing attack and forcing the Wildcats to beat them through the air, which is always a good sign. I still have some concerns about the Texas secondary, but the defense as a whole seems to have turned a corner.
Moreover, the Iowa State offense has been efficient but not necessary explosive for most of the season. Brock Purdy has turned in another solid season, but he doesn’t have the same caliber of weapons around him that he had last year. The key for the Cyclones is freshman running back Breece Hall, who’s been outstanding during the second half of the season. But if the Texas defense can slow him down, they should be able to limit Iowa State to a reasonable point total.
On the other side of the ball, I continue to be underwhelmed by the ISU defense. It’s a little unfair to judge them too harshly over last week’s game against Oklahoma, especially since they shut out the Sooners in the fourth quarter. On the other hand, Iowa State also conceded 35 points in the first half and was once again vulnerable to big plays. They had a similar problem two weeks ago when they lost to Oklahoma State at home.
This week, the Cyclones will have to contend with Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger. He’s fallen off the radar a little in recent weeks, but he’s still having an outstanding season. The Longhorns are slowly but surely putting together a competent rushing attack to support Ehlinger. More importantly, Texas has a few big-play receivers to challenge the ISU defense down the field, most notably Devin Duvernay, who has 78 catches for over 900 yards on the season. We all know that Ehlinger won’t be shy about taking shots down the field if he gets a chance.
Ultimately, I don’t see Texas going away and allowing Iowa State to win by a comfortable margin. The Longhorns are good enough to beat a slumping Iowa State team on the road and I think the Cyclones will count themselves lucky to win this game by any margin. That has me leaning toward Texas as the underdog.