TEXAS LONGHORNS (1-2)
at IOWA STATE CYCLONES (2-1)
Jack Trice Stadium – Ames, IA
Kickoff: Thursday, 8:00 p.m. ET
Line: Texas -6.5, Total: 63.5
Texas will be hoping to get back to .500 when the team faces Iowa State at Jack Trice Stadium on Thursday.
The Longhorns have not had the start to their season that they were hoping for, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that this is a bad football team. Texas was shocked by Maryland in its home opener, but the Longhorns have responded with two impressive performances in a row. The team beat San Jose State 56-0 as a 24.5-point favorite on Sep. 9 and then lost 27-24 in overtime as a 16.5-point road underdog against USC. The Longhorns almost pulled off what would have been a season-changing win there, but one can only hope that they at least have pride after putting up such a good fight against one of the nation’s best teams. Iowa State, meanwhile, is now 3-0 ATS this season, showing that the team has been better than expected thus far. The Cyclones’ only loss came at home against rival Iowa in overtime. After seeing how the Hawkeyes played against Penn State last week, that loss no longer looks too bad for Iowa State. Both of these teams now shift their focus to a big Thursday night matchup, and one would think that all of these players will be excited to be on national television. Texas has been the team that has dominated this head-to-head series as of late, going 5-1 SU in the past six meetings. The teams have, however, splits victories ATS in those games, and Iowa State also happens to have won 24-0 as a 3.5-point home underdog the last time these teams met in Ames. There is also a trend working in the Cyclones’ favor, as the Longhorns are a lousy 2-12 ATS in road games against teams who commit one or fewer turnovers per game since 1992.
QB Shane Buechele (375 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT) has long been viewed as Texas’ starting quarterback, but it now seems like Sam Ehlinger (520 yards, 3 TD, 2 INT) is the man under center. Ehlinger turned in a gusty performance against the Trojans last week, throwing for 298 yards with two touchdowns and two picks. Those numbers might not jump off the page, but he was a freshman playing in a rather hostile environment. Ehlinger didn’t back down and actually delivered what should have been the game-winning drive late in regulation. The Longhorns just couldn’t stop future NFL quarterback Sam Darnold from driving down the field and sending the game to overtime. Ehlinger must now turn around and be ready for a game that could end up being a shootout on Thursday. The receiver that Ehlinger has seemingly enjoyed throwing to the most is Collin Johnson (366 yards, 1 TD). At 6’6’’, 220 pounds, Johnson has all of the prerequisites required to be a top receiver. It’ll be interesting to see if he puts it all together and comes through for Texas moving forward. RB Chris Warren (212 yards, 2 TD) could also be in for a big game here. Warren was an afterthought against the Trojans, rushing only four times for 15 yards. He should, however, be more involved here, as the Longhorns will want to keep the Cyclones guessing on offense. On defense, Texas’ main focus should be shutting down the Iowa State passing game.
Iowa State is coming off of a dominant victory over Akron, and QB Jacob Park (935 yards, 8 TD, 2 INT) continues to play well for this Cyclones offense. Park threw for 317 yards with two touchdowns and no picks last week, and he has now thrown for over 300 yards in each of his past two games. In a meeting with Texas that should be a high-scoring affair, you can expect Park to put up some huge numbers once again. It’s just important that he does everything he can to limit his mistakes. He’ll often look in the direction of WR Allen Lazard (178 yards, 3 TD), who is one of the best receivers in the conference. Lazard is a gigantic target on the outside, but he has the good hands to match. Texas is going to have some serious trouble defending Lazard, so keep an eye out for him here. As for the Iowa State running game, it’ll be RB David Montgomery (321 yards, 4 TD) that gets a bulk of the carries for the Cyclones. Montgomery has rushed for over 100 yards in each of the past two weeks, and he rushed for 82 yards and two touchdowns in the season opener. There should be quite a few holes for him to burst through here. On defense, the priority for Iowa State should be getting pressure on Ehlinger. The freshman performed at a high level against USC, but he is still young and will have trouble handling the Texas blitz.