Here is everything you need to know about the upcoming Big 12 game in Ames in our Iowa State vs. Texas preview and prediction.
Date: September 28th, 2017 | 7:00 p.m. CT | Jack Trice Stadium
TV: ESPN (Steve Levy, Brian Griese, Todd McShay, Laura Rutledge)
Radio: Cyclones Radio Network/Learfield (Flagship KCCQ-FM 105.1 in Ames)/John Walters, Eric Heft, Ben Bruns
Radio: Longhorn IMG Radio Network (Craig Way, Roger Wallace, Quan Cosby)
Satellite Radio: Sirius 84; XM 84
Fun fact: Not counting season openers, Tom Herman is 4-0 in his career with at least 12 days since the last game. Meantime, Iowa State is 21-12 all-time in Thursday night games and 10-4 in its last 14 Thursday night contests. The last time ISU played host to Texas on a Thursday night was in 2013, a 31-30 loss at Jack Trice Stadium.
Anthony Wheeler, linebacker
As the defense continues to turn the corner from its disastrous open against Maryland, Wheeler has been a big reason why. Against USC, the linebacker had a team high 12 tackles and also had a career high 3.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. Wheeler is now second in the team in tackles with 19. Malik Jefferson is the anchor of the unit, but he can’t do it alone, and that’s where Wheeler has stepped up in a big way.
Shane Buechele/Sam Ehlinger, quarterback
This is the elephant in the room for the Texas Longhorns. It’s believed that Buechele is the guy and is healthy as he recovered from his shoulder injury. But how healthy will that shoulder actually look in-game? If he struggles, is there pressure to turn to Ehlinger, who performed admirably against USC? What about a Jerrod Heard package? There are so many questions, as there have been for years, about this position for Texas.
Iowa State Cyclones
David Montgomery, running back
Montgomery is leading the team and ranking third in the Big 12 in rushing at 107 ypg. His four rushing TDs ranks third in the Big 12 (1.3 pg), scoring a TD in all three games this season. But Montgomery faces a quality run defense on Thursday night.
Willie Harvey, linebacker
Harvey ranks second in the Big 12 with 2.5 sacks and is 4th in the conference with 4.5 tackles for loss. For a Longhorns offense that has holes on its offensive line and possible issues at quarterback, Harvey will need to lead this front seven to try and disrupt the Texas offense.
Win the turnover battle
Of course, you could probably say this for any football game, but when you look closely at these two teams, it what they have both thrived on thus far. The Cyclones are currently third in the Big 12 conference with a +4 turnover margin. Meantime, the Texas defense already has five turnovers through three games this season. Through three games in 2016, the Longhorns had just one takeaway. But the problem for Texas is they have given it away more than they have taken it away, with a turnover margin of -1.
Can Texas stop David Montgomery?
He’s been one of the best running backs in the Big 12 thus far. But Texas brings in a stout run game that completely stopped an explosive USC running attack. The Trojans came in averaging 234.2 rushing yards per game, and Texas allowed just 71. This would force Jacob Park to beat UT through the air. That’s certainly possible with threats like Allen Lazard and Hakeem Butler, but it also may force Park into some throws and decisions he may feel the need to force. The Cyclones are 2-4 in games started by Park when he throws at least one interception, compared to 3-2 in games when he does not get picked off.
Texas’ running game
In the Longhorns two losses this season, the starting quarterback finished the game with double-digit carries, which was more than the totals of running backs Chris Warren III and Kyle Porter. Tom Herman wants this team to be a power running team, but with some struggles and injuries on the offensive line, that may not be entirely possible. Also, Iowa State has had success getting into opponents’ backfields so far this season. ISU has a +15 margin of tackles for loss, while ranking third in the Big 12 in sacks per game (2.7).
Texas 35, Iowa State 31
This is going to be a great game with an awesome atmosphere at Jack Trice. Ultimately, I think Texas is able to get its best athletes and playmakers in space enough to utilize their speed against Iowa State’s linebackers. We saw this at times against Iowa where Joel Lanning, who has been solid, was exploited at times in one-on-one match ups. Meantime, Jacob Park will have a big game, but throw an ill-timed interception in the second half that will be the difference.